Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays the heel but it is Napoli who suffer stage fright | Football

Zlatan Ibrahimovic took a while off from co-hosting the Sanremo Music Pageant to look at Milan draw with Udinese on Wednesday. After weeks of anguished hypothesis about how his involvement in the occasion would possibly impression his group’s title push, the Swede had picked up a thigh harm that dominated him out of this sport regardless.

However, after showing on stage for the pageant’s opening evening on Tuesday, he made the 170-mile return journey to sit down with teammates on the bench. Ibrahimovic may do nothing to assist as Milan coughed up one other two factors in a title race that is beginning to slip away from them.

The Rossoneri had been fortunate to take something from the sport in any respect, having trailed as late as the ninety fifth minute earlier than Jens Stryger Larsen gifted them a penalty with a pointless handball. Frontrunners by way of the first 5 months of this marketing campaign, Milan had been high of the desk three weeks in the past but will likely be six factors off the tempo if Inter beat Parma on Thursday.

Ibrahimovic didn’t dwell on that state of affairs as he rejoined festivities in Sanremo through video hyperlink a bit after midnight, as an alternative inviting colleagues in the studio to hitch a second’s applause in reminiscence of Davide Astori, the Fiorentina and Italy defender who died in his sleep three years in the past at the age of simply 31. Then he was again to teasing the important host, Amadeus, warning to not contact something whereas he was gone.


The choice by Sanremo’s organisers to guide Ibrahimovic already seems to be like successful. Performing jokes with out an viewers can take some getting used to but the footballer had seemed instantly at residence taking part in the heel on Tuesday, making an attempt to promote 4 of the pageant’s singers to Liverpool (“they want some assist”) and awarding himself “Man of the Stage” honours in lieu of any footballing ones.


🗣 Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes his huge entrance at Sanremo…

💬 “Good night, Italy. It’s an honour to be right here, but it’s additionally an incredible honour so that you can have me right here.”



March 3, 2021

For sheer leisure this week, although, you’ll have completed even higher to take a look at Sassuolo’s showdown with Napoli. Six targets, three penalties and two pictures off the woodwork don’t even inform the half of it. The place Sanremo had Ibrahimovic in a monogrammed go well with, the Mapei Stadium had Gennaro Gattuso hurling off his jacket in a fury.

The sport began at a chaotic tempo, each groups urgent excessive and mirroring each other in 4-2-3-1 formations. Errors got here thick and quick at each ends, but Lorenzo Insigne thought he had opened the scoring with a second of technical perfection, gliding in from the left and whipping his shot round the goalkeeper from a good angle. The purpose was disallowed after a VAR evaluation for offside.

As an alternative, Sassuolo took the lead through an personal purpose: Nikola Maksimovic diverting Domenico Berardi’s free-kick past his personal goalkeeper. Piotr Zielinski levelled issues up with a stunning left-footed end from the fringe of the field. Sassuolo received their noses again in entrance simply earlier than the interval, Berardi changing his spot-kick after Ciccio Caputo was barged by Elseid Hysaj.

Backwards and forwards they went, taking turns to counter in a sport of soccer that generally felt extra like basketball for the velocity that the ball shuttled from finish to finish. Berardi span in from the proper and twirled the ball in opposition to the crossbar from 25 yards. Caputo rattled one other shot off the put up. Sassuolo had been getting on high. At which level, Napoli equalised.

There was magic once more from Insigne, accelerating past Maxime Lopez to cross for Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who volleyed residence at shut vary. With 18 minutes left to play, the sport was anyone’s. Then Sassuolo handed it to Napoli.


In the ninetieth minute, Lukas Haraslin bundled over Di Lorenzo in the field. Insigne buried the penalty. Napoli simply wanted to hold on by way of harm time, and the factors had been theirs. But they couldn’t. Kostas Manolas fouled Haraslin when the Slovak gave the impression to be operating the ball out of bounds. Caputo beat Alex Meret from the spot, sealing a 3-3 draw.

Sassuolo celebrate during the 3-3 draw.

Sassuolo rejoice throughout the 3-3 draw in opposition to Napoli. {Photograph}: Elisabetta Baracchi/EPA

It was a outcome neither group needed. Sassuolo are chasing a return to Europe, and a win would have helped them to shut the hole on Napoli in sixth. The Partenopei, although, are combating for a Champions League berth, with out which main gross sales could be required this summer season. Earlier than that, Gattuso is battling to save lots of his job.

The supervisor’s frustration at the finish was apparent, as he threw his jacket to the flooring. Even he seemed calm compared to Insigne, although, who booted a bottle after which an promoting hoarding on the solution to the tunnel and circled to scream: “Piece of shit group.”

It was unclear whether or not his anger was directed at teammates or opponents. Much less ambiguous is the proven fact that Gattuso is in problem. There have been stories this week of a clear-the-air cellphone name with the membership’s proprietor, Aurelio De Laurentiis, after the supervisor had lamented an absence of help from the membership. But outcomes on the pitch stay inadequate for a group that not so way back was difficult Juventus for the Scudetto, and which has damaged its switch document in consecutive summers.

Accidents disadvantaged Gattuso of each Victor Osimhen and Hirving Lozano for this sport. He can hardly be blamed for the scarcity of choices up entrance, with Andrea Petagna additionally out and Dries Mertens solely simply again from an ankle grievance.

What he will be criticised for is getting his substitutions mistaken. Why introduce Manolas for Maksimovic with 5 minutes remaining, a change that did nothing to change his group’s form but did introduce a defender with chilly legs who proceeded to provide away a penalty? The assault main as much as that mistake may have been prevented if Tiemoué Bakayoko, one other second-half introduction, had merely have cleared the ball out of bounds.

Past any particular person selections, the disparity in Napoli’s residence and away performances has additionally turn out to be unimaginable to disregard. They’ve conceded only one purpose of their final six matches at what is now the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium – a run that features a win over Juventus and a Coppa Italia draw in opposition to Atalanta – but 17 in six on their travels. At a time of empty stadiums, it is a puzzling discrepancy certainly.

There have been no post-game remarks from Gattuso on Wednesday, as Napoli keep a press silence that has prolonged now for a number of weeks. This group is making an attempt to do its speaking on the pitch, but not like Ibrahimovic at Sanremo, it appears to have come down with stage fright.

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