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Inter, Roma held as Benevento finally win

Milan (AFP) – Inter Milan and Roma lost ground on leaders Napoli on Saturday after both title-chasing sides were held at home, while at the other end of the table Benevento got their first ever Serie A win.

Inter, in third, are now seven points behind Napoli after a goalless draw against Lazio at San Siro as Roma, in fourth, drew 1-1 against Sassuolo in the capital.

Champions Juventus, in second, travel to Verona later Saturday looking to close their four-point gap on Napoli, who finish the year on top after a 1-0 win against Crotone on Friday.

Inter’s draw saw them end a run of three straight defeats in all competitions.

However, despite being dangerous in the first half, with Ivan Perisic denied by a stunning Thomas Strakosha save and a Borja Valero header hitting the post, Luciano Spalletti’s side could not find a way past fifth-placed Lazio.

Felipe Anderson went close for the visitors, who were frustrated when a penalty awarded for a Milan Skriniar handball was revoked after the video assistant referee (VAR) showed it had been involutary, with the ball bouncing up off his leg.

“I don’t like this technology. I have more fun in the Europa League, where there is no VAR,” complained Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi. “It takes the emotion out of it.”

Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini scored against his old club Sassuolo just after the half-hour only for Simone Missiroli to level after 78 minutes at the Stadio Olimpico.

“We were subdued, in the second half we made too many mistakes,” said Roma coach Eusebio di Francesco. 

“We could have closed down the game but we didn’t have the strength to do it and Sassuolo didn’t give up. It was an important game to win.”

Benevento, meanwhile, made history as they finally claimed their first victory in the Italian top flight thanks to a Massimo Coda strike on 64 minutes which earned a 1-0 win at home against Chievo.

Roberto De Zerbi’s side sit bottom with four points from 19 games — their only previous point coming in a dramatic 2-2 draw against AC Milan earlier this month.

“It’s an important win because it would have not been easy for me to get back to work on Tuesday trying to motivate 25 people,” said De Zerbi, whose side are still 11 points from safety.

“It gives us the strength to continue.”

– Never-say-die Milan –

Earlier, Hakan Calhanoglu snatched a point for under-pressure Milan in a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina which nevertheless leaves Gennaro Gattuso’s side trailing in 11th position.

The Turkish midfielder equalised in the 74th minute, just three minutes after Giovanni Simeone had headed in for the hosts, as Milan came from behind to earn a result for the first time this season.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off several key saves on his 100th game for Milan. 

“Towards the end we even felt like we could win it. I’m really starting to like the never-say-die attitude of this team,” said Gattuso, whose side had beaten city rivals Inter in the Italian Cup in midweek.

Milan are 23 points behind Napoli.

Elsewhere Fabio Quagliarella got two stoppage-time goals as Sampdoria beat SPAL 2-0 with Cagliari winning 2-1 away to Atalanta and Udinese beating Bologna by the same score. Torino were held to a goalless draw at home by Genoa.

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