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Rugani scores late as Juventus end winless run with 3-2 victory over Frosinone; Inter rout Lecce

Associated Press Monday, 26 February 2024, 07:16 Last update: about 3 months ago

Daniele Rugani scored deep into stoppage time to help Juventus end its winless run with a 3-2 victory over lowly Frosinone — and avoid league leader Inter Milan extending its already considerable advantage on Sunday.

The in-form Dušan Vlahović had already scored twice in the first half, thanks to two assists from United States international Weston McKennie, and he also turned provider late on as Juventus snapped a run of four matches without a win.

Second-place Juventus remained nine points below Inter, which won 4-0 at relegation-threatened Lecce and has also played a match less than the Bianconeri. Third-place AC Milan drew 1-1 against Atalanta.

It was a fourth straight loss for Frosinone and left it three points above the drop zone.

Juventus took the lead with less than three minutes on the clock. McKennie controlled a ball over the top and crossed from the right for Vlahović to slot into the far bottom corner.

However, Walid Cheddira headed in the equalizer 11 minutes later and the visitors turned the match around completely in the 27th when Marco Brescianini fired in after a great through ball from Emanuele Valeri.

Juventus leveled five minutes later as McKennie controlled a cross from Andrea Cambiaso and found Vlahović, who curled into the bottom left corner for his 15th league goal of the season and his ninth in seven matches.

McKennie was forced off three minutes from time with a left shoulder injury after landing awkwardly.

Just as it appeared Juventus was heading for another winless match, the ever-dangerous Vlahović nodded on a corner to the back post for Rugani to fire home from the tightest of angles in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

COACHING DEBUT

Zito Luvumbo also netted late for relegation-threatened Cagliari to snatch a 1-1 draw at defending champion Napoli and spoil coach Francesco Calzona's Serie A debut.

Napoli had appeared on course for a first win in four matches after Victor Osimhen was left completely unmarked to head in a cross in the 66th minute before Luvumbo leveled in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

In another blow, Osimhen limped off six minutes from time seemingly injured and will now be a doubt for next week's matches against Sassuolo and Juventus.

Osimhen had only just returned from the Africa Cup of Nations, where he helped Nigeria reach the final. His first match back was Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Champions League — where he also scored.

That was Calzona’s first match in charge after replacing the fired Walter Mazzarri on Monday.

Calzona, who is also coach of the Slovakia national team, had never managed at club level although he had two spells as a Napoli assistant.

Napoli remained ninth, while Cagliari moved level on points with Hellas Verona and Sassuolo, which is 17th and in the last spot above the relegation zone.

LAUTARO LEADS

Lautaro Martínez scored twice and had a hand in another goal as both the Inter forward and his team remained firmly on course for the top prizes in the Italian league.

Lautaro has netted 22 times this season in Serie A, seven more than his nearest challenger Vlahović. Sunday’s goals also took the Argentine World Cup winner's overall tally in the Italian league to 101.

Lautaro scored a goal in each half, while Davide Frattesi and Stefan de Vrij also added to the scoreline in the second period.

Referee Daniele Doveri had to be replaced by the fourth official at the break after picking up an injury, leading to a slight delay to the start of the second half.

LEÃO'S BACK

Rafael Leão continued his scoring streak and this time in Serie A as he netted his first league goal in five months.

Leão put Milan in front within three minutes as he slalomed his way past one defender, skipped over a tackle from another and fired into the far side of the net – grinning as he did it.

It was Leão's third goal in four matches, after netting in both Europa League games against Rennes, but his first Serie A goal since September.

However, Teun Koopmeiners leveled from the spot after Olivier Giroud had been penalized for a high tackle on Emil Holm shortly before halftime.

Atalanta moved to within two points of fourth-place Bologna, with a game in hand.

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