Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to bring his tally to 10 league goals this season before limping off with a muscle strain as AC Milan stayed top in Serie A on Sunday with a 3 -1 win at 10 -man Napoli.
Milan move back two points ahead of Sassuolo — 2- 0 winners earlier at Hellas Verona — with Roma third after Henrikh Mkhitaryan netted a brace in a dominant 3 – 0 win over Parma.
“ For me Zlatan is stronger now than 10 -12 years ago ,” said Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso of his former Milan teammate .
“ Milan strongly believes in Ibra, his teammates trust him 100 percent .
“ In my opinion, their team is not the strongest but they have the mentality.
“ We play well but lose as soon as it gets difficult. ”
Ibrahimovic continued his fine form , heading in a Theo Hernandez cross after 20 minutes , sending in the second with his knee nine minutes after the break .
But the 39 -year – old pulled up clutching his left hamstring and was substituted after 79 minutes.
The Swede has scored in all six games he has played this season, having missed two after contracting coronavirus.
Coach Stefano Pioli missed the trip south with Covid- 19 , but his side got their first league win in Naples since October 2010 , the season they last won the Scudetto , with Ibrahimovic also on the scoresheet that time .
Napoli played the final half an hour a man down after Tiemoue Bakayoko was sent off for two yellow cards , just after Dries Mertens had pulled a goal back for the hosts .
Norwegian Jens Petter Hauge completed the scoring five minutes into injury time , the 21 – year -old getting his first Serie A goal .
Champions Juventus are fourth — four points off top spot — after winning 2 -0 at Cagliari on Saturday .
Last season’ s runners -up Inter Milan are just behind in fifth , after a Romelu Lukaku double inspired a 4 -2 comeback win over Torino , with Napoli dropping from third to sixth — six points off top spot .
– Inter ‘lack ferocity ’ –
In Milan , Torino got off to a strong start despite playing without top striker Andrea Belotti who pulled up during the warm – up .
Simone Zaza took the skipper ’ s place and scored the opener just before the break with Cristian Ansaldi adding a second from the penalty spot after an hour .
Inter reacted in the 64 th minute , with Alexis Sanchez bundling the ball in after Lukaku ’ s initial effort was tipped onto the crossbar , before the Chilean set up his fellow former Manchester United forward for the equaliser three minutes later .
Lukaku pulled Inter ahead from the penalty spot six minutes from time and then provided the cross for substitute Lautaro Martinez to score the fourth on 90 minutes.
“ I didn’t like what I saw ,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte three days before his side host Real Madrid in the Champions League.
“ We lack the ferocity of last season.
“ But we showed character as being 2 -0 down could have destroyed us. ”
Torino drop into the relegation zone after their fifth defeat .
In Verona , Sassuolo continued their impressive run thanks to goals in either half from Jeremie Boga and Domenico Berardi .
The side from Emilia Romagna are unbeaten this season and are the joint top scorers with 20 goals .
Roma meanwhile stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches , cementing victory with three first- half goals .
Borja Mayoral got his first Serie A goal just before the half -hour mark, with Mkhitaryan adding two more before the break to bring his tally to five in two games after scoring a hat -trick last time out against Genoa .
In Tuscany , Cesare Prandelli had a nightmare start as coach of struggling Fiorentina with a 1 -0 home defeat by Benevento .
Former Italy coach Prandelli returned to the ‘ Viola ’ a decade after leaving for the Azzurri job in 2010 , but the team fell to their fourth defeat.
To add to Prandelli ’s woes, French midfielder Franck Ribery went off injured .
“ The fragility worries me most , ” said Prandelli .
“ Perhaps the team succumbed to their fears and negative thoughts when Franck came off .”
Riccardo Improta scored his first Serie A goal for Benevento on 52 minutes , slotting in a Gabriele Moncini cross after a Cristiano Biraghi defensive error.
Fiorentina slip to 15 th in the Serie A table , just behind Benevento.
Ozil In Final Stages Of Move To Fenerbahce
Mesut Ozil is expected to sign a three-and-a-half year deal with Fenerbahce that will see the Arsenal’s out-of-favour German midfielder switch England for Turkey.
The reports came after the 32-year-old, a World Cup winner with Germany in 2014, fanned speculation by tweeting a photograph of himself in Istanbul with the words: “This city … #throwback #Istanbul.”
Sports daily Fanatik reported that Fenerbahce chairman Ali Koc and team director Emre Belozoglu flew to London to persuade the player, who is of Turkish origin, to make the move.
A Fenerbahce spokesman did not immediately respond to AFP’s query.
Other reports on Tuesday said Ozil was in talks with MLS side DC United.
The player’s agent said his future should become clearer within the next 10 days but his priority was to stay at Arsenal.
“Mesut’s priority is to stay, but you never know in football, things can change very fast,” Erkut Sogut told ESPN.
“For the moment, we are just checking all the options for January and the summer.”
“In the next seven to 10 days, it will be a little clearer as now the transfer window is open, things can move faster,” he added.
Ozil moved to Arsenal from Real Madrid in 2013 and is the highest paid player in the Premier League club’s history, on a reported £350,000 ($480,000) a week, but he has not played all season and does not appear to be in coach Mikel Arteta’s plans.
He has expressed frustration over his treatment at Arsenal, who are looking to trim numbers.
Ozil stirred controversy in 2019 when he criticised China’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang in a social media post, with Arsenal distancing themselves from his comments.
But he will apparently be earning far less at Fenerbahce as DHA and Fanatik said the proposed deal was worth five million euros ($6 million) a year.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was Ozil’s best man at his 2019 wedding in Turkey.
Fenerbahce, one of Istanbul’s three big clubs, are currently fifth in the Super Lig.
West Brom Boss, Allardyce Labels Arsenal ‘Genuine Relegation Contenders’
Former England coach and West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce has cautioned Arsenal that their status as a Premier League club is at stake if the Gunners do not turnaround their miserable PL campaign.
Arsenal shockingly find themselves in 15th place on the premier league log, securing 14 points from 14 games played. With their last win in the league being a 1-0 win over Manchester United on November 1
Following a 4-1 Carabao Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City on Tuesday, falling to eight defeats 14 league games, Allardyce has admitted that Arsenal have to be considered as genuine relegation rivals, alongside West Brom due to their string of poor results.
Allardyce said: “If they are in the bottom eight at the moment, yes. Absolutely,” Allardyce said when asked whether he believed Arsenal should be seen as potential relegation candidates.
“Getting beaten again [Tuesday] night – even though it is not in the league – as it does with our players, drains the confidence of Arsenal’s players. Of course, it will.
“They will be wondering what’s hit them, they will be wondering why they are down there. They will be wondering what it’s going to take to get out of that position. I know what it takes, I hope I can convince the players to respond to what I say on what it takes to get out of it.
“I hope that we can push at Arsenal when they play us because they have a lack of confidence, and try and beat them or anybody in the bottom eight.”
Arsenal will square off against West Brom on January 2, 2021, a fixture the baggies boss has labelled a relegation six-pointer.
But before then, Arsenal welcome Chelsea to the Emirates for the boxing day clash, while West Brom faces a daunting trip to face league champions, Liverpool at Anfield, who are on a sixty-six game unbeaten streak at Anfield.