Pulisic Fires Milan to Second, Juve Stalled by Atalanta

Pulisic Fires Milan to Second, Juve Stalled by Atalanta

Christian Pulisic’s solitary strike propelled AC Milan to second place in Serie A with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Empoli on Sunday. The American winger’s deflected effort proved decisive, as Milan extended their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions.

Pulisic’s goal came in the 79th minute, when his shot took a fortunate deflection off Empoli defender Sebastiano Luperto and nestled into the net. The 25-year-old has now scored 10 goals in all competitions for Milan since joining from Chelsea last summer.

“It’s a good feeling, it was good for us to get the three points,” Pulisic said after the match. “It wasn’t a nice goal, it was a bit lucky but at the end of the day we take it.”

Milan’s victory moved them 16 points behind league leaders Inter Milan, who defeated Bologna on Saturday. Stefano Pioli’s side will now turn their attention to Thursday’s Europa League last-16 return leg against Slavia Prague, where they hold a 4-2 lead from the first leg.

Meanwhile, Juventus’ poor form continued as they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Atalanta. Teun Koopmeiners scored twice for the visitors, while Andrea Cambiaso and Arkadiusz Milik netted for Juve.

The result left Juve a point behind Milan in third place and six points adrift of fourth-placed Bologna. Massimiliano Allegri’s side have now picked up just six points from their last seven matches, casting doubt on their title hopes.

“We played well against a good team… we’ve gained a point on Bologna and Atalanta are now 11 points behind us,” Allegri said. “Our aim is to finish in the top four. I can’t criticise the team, it was a tricky atmosphere at half-time and they reacted well. The effort has never been lacking.”

Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta remain sixth, four points behind Bologna. They were denied a victory by Diego Llorente’s last-gasp equalizer for Roma in Florence.

Llorente’s goal came in the fifth minute of stoppage time, after goalkeeper Mile Svilar had saved Cristiano Biraghi’s penalty in the 81st minute. Roma had been on a high after hammering Brighton in the Europa League on Thursday, but goals from Luca Ranieri and Rolando Mandragora had Fiorentina deservedly ahead until Llorente struck.

Svilar’s crucial save meant that Fiorentina have failed to score from the penalty spot four times this Serie A season. “All those players you’ve seen miss are penalty takers,” said Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano. “We can’t do any more than work on them in training and taking them when they come along.”

Lecce remain level on points with Empoli in 15th after being beaten 1-0 at home by Verona. However, the biggest story from that match was coach Roberto D’Aversa’s headbutt on Verona striker Thomas Henry. D’Aversa later admitted to Sky Sport that his behavior was “inexcusable.”

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