Stefano Pioli

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Milan hoping to woo “great champion” Zlatan next week

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Serie A mainstays AC Milan are trying to woo Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the San Siro.

The full-court press makes sense, as it will take some financial sacrifices for Ibrahimovic to join the side given Financial Fair Play problems in Milan.

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Coach Stefano Pioli called Zlatan “a great champion” while admitting he has to focus on the table and not transfers, while former AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani issued a glowing call for the Swede to return to town.

From Football-Italia.com:

“It would be romantic if he returned. But I have a rule, I don’t talk about teams I’m not involved with anymore. I’m only a fan of Milan now. Still, his arrival would enrich Italian football, similar to when Cristiano Ronaldo came to Italy.”

Man, they know how to speak this guy’s language, don’t they?

Sky Sports says Ibrahimovic’s agent will meet with Milan again next week in the hopes of convincing him to take a lower wage deal, and the 38-year-old showed he’s willing to take one for the team during his stint with the LA Galaxy.

The move makes too much sense, with Milan’s 11 goals well below its expected goal number. They need a finisher, and Zlatan sure does that. And if lower wages means Zlatan gets to play mercenary for five months while proving he’s got the goods for a big wage for 2020-21, that’s an easy concession for the striker.

Serie A roundup: Late Correa goal squeezes Lazio past Milan (video)

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Aside from the disgusting racist abuse that Mario Balotelli received from Hellas Verona supporters, Lazio’s late victory over Rossoneri highlights Serie A’s Sunday action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

AC Milan 1-2 Lazio

With goals from Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa, Lazio edged AC Milan in Serie A play at the San Siro for the first since 1989, snapping a 29-match winless streak.

With the 2-1 victory under their belts, Lazio climbed to fourth in the table, eight points adrift from leaders Juventus.

What proved to be a tightly contested encounter was, ultimately, defined by Correa’s blistering strike inside the penalty box. The Argentine covered three-quarters of the field before finishing off Luis Alberto‘s pace between two Milan defenders.

Like the league-leading goalscorer that he is, Immobile, too, contributed one of his own.

With Leo Duarte marking him from behind, the 29-year-old made a sneaky run towards the first post and met the incoming service with a well-placed and aggressive header, leaving Gianluigi Donnarumma with no chance of blocking the ball. It was Immobile’s 13th goal in 11 games this season, and his 100th with Lazio.

Down 1-0, the hosts pulled one back. In the 28th minute, Krzysztof Piatek’s right-footed volley deflected off Bastos’ chest and into the back of net. It wasn’t enough for Milan, who now stand 11th with 13 points.

With pressure at an all-time high, Stefano Pioli and Roma, travel to Turin to take on leaders Juventus, while Lazio prep for a midweek, Europa League showdown against Scottish giants, Celtic, at home.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Atalanta 0-2 Cagliari 

Genoa 1-3 Udinese

Hellas Verona 2-1 Brescia 

Lecce 2-2 Sassuolo 

Fiorentina 1-1 Parma 

Suso’s terrific free kick gives Pioli 1st AC Milan win

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MILAN — New AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli earned his first win with the club as the Rossoneri beat SPAL 1-0 in Serie A on Thursday.

Suso came off the bench to score with a free kick shortly after the hour mark, ending a scoreless streak stretching back to last season.

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Milan’s fourth win in 10 matches moved the Rossoneri up to 10th place while SPAL remained in 19th place.

Samu Castillejo also hit the crossbar for Milan early on.

Suso, who had been heavily criticized for his performances this season, scored six minutes after coming on for Castillejo.

The Spaniard’s free kick spun over SPAL’s wall then dipped down in under the bar.

Suso’s previous goal came on May 19.

Fiorentina coach Pioli steps down amid seven-game winless run

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli has stepped down amid a seven-match winless streak.

The club says assistant coach Giacomo Murelli was directing training on Tuesday, while no immediate replacement was named.

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Fiorentina has dropped out of contention for European competition and is down to 10th place in Serie A following a loss at home to relegation-threatened Frosinone on Sunday.

The club is anxious to straighten things out before facing Atalanta in the second leg of the Italian Cup semifinals on April 25. The first leg ended 3-3.

Pioli was hired in June 2017 and led Fiorentina to an eighth-place finish last season.

It’s the 12th coaching change in the Italian league this season.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Inter sacks manager Stefano Pioli

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With just three matches left in the Serie A season and Inter Milan sitting in seventh, the Italian side has fired manager Stefano Pioli, the club confirmed in a statement.

Pioli was hired in November with the team in 12th. He had a fantastic impact out of the gates, leading the club on a run of 12 wins in 15 matches, featuring a seven-match win streak as part of that span and reaching as high as fourth in the Serie A table. However, the team has slumped towards the end of the season, without a win since March 12 and suffering five losses in their last seven games.

The club wrote in the statement, “Inter thanks Stefano and his staff for their dedication and hard work for the club during the last six months of what has turned out to be a difficult season.”

U-19 head coach Stefano Vecchi will take over on an interim basis, the second time he has filled in as Inter’s acting manager.

The two Milan clubs have both faced significant struggles in the past decade despite a long history of European success. While AC Milan has at times seemed on the verge of resurrection, Inter has faced a much deeper decline. For a fleeting moment it seemed they nearly vanquished the demons as the club reached the top quarter of the league table in February, but those proved to be fleeting hopes.

The announcement from the club came at almost the exact same time that fellow Italian club Juventus qualified for the Champions League final.