Icardi ends six-week exile at Inter as he resumes training

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MILAN (AP) Mauro Icardi has resumed training with his Inter Milan teammates, ending a six-week exile.

Icardi has not been on the field in more than a month, since being stripped of the captaincy amid protracted contract negotiations.

The 26-year-old Icardi has said he has a knee injury, although the club has said tests did not reveal any problem.

The Argentine forward returned to team training on Thursday with others who had not been called up for international duty.

Icardi could be called up for Inter’s next match on March 31, at home to Lazio in Serie A.

With 29 goals, Icardi was the joint top scorer in Serie A last season, sharing the honor with Ciro Immobile of Lazio. He has nine goals in 20 Serie A appearances this season.

Fellow Argentine Lautaro Martinez has stepped up in his absence, weighing in with four goals in his past nine matches.

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Kessie, Biglia apologize for bench altercation during Milan derby loss

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AC Milan duo Franck Kessie and Lucas Biglia were left to apologize after an altercation on the touchline during Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Inter in the Milan derby at the San Siro.

In the 69th minute, with Inter up 3-1, Kessie was substituted off by AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso, and was visibly frustrated with the decision of his withdrawal. Biglia, while sitting in his seat on the bench, appeared to say something to him as he came off the pitch, which triggered the incident. Multiple teammates and staff are forced to hold Kessie back, while fellow unused substitute Diego Laxalt appears to try talking Biglia down from the seat next to him.

“It was the adrenaline of the match situation, I was frustrated coming off and really wanted to do more. I took it out on Lucas and it was a mistake, I apologized afterwards,” Kessie told Sky Sport Italia after the match. “He is older than me and I should learn from him. I’m sorry.”

While Biglia’s statement seemed like less of an admission of guilt, he still said he was embarrassed by the incident and admitted he could have handled it differently.

“Franck knows what I said and we clarified the situation afterwards,” the Argentine said. “We all want to win, but this is not something we should do in front of everyone. Maybe save it for the dressing room. We above all feel bad for this embarrassing scene, I feel ashamed of it and apologized to the team and coach in person. It was not what we wanted, we embarrassed the club we represent and it won’t happen again.”

One eagle-eyed Twitter user noticed that the problems between the two could run deeper than just this one moment. Lucas Biglia opened the scoring against Chievo Verona last time out in an eventual 2-1 win, and zoomed-out video showed the entire team celebrating with the Argentine goalscorer except Kessie, who glances at the rest of the celebrating squad for around five seconds before casually turning his back and strolling towards the center of the pitch for the restart.

The loss for Milan on Sunday dropped them into fourth, the final Champions League place in the Serie A table, with a six-point lead over fifth-placed Roma.

Inter holds off AC Milan for 3-2 derby win

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Inter lept AC Milan into third in the Serie A table with an exciting 3-2 win at the San Siro over AC Milan.

The result not only saw the two sides swap places in the table, but also ended a 10-match unbeaten run by AC Milan in the series.

Matias Vecino bagged the opener just three minutes in to put Inter in front, with the easiest of tap-ins after Ivan Perisic sent in a curling cross to the far post where Lautaro Martinez was waiting, and his contested header came back across the face of goal to Vecino on the doorstep.

That would be the score at halftime, but just six minutes after the break Stefan de Vrij produced a fabulous header as Inter played a short corner, working a delivery for Matteo Politano which saw de Vrij rise highest to meet it and float his header inside the near post.

Tiemoue Bakayoko, in better form since the turn of the calendar year, pulled AC Milan one back just six minutes later with his first AC Milan goal as he powered home a header off a laser beam free-kick from Hakan Calhanoglu straight down the center. It seemed the game was destined for a wild finish until Samu Castillejo felled Matteo Politano in the box, and Martinez deposited the penalty powerfully for a 3-1 Inter lead.

AC Milan again pulled within one as Mateo Musacchio finished off a messy goal in the 71st minute, but they could not find a way back level despite heavy pressure forward. In the dying seconds of stoppage time, Samir Handanovic was required to produce a wonderful reflex save on a Castillejo header at the far post, and Danilo D’Ambrosio blocked an even later shot from Patrick Cutrone before the final whistle.

Inter’s win is vital, given they had occupied the final Champions League spot and were looking over their shoulder to fend off Roma, Lazio, and Atalanta, but now that is AC Milan’s problem. Inter moves into third on 53 points, seven back of second-placed Napoli, while AC Milan remains on 51 points, six above fifth-placed Roma.

Europa League wrap: Valencia advance with dramatic stoppage time goal

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Valencia was on the verge of being knocked out of the UEFA Europa League in the round of 16 for the second consecutive year. Then Goncalo Guedes showed why he’s one of the top young attackers in Europe.

Deep in second half stoppage time, the Portuguese international used a shoulder faint to get past a defender in the box, took a touch, and then slotted home with his left foot to send the visiting Valencia squad into hysterics. The goal gave Valencia a 1-1 draw on the evening but a 3-2 aggregate win over FC Kuban Krasnodar. With the win, Valencia advances to the Europa League quarterfinals.

[READ: Inter Miami reveals temporary stadium plan]

Guedes’ strike followed an outstanding curling goal into the top corner by Krasnodar’s 19-year-old midfielder Magomed Suleymanov, which had put Krasnodar in position to advance to the next round.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, Inter Milan were bounced from the tournament by Eintracht Frankfurt. One of the top young attackers in Europe, Luka Jovic, scored the game’s only goal in the 6th minute. It’s an earlier-than-expected end to European competition for big spending Inter.

Here are the other finals from across Thursday’s Europa League action:

RB Salzburg 3-1 Napoli (3-4 agg.)

Benfica 3-0 AET Dinamo Zagreb (3-0 agg.)

Slavia Prague 4-3 AET Sevilla (6-5 agg.)

Villarreal 2-1 Zenit St. Petersburg (5-2 agg.)

Europa League: Inter held, Napoli wins big, Benfica beaten

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Arsenal slumped to a 3-1 defeat on the road at Stade Rennais in the first leg of Europa Round of 16 play, while Chelsea hammered Dynamo Kiev 3-0 in a comprehensive victory.

The Gunners put forth a dismal performance in France, with Mesut Ozil the scapegoat again, putting together an uninspiring performance up front. Nacho Monreal gifted Rennais the lead with an odd own-goal and Rennais scored an important third as Ismaila Sarr beat Aaron Ramsey to a header at the back post in the 88th minute. Arsenal would have fancied its chances down 2-1 heading home, but they now have a two-goal deficit to make up.

[ MORE: Arsenal falls to Stade Rennais ]

Chelsea, meanwhile, enjoyed a dominating display at Stamford Bridge, taking a significant lead with them into the second leg in the Ukraine. Pedro scored the opener on a wonderful flick from Olivier Giroud, while Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi added the cherry on top as the Blues were in charge throughout. Chelsea finished the match with eight shots on target and held Dynamo to none.

[ MORE: Chelsea pummels Dynamo Kiev ]

Marcelo Brozovic missed a penalty and Ivan Perisic was yanked with an injury as a poor Inter performance resulted in a 0-0 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt. Lautaro Martinez was fouled in the penalty area on 22 minutes running away from goal chasing a loose ball, leading to Brozovic’s attempt from the spot, but his penalty was low and weak, and Eintracht goalkeeper Kevin Trapp dove to reach it for the save. In the 59th minute, Perisic was withdrawn after an injury, replaced by Antonio Candreva. Perisic has been a critical player for Inter this season, playing 2,511 minutes out of a possible 3,240 across all competitions.

Inter was lucky to escape with the draw, as Frankfurt had a goal disallowed in the 50th minute for an interfering player standing in an offside position, while defender Martin Hinteregger missed a wide open header in the 69th minute. Samir Handanovic was required in the 89th minute as he made a fingertip save on a shot by Luka Jovic.

Napoli blitzed FC Salzburg with two goals inside the opening 20 minutes and cruised to a 3-0 win. Arkadiusz Milik found himself free on goal after a beautiful feed from Dries Mertens for the opener just 10 minutes in, while Fabian Ruiz volleyed in Napoli’s second eight minutes later. The Italians found a third just before the hour mark, with Mario Rui’s deep cross headed into his own net by Jerome Onguene.

Valencia grabbed two early goals at home on a brace by Spanish international Rodrigo, but Russian side Krasnodar picked up an important away goal in a 2-1 finish. Rodrigo’s first was a wonderful curler unleashed at the top of the box and finishing in the top-left corner of the net in the 12th minute. He doubled Valencia’s lead in the 24th minute with a powerful low finish on a cross from Toni Lato. The visitors picked up the important consolation just past the hour mark as Viktor Claesson beat Cristiano Piccini to a long ball and muscled the Valencia defender off the ball for a fastbreak finish.

Dinamo Zagreb topped Benfica in Croatia 1-0 on a penalty by Bruno Petkovic in the 38th minute. Benfica held 65% of possession but managed just two shots on target and conceded the penalty when Ruben Dias barged over Dani Olmo in the penalty area.

Sevilla drew 2-2 at home with Slavia Prague with all four goals scored in a wild first half. Wissam Ben Yedder scored in the opening minute of the match, threaded through after a turnover in midfield to put Sevilla 1-0 up after just 24 seconds. The visitors drew back level in the 25th minute, but Munir El Haddadi put Sevilla back up just three minutes later, volleying home a corner with power. Alex Kral levelled things up again in the 39th minute on a hilarious goal that saw the ball ping off his neck unintentionally, looping into the top corner.

That was all for the scoring, as Sevilla pushed for a winner with nine total shots including four on target, while holding Slavia Prague to no shots on target in the second half. The final result is a win for Slavia Prague who heads home with a pair of away goals.

Villareal went into halftime level with Zenit St. Petersburg 1-1 and came away with a 3-1 win after second-half goals from Gerard Moreno and Manuel Morlanes. Moreno headed home Pablo Fornals’ cross in the 64th minute to give Villareal the lead, while Morlanes blasted his low effort through traffic in the 71st minute to seal the win. Sardar Azmoun and Vicente Iborra had cancelled each other out in the first half.