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Leao seals ‘perfect week’ by snatching top spot for Milan


Milan (AFP) – Rafael Leao fired AC Milan top of Serie A on Sunday with the only goal in a 1-0 win over Sampdoria which allowed his side to overtake champions Inter.

With seven minutes gone Leao collected a huge kick from goalkeeper Mike Maignan and breezed past Bartosz Bereszynski before slotting home his seventh of the season.

Stefano Pioli’s side were four points behind Inter, who drew 1-1 in an enthralling match with fellow title rivals Napoli in Naples on Saturday, before last weekend’s Milan derby win but have taken the summit after a dominant display at the San Siro.

They also set up another two derbies with Inter in the Italian Cup semi-finals after smashing Lazio 4-0 on Wednesday.

“This is a perfect week, it’s not easy to do much better than this,” midfielder Sandro Tonali told Sky Sport Italia.

“We are proud, but getting satisfied with ourselves after the last three matches would be the stupidest thing we could do.”

Just two points separate Italy’s top three as third-placed Napoli are themselves one behind Inter — who have a game in hand — in a title race which could go down to the wire.

Milan were offered very little resistance by Samp, who are sliding towards the relegation zone after their fifth defeat in six matches.

Marco Giampaolo’s side are just three points from the bottom three and can be caught by Cagliari, who currently sit 18th and face surprise package Empoli in one of three afternoon matches.

Olivier Giroud, who came into Sunday’s match having scored four goals since last weekend, was twice denied in the second half by superb saves from Wladimiro Falcone.

First the veteran France international was denied after puling off an acrobatic bicycle kick just before the hour mark, and 14 minutes later he could only watch on in disbelief as Falcone plucked his close-range header our from under the bar.

Milan missed another golden chance to close out the match with eight minutes left when Ante Rebic fluffed a good chance in front of Falcone before Tonali and Franck Kessie both failed to net on the rebound.

Juventus have a chance to cement their position in the Champions League places when they take on fifth-placed Atalanta in Sunday’s late match.

Before that Roma, blasted by Jose Mourinho after their 2-0 cup defeat at Inter Milan on Tuesday, can move to within three points of the top four with a win at Sassuolo.

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