Serie A: AC Milan begins new era with last-minute draw in derby

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Saturday April 15th, 2017

MILAN (AP) Cristian Zapata's stoppage-time equalizer prevented the new era at AC Milan from getting off to a losing start on Saturday as the Rossoneri fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at city rival Inter Milan.

Antonio Candreva and Mauro Icardi scored in the first half but Alessio Romagnoli reduced the deficit in the 83rd minute before Zapata's leveler in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Milan remained sixth in Serie A, two points above Inter in the race for the final qualifying position for the Europa League.

This was the first match since the $800 million takeover of Milan was completed on Thursday by Chinese-led Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg, ending Silvio Berlusconi's 31-year reign.

Inter, which is also owned by a Chinese group, was taken over last year by Suning.

''It was an advert for the East, it was a hard-fought match, which gave the fans emotions - both positive and negative,'' Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. ''I think Milan and Inter offered up a great spectacle.

''This team gave the last victory to Berlusconi, against Palermo, and also the last trophy and that's a privilege. A win would have been better today but a draw which arrived in this way and for how the team played is a good start.''

New Milan President Yonghong Li was in the stands for the match, which kicked off at 12:30 p.m. local time - perfect for prime time Chinese television audiences seven hours ahead.

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Milan fans unveiled a banner at halftime, mocking that decision as it depicted a man eating cash with chopsticks and the words, ''All you can eat ... have a nice meal Italian league.''

The Rossoneri supporters also displayed another banner at the start of the first half, with the words: ''We hope to see seriousness, commitment and presence. We give our welcome to the new management.''

Milan attacked from the start and almost took the lead in the second minute but Carlos Bacca fired over from close range after Samir Handanovic denied Gerard Deulofeu and a series of shots was charged down.

Deulofeu went close again in the 14th but his effort went off the base of the right post from a tight angle.

Milan looked to be the more dangerous side but Inter broke the deadlock in the 36th on its first real chance. Roberto Gagliardini sent a long ball over the top to Candreva, who shrugged off Mattia De Sciglio to chip it over the onrushing Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Inter doubled its lead a minute from halftime as Ivan Perisic won the ball in midfield, played a one-two with Icardi and then raced down the left flank before pulling back from the byline for the Argentine to tap in at the near post.

It was Icardi's first goal against Milan in nine matches.

Milan got back in the match in the 66th minute when Romagnoli volleyed in Suso's cross from close range, giving Milan new belief.

Everyone, including Donnarumma, went up for a corner, which Bacca headed on and Zapata managed to turn into the net off the underside of the bar. Goal-line technology proved the ball had gone over.

It was revenge after the first meeting between the two sides this season had also ended 2-2 following Perisic's last-minute equalizer.

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ROMA 1, ATALANTA 1

Roma's faint hopes of beating Juventus to the Serie A title are all but over.

Roma slipped eight points behind Juventus with just six matches remaining. It is also only five points ahead of third-placed Napoli, which hosts Udinese later.

Atalanta remained fifth, two points ahead of AC Milan.

Jasmin Kurtic fired Atalanta in front in the 22nd after good work from Andrea Conti, who went past Antonio Rudiger on the left.

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Roma leveled five minutes after the break, when Mohamed Salah knocked down Mario Rui's cross for Edin Dzeko to tap in and score his 25th league goal of the season, keeping him level with Torino's Andrea Belotti at the top of the goalscoring charts.

Daniele De Rossi almost scored a spectacular goal but his overhead kick from the edge of the area crashed off the post. Roma hit the woodwork again when Radja Nainggolan's effort came off the underside of the crossbar.

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OTHER MATCHES

Gonzalo Higuain scored two first-half goals as Juventus won 2-0 at relegation-threatened Pescara.

However, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala limped off in the 54th with an ankle injury, which will be a worry for the Bianconeri ahead of the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, where they lead Barcelona 3-0.

Lazio's hopes of sneaking into the Champions League were also dented as it was held 2-2 at Genoa, while Fiorentina lost 2-1 against Empoli after conceding a stoppage-time penalty.

Elsewhere, Cagliari beat Chievo Verona 4-0, Torino drew 1-1 against Crotone and Bologna's match at Palermo ended 0-0.

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