MILAN (AP) Nicolo Barella scored his first league goal for Inter Milan to help the Nerazzurri come from behind to beat Hellas Verona 2-1 and move top of Serie A on Saturday.
Barella struck a stunning winner seven minutes from time after Matias Vecino had cancelled out Valerio Verre’s penalty for Verona.
Inter moved two points above eight-time defending champion Juventus, which hosts AC Milan on Sunday.
Verona remained ninth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.
Inter was in need of a boost after letting slip a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.
But it went behind in the 19th minute when goalkeeper Samir Handanovic tripped Mattia Zaccagni and Verre drilled the resulting spot kick powerfully down the middle.
Along with Juventus, Verona had the best defensive record heading into the weekend and Inter struggled to break the visitors down.
But it laid siege to the Verona goal and it eventually paid off in the 63rd minute when Vecino headed in Valentino Lazaro’s cross.
And Inter snatched all three points when Barella cut inside from the left and curled an unstoppable strike into the top corner.
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The Champions League nearly began with an upset, as Slavia Prague led Inter Milan 1-0 into stoppage time at the San Siro on Tuesday.
But a pair of Inter loanees produced a play to tie the score in the second minute of stoppage, as Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo) curled a free kick off the bar and Nicolo Barella (Cagliari) first timed the rebound through traffic and inside the far post.
[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]
Peter Olayinka started and finished the play for Slavia Prague’s second half opener. The scorer took the ball to the end line and cut back for Lukas Provod, whose shot was saved by Samir Handanovic.
But Olayinka followed the play and took advantage of the marker who slid to block his initial pass. On the doorstep at the back post, the Nigerian smashed the ball into the top of the goal.
The goal was deserved, and the score line represented the tightness of the contest. Inter barely out shot the Czech visitors and had just a little bit more of the ball.
Romelu Lukaku nearly thumped home a header in the sixth minute of stoppage, but Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar made a fine save.
Here’s the equalizer:
Sardinian side Cagliari had an interesting Serie A travel day to Milan in that there was a chance it might not happen at all.
The Italians were trapped inside their training ground by over 100 protestors who were not challenging Cagliari’s on-field performances, but wanted the 15th place side to cancel their match at AC Milan in solidarity with them over high milk prices.
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Part of a nation-wide protest which sees people kick over milk on the road, protestors would only let Cagliari’s players leave for Sunday’s match at AC Milan via compromise.
That compromise saw three Cagliari players join in the protest. From Football-Italia.net:
The team was only allowed to leave after several players, including Nicolo Barella, Alessandro Deiola and Joao Pedro, were filmed kicking over milk pails in a gesture of solidarity.
This a story we didn’t expect at the start of the Matchday.