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Serie A Weekly: Giroud ageing like fine wine, Inter find new hero, Lazio stun Napoli

Another Serie A weekend is behind us and, unlike the previous round, Gameweek 3 was packed with goals, delivering drama and breathtaking moments. 

AC Milan and Inter Milan have established themselves as the early pacesetters and remain the only sides in Italy’s top flight with a perfect record heading into September’s international break. 

Here’s a brief recap of all the happenings on Matchday 3.

Milan ruin Lukaku’s Roma debut 

Inspired by Christian Pulisic’s quick-fire start to his Serie A adventure, Milan came into their blockbuster clash against out-of-sorts Roma in a buoyant mood after back-to-back wins against Bologna and Torino.

The United States forward failed to score for the third time on the trot, leaving Stefano Pioli’s side to rely on evergreen striker Olivier Giroud to lead them to a precious 2-1 win at the Stadio Olimpico. 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek drew an early penalty, with the 36-year-old frontman finding the net from the spot to take his seasonal tally to four and put the Rossoneri ahead inside the opening nine minutes. 

Only three minutes into the second half, Rafael Leao came up with a moment of brilliance to double the visitors’ lead with a stunning bicycle kick. 

Jose Mourinho’s return to the touchline after a ten-day ban failed to produce the desired effect, but Fikayo Tomori’s expulsion at the hour mark offered Roma a lifeline. 

Faced with a mountain to climb, the Special One introduced Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku into the fray, but the Giallorossi couldn’t find their way past Mike Maignan. 

Although Leonardo Spinazzola’s injury-time strike provided some late drama, it was too little too late for the hosts.

Milan stood firm for the rest of the game to extend their unbeaten league run against Roma to eight matches and condemn Mourinho’s side to a three-game winless start for the first time since 2011/12.

Rampant Inter put Fiorentina to the sword

Simone Inzaghi’s new formidable attacking partnership could provide a backbone for Inter’s bid to ascend to the Serie A throne for the first time since 2020/21.

Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram proved too hot to handle for fatigue-plagued Fiorentina, laying the groundwork for an eye-catching 4-0 victory at the San Siro. 

Thuram opened his Inter account with a diving header midway through the first half to hand the Nerazzurri a slender half-time lead before delivering a delightful assist to Martinez for the second goal. 

Hakan Calhanoglu effortlessly slotted home a penalty to send Inter into dreamland.

New Inter captain Martinez completed his second brace of the season in the 73rd minute to take the lead in the early Capocannoniere award race, stretching his haul to five. 

Fiorentina’s dismal performance in Lombardy may have been induced by a physically demanding 2-0 home win over Rapid Vienna in the second leg of their Europa Conference League qualifier three days before.

Juventus avenge last season’s humiliation at Empoli

Keen to settle the score with Empoli after an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at the Stadio Carlo Castellani last May, Juventus travelled to Tuscany off the back of an underwhelming 1-1 home draw against Bologna. 

Captain Danilo opened the scoring on time to give Massimiliano Allegri’s side an early one-goal cushion before Dusan Vlahovic wasted a golden opportunity to maintain his free-scoring start to the season.

Empoli goalkeeper Etrit Berisha pulled off a stunning save to thwart the Serbian striker’s attempt from 12 yards late in the first half, but he only postponed the inevitable. 

Resurgent winger Federico Chiesa crowned his brilliant individual display with a late goal to seal the deal and keep Juventus within touching distance of the leading duo.

While the Bianconeri can dream big despite an uneventful recruitment campaign, Empoli boss Paolo Zanetti has plenty of work to do as his side entered the international break pointless, let alone scoreless. 

Lazio upset the odds to beat Napoli

Not even the most optimistic Lazio fans could’ve dreamt Maurizio Sarri’s men would topple the reigning Serie A champions in their backyard following a brace of disastrous losses to Lecce and Genoa. 

However, the Biancocelesti put on a stellar performance at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona to inflict a first league defeat on new Napoli boss Rudi Garcia. 

Skilled playmaker Luis Alberto grabbed the headlines on Saturday night with a world-class backheel from close range to fire the visitors in front at the half-hour mark.

Napoli replied instantaneously through Piotr Zielinski to ensure parity at half-time.

But Lazio regained the lead early in the second half as summer arrival Daichi Kamada scored his first Serie A goal, showing he could be a decent replacement for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. 

An unexpected win in Naples proved Lazio’s runner-up finish last term was no fluke, even though a woeful league start could’ve suggested otherwise. 

Around the grounds

After two consecutive losses at the beginning of the season, Sassuolo got off the mark on Domenico Berardi’s return, ending Hellas Verona’s perfect league start with a comprehensive 3-1 triumph. 

Berardi scored twice beyond half-time to take Alessio Dionisi’s men into the win column.

Like Sassuolo, Bologna and Torino recorded their first wins of the season, overcoming newly-promoted sides Cagliari and Genoa, respectively. 

Both teams captured three points beyond the 88th minute, with Giovanni Fabbian winning it for Bologna and Nemanja Radonjic doing the same for Torino.

Lecce’s fairytale in the early days of Roberto D’Avers’a regime continued with a 2-0 home victory over Salernitana on Sunday night.

After a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Lazio on day one, they cancelled out a 2-0 half-time deficit to hold Fiorentina to a 2-2 draw on matchday two, and now they left Salernitana with two points from three matches.

The only goalless affair took place at the Dacia Arena as Udinese and Frosinone drew 0-0 in a match highlighted by VAR’s interventions.

Player of the week

Gianluca Scamacca ran the show on his first Serie A start for Atalanta, netting on either side of half-time to propel Gian Piero Gasperini’s lads to a thumping 3-0 home win over Monza.

Back in Italy after a disappointing stint at West Ham United, the 24-year-old soaked up the limelight as the new La Dea hero with a match-winning performance at the Gewiss Stadium.

Scamacca thought he had scored his first hat-trick for Atalanta, but VAR cut his celebrations short, finding him a fraction offside. 

Ones to watch in Gameweek 4

After a short pause to accommodate the international break, Serie A will return to action on September 16 with two mouth-watering encounters. 

Lazio’s trip to the Allianz Stadium to take on Juventus will put both sides’ top-four credentials on the line. 

However, all eyes will be on the first edition of the 2023/24 Derby della Madonnina when Inter and Milan lock horns at Meazza in the latest chapter of their eternal rivalry. 

After the game, only one Milan powerhouse will be left standing as the only club with a 100% record after the opening four rounds, provided they don’t share the spoils. 

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