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Serie A Weekly: Dimarco’s screamer fire Inter past Empoli, Leao keeps Milan within touching distance

It wasn’t the most eventful Serie A round by any stretch of the imagination, with nine out of ten games featuring two or fewer goals. 

After a hard-earned win in Tuscay, Inter Milan preserved their flawless league start, remaining the only side in the division with a perfect record.

Here’s everything that happened on Gameweek 5. 

Milan back to winning ways 

After a 5-1 rout at the hands of Inter and a stomach-wrenching scoreless draw against Newcastle United in midweek Champions League action, AC Milan found a way out of a mini-crisis.

In his first Serie A start as the Rossoneri captain, Rafael Leao broke the deadlock against Hellas Verona to inspire Stefano Pioli’s side to a narrow 1-0 victory at San Siro.

Saturday’s clash in Lombardy started behind schedule due to a poor pitch condition caused by the heavy rainfall in the build-up to the game, forcing a slight postponement of the kick-off. 

Without several significant first-team members, including Mike Maignan, Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez, Milan failed to shine against last season’s relegation fighters but still put three points on the board.

Except for an embarrassing Derby della Madonnina fiasco, Pioli’s men have won all four remaining league matches this season to stay within touching distance of pacesetters Inter.

Inzaghi reaches club milestone as Inter squeeze past Empoli

As the only side in Serie A with a 100% record after the opening four rounds, the Nerazzurri went into Sunday’s fixture at the Stadio Carlo Castellani as odds-on favourites to beat rock-bottom Empoli.

However, after losing the first four league outings ‘to nil,’ including a 7-0 demolition at Roma last weekend, Gli Azzurri sacked Paolo Zanetti and brought back Aurelio Andreazzoli in the lead-up to Inter’s visit.

The managerial shift almost paid dividends, but Federico Dimarco’s ‘goal of the season’ contender sunk Empoli in a hard-fought 1-0 triumph for Simone Inzaghi’s side.

Dimarco’s screamer helped Inzaghi book a membership in a select club of Nerazzurri managers to have opened a new Serie A campaign with five straight wins. 

He has joined Antonio Conte, Roberto Mancini and Helenio Herrera as the fourth Inter boss to achieve this flattering milestone. 

Szczesny and Gatti shoot Juventus in the foot

Juventus’ solid four-match start to 2023/24 (W3, D1) laid the foundation for the club’s renewed Scudetto hope, seeing them travel to Sassuolo in high spirits. 

However, Massimiliano Allegri’s lofty ambitions fell into pieces at the Mapei Stadium as the Neroverdi hammered his team 4-2, taking full advantage of a wet surface to bring the Turin giants to their knees. 

The visitors’ nightmare started in the 12th minute when Wojciech Szczesny made a rookie mistake to let Armand Lauriente open the scoring from the edge of the box. 

Although the game was back and forth, Juventus collapsed when it mattered most, with Andrea Pinamonti putting Alessio Dionisi’s strugglers 3-2 up in the 82nd minute.

There was still some time left on the clock for the Bianconeri when Federico Gatti scored one of the most bizarre own goals you’ll see in Europe’s top-five leagues this season. 

He smashed the ball into his own net from around 30 yards to halt Juventus’ unbeaten league start.

Napoli held scoreless for the first time in ten duels against Bologna

After wasting a catalogue of chances in a 2-1 Champions League win over Sporting Braga on Tuesday, Napoli talisman Victor Osimhen had another underwhelming night by his high standard.

The Nigerian hit the post early on from a promising position before squandering a 72nd-minute penalty well off target as Bologna held Rudi Garcia’s side to a 0-0 draw at Renato Dall’Ara.

Garica’s early regime at the Diego Maradona Stadium is going from bad to worse, with the reigning Serie A champions going winless in three straight league games for the first time in over a year.

The Frenchman was caught having a heated discussion with Osimhen on the touchline after withdrawing last season’s Capocannoniere award winner in the final moments in Emilia-Romagna.

Garcia was in a similar situation last weekend as underperforming Khvicha Kvaratskhelia couldn’t hide his frustration after being subbed off in a 2-2 draw against Genoa. 

Roma draw in Turin as Lukaku scores again

After opening his Roma account in a 7-0 thumping of Empoli, Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku netted a second-half winner in a 2-1 Europa League triumph at Sheriff Tiraspol on Thursday.

The Belgian striker maintained his free-scoring form at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, slotting home a low effort midway through the second half to give the Giallorossi the lead against Torino.

However, Duvan Zapata, who was inches away from joining Jose Mourinho’s troops at the final stretch of the summer transfer window, rescued a point for the hosts with a last-gasp header.

Another disappointing result left Roma stranded in the lower reaches after picking up just one win in five Serie A matches this season. 

Around the grounds

Atalanta maintained their aura of invincibility in Bergamo with a cruising 2-0 win over newly-promoted Cagliari, thanks to the goals from Ademola Lookman and Mario Pasalic on either side of half-time.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have won all three competitive home games this season by 2+ goals ‘to nil,’ while their visitors remain winless after the first five rounds (D2, L3).

Like Cagliari, Udinese’s disastrous start to the new campaign hit a new low on Sunday as Fiorentina ran out 2-0 victors at the Dacia Arena, putting more pressure on the Friulians boss Andrea Sottil.

While Sottil’s future in Udine is in doubt, Roberto D’Aversa’s sensational start to his managerial stint at Lecce continued on Saturday as Remi Oudin netted a late winner to propel his side to a 1-0 triumph over Genoa.

D’Aversa’s men are one of only two Serie A sides yet to lose this season, alongside Inter.

Meanwhile, Salernitana can’t catch a break this year, drawing 1-1 at home against newcomers Frosinone on Friday to extend their winless league start (D2, L3).

Lazio stunned Napoli on matchday three to avoid that fate, but a disheartening 1-1 home draw against Monza cast further doubt on Maurizio Sarri’s future at the Stadio Olimpico. 

Player of the week

Despite Juventus’ harsh reality check at the Mapei Stadium, Federico Chiesa delivered another top-class performance. 

The in-form winger first whipped in a delightful cross to force Matias Vina’s own goal before taking his tally to four Serie A goals this season with a thumping finish from inside the box. 

Looking Ahead

Juventus will be desperate to bounce back when they meet high-flying Lecce at the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday.

Their executioners, Sassuolo, will head to Giuseppe Meazza to encounter relentless Inter the following day.

Current runners-up Milan will play winless Cagliari at Unipol Domus, while Napoli and Udinese lock horns in a must-win clash at the Maradona Stadium. 

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