Inter Milan lose unbeaten record with shock Udinese defeat

Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi celebrates scoring their first goal with Marcelo Brozovic, Dec.16, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 December 2017
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Inter Milan lose unbeaten record with shock Udinese defeat

MILAN: Inter Milan lost their Serie A unbeaten status after a shock 3-1 home defeat by Udinese on Saturday that put their position at the top of the league under threat.
Inter stay temporarily top on 40 points after their first loss of the season, which came thanks to a Rodrigo De Paul penalty and Antonin Barak tap-in, adding to Kevin Lasagna’s opener after Mauro Icardi had equalized for the hosts.
But they can be overtaken by Napoli, who are one point behind in second, if they win at Torino later on Saturday.
The loss for Luciano Spalletti’s side also gives third-placed Juventus, themselves just two points back, the opportunity to leapfrog their old rivals Inter at Bologna on Sunday.
“We work for a win the whole week, so when you achieve that aim, it means you’ve done well and that you had a bit of luck on your side as well,” said Udinese coach Massimo Oddo.
Inter looked like they were set to maintain their unbeaten record and momentarily extend their lead at the top when hot-shot Icardi levelled the scores with his 18th goal of the season, a smart volley just 71 seconds after Lasagna’s 14th-minute opener.
But despite dominating, the hosts could not find the breakthrough, and were punished just after the hour mark.
Inter defender Davide Santon compounded a poor display by handballing Silvan Widmer’s cross, and after referee Maurizio Mariani consulted the video assistant referee to check that the ball had not gone out before the Udinese right-back reached the ball, he awarded the penalty from which De Paul gave the away side the lead.
Inter continued to push and almost levelled in the 68th minute when Milan Skriniar thumped Antonio Candreva’s cross off the bar, but were punished when Barak finished a lightning break with 13 minutes left to sink the home side.
“We did much better in the second half. Inter caused us problems but eventually we settled and improved considerably,” added Oddo, after his side made it three wins in a row.
“We played on the counter-attack a lot, but that is a wise tactic against a side like Inter.”


Al-Nassr ready to challenge for title after signing Brazilian Giuliano

Updated 21 August 2018
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Al-Nassr ready to challenge for title after signing Brazilian Giuliano

  • Riyadh club have not won the title since 2015 and have set their stall out to win it for the ninth time.
  • Brazilian Giuliano is the latest star to sign for Al-Nassr, joining Nigeria international Ahmed Musa.

LONDON: Al-Nassr are ready to challenge for the Saudi Pro League title after a busy summer in the transfer market and elsewhere. That is the message from the Riyadh club who have their sights set on reclaiming the title they last won in 2015.
The side finished third last season but under the energetic leadership of new president Saud Al-Suwailem, the eight time champions ended the transfer window on Monday by confirming the signing of former 
Brazilian international Giuliano from 
Fenerbahce for a fee of €10 million ($11.5 million).
It is the second biggest deal that Al-Nassr have done since the end of last season after the Ahmed Musa transfer, the Nigerian international arriving in early August from Leicester City Premier League. And having seen the 28-year-old attacking midfielder score 14 goals in the Turkish league last season, the club feel Giuliano is a great addition to their expanding squad.
Not only that, the club has brought in former Liverpool and Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones, former Watford star and Morocco international Nordin Amrabat, Peru international defender Christian Ramos and also welcome back Saudi star Yahya Al-Shehri from his loan in Spain.
“We are very happy with the squad going into the new season,” an Al-Nassr official told Arab News.
“It was already a good one but we have strengthened in every area and especially have added some very exciting attacking players. If the coach can get the new signings to settle quickly then we could have a good season.”
There is no automatic demand for the title but an improvement on last season when Al-Nassr finished 12 points behind champions and Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal is required.
“We know that it won’t be easy as the top teams all look to be stronger after spending on some good talent from overseas,” added the official.
“We want to be challenging for the title, that is where we should be. It helps that we also have a coach that has done it before.”
For Al-Nassr, the return of Jose Daniel Carreno could be a game-changer. The Uruguayan tactician had a successful spell with the club and lifted the 2013 league title and the Crown Prince Cup in the same year. He returned to the club in March and his knowledge of Al-Nassr and the league is seen as vital.
“I think the changes to the team have been of great benefit,” Carreno said after last week’s 2-1 win at UAE side Al-Jazira in the Arab Champions Cup. “We have more firepower going forward and we will look to be aggressive and put teams on the backfoot, and press higher up the pitch than before.
“There is still work to do but we are moving to where we want to be. The league is going to be tough this time with Al-Hilal looking strong and signing players, and Al-Ittihad will not have the kind of season they had last time but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
There have been developments off the pitch too. President Al-Suwailem was appointed in April and has been working hard to improve standards at the club and increase revenues.
Earlier this month, the president went to the UAE to sign a four year sponsorship deal with Etihad Airlines that is reportedly worth SR50 million ($13.34 million) a year.
“There is more energy at all levels of the club,” said the official.
“Of course, it depends on what happens when the season starts but we can’t wait for the season to start.”