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Serie A: AC Milan beats Genoa to maintain the two-point lead after Inter win

Genoa Rafael Leao and Junior Messias helped Milan move back two points ahead of Inter after the defending champion won at Spezia 3-1 hour earlier.

After beating relegation-threatened Genoa 2-0 on Friday, AC Milan retained its lead in Serie A.

After Inter won 3-1 at Spezia an hour earlier, Rafael Leao and Junior Messias helped Milan reclaim a two-point lead over the defending champions.

Inter has played one fewer match than Milan due to a postponed match versus Bologna.

On Tuesday, the two Milan teams will face off in the second leg of the Italian Cup semifinals.

Genoa stayed three points off of the relegation zone.

Milan was dealing with an injury crisis and a goal drought before of their encounter against Genoa. It came in after two consecutive goalless draws and only four goals in its previous seven games.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the veteran forward, was sidelined with a knee injury, the latest in a string of setbacks this season.

In the 11th minute, Milan took the lead when Pierre Kalulu delivered a tantalising cross from the right flank to the back post, where Leao volleyed into the bottom far corner.

The Rossoneri had few more serious goal-scoring chances, but Olivier Giroud should have doubled his side’s advantage in the 57th minute when he shot a close-range cross from Alexis Saelemaekers over the bar.

Three minutes before the end of the game, Milan clinched the victory. Salvatore Sirigu, the Genoa goalkeeper, saved Messias’ initial shot with a stunning one-handed save, but the Rossoneri attacker netted the rebound.

SUPER SUBSTITUTE

As Inter kept up the pressure on its local rival, substitute Lautaro Martinez returned from suspension to score one goal and set up another.

On a hot day in Spezia, the Nerazzurri struggled to get going and almost conceded early, but Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic came off his line and collected the ball after a sloppy interception by teammate Ivan Perisic.

Inter’s first shot on goal in the 31st minute broke the deadlock. The move was started and finished by Marcelo Brozovic, who chipped a pass into the box to Danilo D’Ambrosio, who nodded it back for the Croatia midfielder to drive into the top left corner.

Martinez came off the bench on the hour mark and increased his team’s lead 13 minutes later, after missing last weekend’s triumph over Hellas Verona due to suspension.

With his back to goal, Perisic sprinted onto a cross-field pass on the left flank and cut inside before sending in a low cross that Martnez touched into the far corner.

With a magnificent shot into the top left corner in the 88th minute, Spezia captain Giulio Maggiore reduced the score, setting up a tense finish, but Alexis Sanchez sealed the victory in stoppage time.

After a foul on Sanchez, the referee waved play on, and the Inter forward rose to score from a Martinez feed in the bottom left corner.

M’Bala Nzola, a Spezia forward, was involved in a strange occurrence. He entered the game in the 60th minute, but the referee noticed his enormous earring and told him to take it off. Nzola spent many minutes on the touchline fumbling with it with the help of Spezia personnel, but was unable to remove it and was had to be replaced 10 minutes after entering the game.

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