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FOOTBALL

Inter snatch last-gasp draw in Milan derby

Ivan Perisic struck a dramatic late leveller to grab a share of the spoils for Inter Milan in an enthralling 2-2 derby draw with AC Milan that saw Suso hit a brace for the hosts.

Inter snatch last-gasp draw in Milan derby
Inter Milan's forward Ivan Perisic from Croatia celebrates after scoring the equaliser. Photo: AFP

Milan, looking to move up to second behind Juventus after Roma's 2-1 slip-up earlier at Atalanta, were seconds away from securing the local bragging rights.

Suso broke the deadlock on 43 minutes and hit a brilliant second before the  hour after Antonio Candreva had given Stefano Pioli's men hope with a well-struck but controversial 53rd-minute leveller.

However Milan's celebration plans were promptly cancelled as Perisic, the Nerazzurri's star player on the night, coolly side-footed past teenaged goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma from a knocked-on corner in the first minute of added time.

Milan remain third and level on points with Roma, with both seven points behind leaders Juve. Inter are up to ninth.

It was new Inter coach Pioli's first game in charge of a Serie A club since being sacked by Lazio following a 3-1 defeat to city rivals Roma in April.

The 51-year-old saw his team dominate an enthralling opening half that had Donnarumma on his toes only for Suso to fire Milan into the lead just before the break, and he wants improvements up front.

“To score goals you need determination and a little anger, this is certainly something we have to improve on,” Pioli said afterwards.

“We have to find players who have this kind of attitude.”

Although not a direct reference to Inter striker Mauro Icardi, who failed to add to his league-leading tally of 10 goals on the night, the Argentine has been warned.

He was one of several Inter players to spurn chances in a dominant first half in front of over 77,000 fans.

Perisic sent a flying header from Danilo D'Ambrosio's cross just wide with one of Inter's best chances in the opening period, before they suffered a blow when tough-tackling defender Gary Medel hobbled off to be replaced by Jeison Murillo.

Milan went in front shortly after, Giacomo Bonaventura holding the ball up on the edge of the area before setting up Suso for a superb curling shot that beat Samir Handanovic at his far post.

Milan threatened first after the restart, Bonaventura beating Geoffrey Kondogbia to see his drive deflected out by D'Ambrosio.

Furious protests

But minutes later the hosts were left furiously protesting a refereeing decision not to call a foul after Manuel Locatelli tumbled under a challenge on the left flank.

Inter's quick throw-in went straight to Candreva, who strolled across the edge of the area to beat Donnarumma with a superb shot into the top corner from 25 yards.

Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said later: “The referee had a great game tonight, but on that incident it was borderline.

“The ball did come off Locatelli but he was pushed into the ball and Inter took the thow-in quickly.”

But Inter's joy was short-lived.

Spaniard Suso played a one-two with Carlos Bacca and then produced some fancy footwork to get away from Joao Miranda before firing a shot past Handanovic and into the far bottom corner.

Yet Inter came fighting back and a great lob by Candreva set up Perisic for a left-footed first-time effort that inched wide of Donnarumma's far post.

Inter's persistance paid off as Milan made the mistake of leaving Croatian star Perisic with enough space to equalise.

“It's always disappointing when you concede so late in a game but the lads should be happy with their performance, their attitude and commitment was spot-on,” said Montella.

“They'll have a little trouble sleeping, but they shouldn't. We'd be a lot more disappointed if we had 10 points less.”

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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