Pulisic shoots Milan second as Juve held by Atalanta

Empoli’s Polish defender #19 Bartosz Bereszynski and AC Milan’s Swiss forward #17 Noah Okafor fight for the ball during the Italian Serie A football match between AC Milan and Empoli at San Siro stadium in Milan, on March 10, 2024. AFP

Christian Pulisic fired AC Milan up to second in Serie A with the only goal in Sunday’s 1-0 win over lowly Empoli while Juve were held to an entertaining 2-2 home draw by Atalanta.

US star Pulisic gave Milan a scrappy win with his eighth league goal of an encouraging debut season in Italy, a deflected strike off unfortunate Empoli defender Sebastiano Luperto.

The 25-year-old had a difficult time at Chelsea but since moving to Milan from London last summer he has scored 10 times in all competitions and set up six more.

“It’s a good feeling, it was good for us to get the three points. It wasn’t a nice goal, it was a bit lucky but at the end of the day we take it,” said Pulisic to DAZN.

“I feel like I’m in some of my best form, I’ve been given a lot of confidence and trust here from the staff, from my teammates, the city and the fans. So I’m feeling really, really good here.”

Stefano Pioli’s side are 16 points behind their local rivals and champions-elect Inter Milan who beat fourth-placed Bologna on Saturday.

Milan now turn their attentions to Thursday’s Europa league last-16 return leg with Slavia Prague, with a 4-2 lead from the home leg.

Empoli are one point above the relegation zone but performed in a manner which suggested they should be good enough to avoid the drop with survival specialist Davide Nicola.

Milan took second spot off Juventus whose poor run of form continued against sixth-placed Atalanta in Turin.

Teun Koopmeiners both opened and completed the scoring as Atalanta snatched a draw which left them four points behind Bologna who are in the final Champions League spot.

– Juve stall again –

Juve looked set to retake second from Milan when quick-fire goals from Andrea Cambiaso and Arkadiusz Milik put the hosts ahead in the 70th minute.

Instead Juve are a point behind Milan after picking up just six from their last seven matches and going from title challengers to also-rans in the space of weeks.

“We played well against a good team… we’ve gained a point on Bologna and Atalanta are now 11 points behind us,” said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“Our aim is to finish in the top four. I can’t criticise the team, it was a tricky atmosphere at half-time and they reacted well. The effort has never been lacking.”

Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta are a point behind Roma who stayed fifth thanks to Diego Llorente’s last-gasp leveller which earned the capital club a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina.

Llorente smashed in the equaliser in the fifth minute of stoppage time to snatch a draw after goalkeeper Mile Svilar kept Roma in the game by saving Cristiano Biraghi’s penalty in the 81st minute.

Roma were on a high after hammering Brighton in the Europa League on Thursday but goals from Luca Ranieri and Rolando Mandragora had Fiorentina deservedly ahead in Florence until Llorente struck.

Svilar’s crucial save meant that Fiorentina have failed to score from the penalty spot four times this Serie A season.

Lecce are level on 25 points with Empoli in 15th after being beaten 1-0 at home by Verona following an early strike from Michael Folorunsho.

However that wasn’t the biggest story from that match as coach Roberto D’Aversa headbutted Verona striker Thomas Henry after a stormy encounter in southern Italy.

D’Aversa later admitted to Sky Sport that his behaviour was “inexcusable” before then claiming on Instagram he never headbutted Henry at all.

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