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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

European roundup: Victories for Milan and Inter send Serie A race to final day | European club football

A double from Argentina striker Lautaro Martínez earned Internazionale a 3-1 win at Cagliari, a victory that ensured the Serie A title race will go to the final weekend.

With the leaders, Milan, having beaten Atalanta 2-0 at the San Siro earlier on Sunday, Inter had to win in Sardinia to keep the title race alive, edging in front in the 25th minute through Matteo Darmian. Martínez added a second six minutes after the break for Inter and they appeared on course for a comfortable ninth win in 10 matches in all competitions, before Charalampos Lykogiannis arrowed in a strike out of nowhere to get Cagliari back in it.

Inter suffered some nervy moments before Martinez’s quality shone through at the last, as his classy finish six minutes from time finally ended Cagliari’s hopes of a comeback. The victory ensured Inter remained two points behind Milan going into the final round. The champions must beat Sampdoria at home on Sunday, and hope Milan lose at Sassuolo, if they are to retain the Scudetto.

Milan closed in on their first Serie A title in 11 years with goals from Rafael Leão and Theo Hernández. But Stefano Pioli’s team looked nervy and devoid of ideas in the first half, failing to create a clear-cut chance in the entire opening 45 minutes.

Their quality shone through in the second half, however, as a fine finish from the in-form Brazilian forward Leão and a superb solo effort from the full-back Hernández saw Milan home, much to the relief of an expectant San Siro. Eighth-placed Atalanta, who are still hoping to qualify for Europe next season, rarely threatened.

Elsewhere in Serie A, Napoli made sure they will finish third, ahead of Juventus, after a 3-0 win over Genoa.

A late second-half header from Youssef En-Nesyri earned Sevilla a 1-1 draw at Atlético Madrid, securing Champions League qualification despite extending their winless run to four games. The Atlético defender José María Giménez scored the opener with a header in the 30th minute. Sevilla equalised five minutes from full time following a mistake by Reinildo Mandava, who gifted the ball to Oliver Torres; he crossed perfectly for En-Nesyri to score.

With one match remaining, the result left Sevilla fourth on 67 points, three ahead of Real Betis in fifth, but with a better head-to-head record against their local rivals. The Copa del Rey winners, who had already secured a Europa League spot, won 2-0 at home against Granada.

Barcelona were held to a goalless draw at Getafe, but still wrapped up second place ahead of Atlético to secure a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri celebrates his goal against Atlético Madrid.
Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri celebrates his goal against Atlético Madrid. Photograph: José Jordan/AFP/Getty Images

Real Sociedad secured a spot in the Europa League after recovering from going a goal down to win 2-1 at Villarreal with second-half goals from Alexander Isak and Martin Zubimendi. They are sixth on 62 points, six ahead of Unai Emery’s Villarreal side who could fail to qualify for European competition entirely, after reaching the Champions League semi-finals this season. They are only one point ahead of eighth-placed Athletic Bilbao, who won 2-0 against Osasuna.

Villarreal play Barcelona next Sunday while Sevilla play Athletic, who are still fighting for seventh place and a spot in the Europa Conference League.

Alavés were relegated following a 3-1 defeat by Levante, while a Rúben Sobrino strike earned Cádiz a reprieve as they kept alive their slim hopes of avoiding the drop with a 1-1 home draw with Real Madrid.

The four-times Bundesliga champions Werder Bremen won promotion to the top division after a one-year absence with a 2-0 victory over Jahn Regensburg that sealed second spot in the second division.

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Niclas Füllkrug put Werder in the driving seat with a shot off the post in the 10th minute but the hosts only settled their nerves when Marvin Ducksch slotted in from close range to make it 2-0 six minutes after the restart. Werder joined second tier champions and already promoted Schalke as the two sides going up.

Hamburg needed to battle from a goal down to beat Hansa Rostock 3-2 to finish third ahead of Darmstadt on goal difference, and set up a playoff with Hertha Berlin in their attempt to return to the top flight after four years. Hertha, who finished 16th in the Bundesliga, are managed by the Hamburg great Felix Magath.

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