European round-up: Zlatan helps AC Milan continue perfect start

Lemar goal gives Atletico Madrid last-gasp victory at newly-promoted Espanyol

AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring against Lazio. Photograph: EPA

AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring against Lazio. Photograph: EPA

 

Serie A

AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his return from a four-month injury layoff as they comfortably defeated Lazio 2-0 at San Siro on Sunday to continue their perfect start to the Serie A season.

The 39-year-old Swede, who had not featured since sustaining a knee injury against Juventus in May, tapped in Milan’s second after 67 minutes, seven minutes after he came off the bench.

“Ibrahimovic never gets old and he has great passion, a fire burning inside him,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli told DAZN.

“He competes to win, he always trains to the maximum and he does so with pleasure. When you are like that you do not feel the years go by.”

The returning striker’s goal capped an impressive performance by the Rossoneri, who went in front through a Rafael Leao strike just ahead of the break, shortly before Franck Kessie’s penalty struck the bar.

The result puts Milan top of the table with nine points, ahead of Napoli on goal difference, while Lazio are sixth with six points after three games.

“We are still dreaming big, but we must dream at night and work during the day to make them come true,” Pioli said.

Both sides had started the season with back-to-back wins but the hosts were soon on top as Alessio Romagnoli drew a save from Pepe Reina and Fikayo Tomori headed over in the opening five minutes.

A strong first half Milan performance was eventually rewarded when Leao drove into the Lazio half, exchanged passes with Ante Rebic and found the bottom corner with a calm finish after 45 minutes.

It could have got even better for the hosts when Ciro Immobile kicked Kessie’s foot and conceded a penalty, but the Ivorian midfielder struck the bar from the spot deep in first-half stoppage time.

The home fans roared with approval when Ibrahimovic stepped onto the pitch for the first time since May and the Swede quickly made his mark when Rebic’s cross put the ball on a plate for him to score.

Tensions boiled over at the full-time whistle as opposing players and staff came together on the touchline, leading to a red card for Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri.

La Liga

Thomas Lemar scored in the ninth minute of added time to give Atletico Madrid a last-gasp 2-1 victory at newly-promoted Espanyol in La Liga on Sunday.

Yannick Carrasco levelled for the visitors 11 minutes from full time after Raul de Tomas had put the hosts in front in the first period with a sublime looping header.

The Belgian’s effort had looked to have ensured the spoils would be shared before the late drama in Catalunya.

Thomas Lemar celebrates scoring the winning goal at the RCDE Stadium in Catalunya. Photograph: Eric Alonso/Getty Images
Thomas Lemar celebrates scoring the winning goal at the RCDE Stadium in Catalunya. Photograph: Eric Alonso/Getty Images

The result moved Atletico to the top of the table with 10 points from four games, with a number of the other sides at the top yet to play this weekend. Espanyol have two points from their four games.

“It was a really tough game, especially in the first half,” Carrasco said.

“The boss made a number of changes which shows how deep our squad is and the substitutes made a difference.

“The added time was just, I thought. Espanyol wasted a lot of time, there were two VAR reviews and we were able to use that to our advantage and score.”

Lemar, one of those who came as coach Diego Simeone made three halftime changes, thought he had levelled eight minutes after the break when he fired in Marcos Llorente’s cross.

However, a lengthy VAR review deemed Luis Suarez was offside in the build-up.

In the end that lengthy pause - one of a number in a feisty encounter - was key for Atleti as referee Juan Martinez Munuera added on 10 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game.

Atletico pushed on for a winner against visibly tired opponents and Lemar broke into the Espanyol box in the final minute to fire past Diego Lopez and secure all three points for Atletico.

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