AC Milan hand Inter derby title shot, Ndicka scare for Roma

AC Milan hand Inter derby title shot, Ndicka scare for Roma


AC Milan were held to a spectacular 3-3 draw at Sassuolo on Sunday.

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MILAN (AFP) – Inter Milan moved to within touching distance of the Serie A title after their closest pursuers, AC Milan, were held to a spectacular 3-3 draw at Sassuolo on Sunday.

Play in Roma's match at Udinese was abandoned after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed.

On a hot spring day in Reggio Emilia, Noah Okafor salvaged a hard-fought point for Milan in the 84th minute. The dropped points mean Inter could clinch the Scudetto as the away team in the upcoming Milan derby.

Should Inter beat Cagliari at the San Siro in Sunday's late game, the champions-elect would only need to draw with Milan on Monday week to secure their 20th league crown.

That would be a bitter pill for Milan, who have not been in the title race as Inter have charged off into the distance since the turn of the year.

At Sassuolo, Milan twice came from two behind with Rafael Leao netting a sublime individual goal and Luka Jovic finishing from close range.

"We created more opportunities than in any match this season, if we'd had scored five or six goals no-one could have said anything," said Milan coach Stefano Pioli.

"But we have to be better because our coming matches demand a higher level of performance."

Pioli made a raft of changes in the wake of a first-leg defeat to Roma in the Europa League quarter-finals and his team were two goals behind after less than 10 minutes following early strikes from Andrea Pinamonti and Armand Lauriente.

Frenchman Lauriente's second, seven minutes after the break, ultimately ensured the point that lifted second-from-bottom Sassuolo within two points of safety.

Milan visit Rome on Thursday trying to overturn a single-goal deficit, ahead of the Milan derby and a trip to third-placed Juventus the following weekend.

"I believe 100 percent in my team, we have men of quality, we are a really good team," said goalscorer Okafor.

"Now have to focus... for sure we are going to Rome to win."


Ndicka dropped to the ground with an apparent chest problem in the 70th minute in Udine with the teams level at 1-1 after Roma striker Romelu Lukaku levelled Roberto Pereyra's first-half opener in the 64th minute.

Roma later confirmed Ivory Coast defender Ndicka, who was taken off the field on a stretcher, was conscious as he left the Bluenergy Stadium.

Ndicka raised his thumb as he was carried into the tunnel, before referee Luca Pairetto decided to abandon play following discussions with Roma coach Daniele De Rossi his Udinese counterpart Gabriele Cioffi.

The capital club added that the player "has been taken to hospital for checks" for what Italian media reported could have been a heart attack.

Serie A told AFP that the final minutes of the match will be played at a later date, yet to be confirmed, leaving Roma on 55 points in fifth place.

Daniele De Rossi's side are in a strong position to reach next season's Champions League as they are five points ahead of sixth-placed Atalanta.

A top-five finish will almost certainly yield a spot in Europe's top club competition thanks to Serie A teams' performances on the continent.

Napoli's slim chances of finishing in that five were dealt another blow after a 2-2 home draw with struggling Frosinone left the ailing champions six points behind Roma in eighth.

Walid Cheddira's first brace in Italy's top flight earned a point for Frosinone, who were on target through Matteo Politano and Victor Osimhen.

Frosinone stay just inside the bottom three and level on 27 points with 17th-placed Verona, who are outside the relegation zone on goal difference and face Atalanta on Monday.

Eusebio Di Francesco's team have only won one league match since late November but successive draws with Genoa, fourth-placed Bologna and now Napoli have boosted their hopes of staying up.