Juventus end AC Milan’s 27-game unbeaten run

MILAN (AFP) – Federico Chiesa scored a brace as Juventus inflicted a first league defeat this season on Serie A leaders AC Milan, ending their 27-match unbeaten run with a 3-1 win on Wednesday.

Stefano Pioli’s side maintained their one-point advantage over city rivals Inter Milan who missed a chance to go top with a 2-1 loss at Sampdoria.

AC Milan had been unbeaten since before the coronavirus lockdown last March, with a run of 12 matches without defeat to complete last season where they finished sixth, and 15 games this campaign.

But Chiesa, who joined from Fiorentina last October, bagged his first brace for the champions, scoring on 18 and 62 minutes in the San Siro with Weston McKennie getting a third with quarter of an hour to go.

“This defeat hurts,” said Pioli.

Juventus’ Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci and AC Milan’s Italian defender Alessio Romagnoli go for a header during their Italian Serie A football match on January 6. PHOTO: AFP

“If there is an opponent against whom we have suffered it is Juventus, who have won the Scudetto for nine years in a row.

“But understanding how bad you feel after a defeat will also help us grow.”

The hosts, chasing their first ‘Scudetto’ since 2011, had been hit hours before kick-off with the news that forward Ante Rebic and midfielder Rade Krunic had tested positive for Covid-19.

The absence of the pair was a blow for the side already without key players including their injured top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic for an eighth league game.

Juventus pair Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado were also out with coronavirus as the champions moved up to fourth, seven points behind Milan, but having played a game less.

“I saw the spirit of a team that wants to lead and win,” said Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo.

“This match was crucial for us.”

Chiesa has come into his own for Pirlo’s side who had been dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals this campaign.

Paulo Dybala provided the assists for both Chiesa’s goals.

Chiesa rattled the woodwork minutes before picking up a clever Dybala back-heel flick to finish off after 18 minutes.

Rafael Leao send through for Davide Calabria to grab the equaliser four minutes before the break to keep Milan’s hopes alive. But Dybala again teeded up Chiesa to rifle in the second before the pair were replaced by McKennie and Dejan Kulusevski.

Kulusevski provided the pull back for McKennie to seal the victory after 76 minutes.