Euro roundup: Milan crowned winter champions despite Atalanta defeat

*Benzema hits double in Real Madrid’s 4-1 win at Alavés
*RB Leipzig slip to shock defeat against Mainz in Bundesliga

Atalanta consigned Milan to their second league defeat of the season with a 3-0 win at San Siro on Saturday, but Stefano Pioli’s side were still named winter champions in Serie A after Internazionale’s 0-0 draw against Udinese.
A Cristian Romero header put the visitors ahead at half-time before a Josip Ilicic penalty and Duvan Zapata strike completed a dominant victory for the Bergamo side. Atalanta had the chances to win by an even wider margin as an out-of-sorts Milan put in one of their worst performances of the season.
The home side failed to muster a shot on target until debutant Mario Mandzukic drew a good save from Pierluigi Gollini in the 71st minute with his first touch after coming off the bench.
“Today a lot of things were lacking,” Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic told Sky Sports. “I don’t want to make excuses, you need to go into every game to get the result. Today we didn’t manage that.”
Inter missed out on the chance to go top and coach Antonio Conte was sent off in the draw at strugglers Udinese.
The visitors travelled to Udine on a high after beating title rivals Juventus 2-0 last weekend but they could not break down the determined hosts, who became the first team to keep a clean sheet against Inter in Serie A this season.
Inter striker Lautaro Martinez came closest when his first half shot drew a spectacular one-handed save from Juan Musso, but the visitors’ frustration showed when Conte was dismissed for dissent in stoppage time.
Embattled Roma gained some relief with a 4-3 win over visiting Spezia in Serie A on Saturday.
Lorenzo Pellegrini scored the winner two minutes into stoppage time after former Roma winger Daniele Verde had equalised in the 90th. Borja Mayoral scored twice and Rick Karsdorp also found the target for the Giallorossi, who were without captain Edin Dzeko due to an apparent feud with coach Paulo Fonseca.
Roma strengthened their grip on third place and moved within six points of league leader Milan and only three points behind Internazionale.
Eden Hazard scored his first goal in almost three months while Karim Benzema bagged two as Real Madrid eased to a 4-1 win away to Alavés in La Liga in the absence of coach Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane tested positive for Covid-19 the day before the game, so his assistant David Bettoni took charge of the team instead and his side got off to a strong start when Casemiro headed in a Toni Kroos cross in the 15th minute. Benzema curled into the top corner in the 41st after a neat backheel lay off from Hazard, who then scored his second goal of the season to further stretch Real’s advantage just before the break.
Former Real youth player Joselu pulled a goal back for Alavés in the 59th minute, powering in a header from a free kick, but Benzema rounded off the victory for second-placed Real with an exquisite solo run and goal in the 70th minute.
Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri scored a second hat-trick in four matches as his side demolished Cadiz 3-0 on Saturday to climb into third place.
The Moroccan tapped a loose ball into the net in the 35th minute on the rebound after team mate Suso had struck the post. Moments later he headed home a free-kick from Suso to double his side’s advantage.
The striker showed his relentless hunger for goals to complete his treble in the second half, reacting quickly to a terrible clearance from Cadiz’s Marc Baro and climbing above another defender to head home.
RB Leipzig’s title bid suffered a shock setback on Saturday after they twice wasted a lead to slump to a 3-2 loss at strugglers Mainz and fail to close the gap on leaders Bayern Munich.
Second-placed Leipzig, who have now won just one of their last four league games, are on 35 points, four behind Bayern, who face Schalke on Sunday.
In a rollercoaster first half, Tyler Adams struck on the rebound in the 15th minute when keeper Robin Zentner pushed a Marcel Sabitzer shot onto the crossbar only for the ball to fall to the American. Moussa Niakhate then equalised from close range after keeper Peter Gulacsi had saved a header from a free-kick.
French defender Niakhate drew the home side level again in the 35th after Marcel Halstenberg’s goal on the half hour mark, as Leipzig’s defence showed huge gaps once more.
The hosts took the lead in the second half with Leandro Barreiro slipping into the box to flick a low cross from Danny da Costa into the goal before keeper Gulacsi could get his hands on the ball.
Wolfsburg beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 with a winner from Ridle Baku, to join them on 32 points and climb into the top four of the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen, who went into the game with their best first half a season in seven years and having beaten Borussia Dortmund last week, had a strong start with three scoring chances in the opening minutes and Lucas Alario’s header bouncing off the post.
But the Wolves were the ones to go in front when Baku headed in a smooth cross from Renato Steffen at the far post. Wolfsburg defended deep but the hosts struggled to break past their opponents’ defence.
It was a similar picture after the break with Leverkusen enjoying almost complete possession but having almost no chance to score in the entire second half.
*Courtesy: The Guardian




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