Ibrahimovic becomes oldest scorer in Serie A
Ibrahimovic becomes oldest scorer as toothless Milan lose 3-1 at Udinese
IMAGE: AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts. Photograph: Daniele Mascolo/Reuters
AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the oldest goalscorer in Serie A history but it was not enough to prevent them suffering a 3-1 loss at Udinese on Saturday in a blow to the defending champions’ hopes of securing a top-four finish.
Milan missed the chance to jump to second and remained fourth with 48 points, a point clear of fifth-placed AS Roma, who play Lazio on Sunday.
“It was a negative performance. When the team plays like this, neither aggressive, nor intense, nor precise or focused, it means the coach has worked badly in preparing the match. We were too far below our capabilities this evening,” Milan manager Stefano Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“Look, it’s clear we won’t retain the Scudetto, but we can win this mini-league of teams trying to qualify for the Champions League. We want and can do better this season.”
Udinese took the lead after nine minutes when Lazar Samardzic intercepted a poor pass from Ismael Bennacer in midfield and surged forward into the box, where Roberto Pereyra latched onto the ball and slotted it into the right corner.
It took Milan 20 minutes to get a foothold in the match after the hosts had taken an aggressive approach from the first whistle, creating several chances to double their lead.
It was Milan who struck next however, albeit in confusing circumstances.
Milan striker Ibrahimovic first missed a penalty after a handball late in the first half, before it was ordered to be retaken due to encroachment after play had already continued for a minute.
Udinese coach Andrea Sottil was sent off after verbally abusing the referee following the decision.
Ibrahimovic, who was starting his first game since January 2022, did not miss a second time, converting four minutes into first-half stoppage time, to become the oldest goalscorer in Serie A history at 41 years and 166 days.
He surpassed the previous record set by Alessandro Costacurta in 2007 by 141 days. Costacurta also scored his last goal from the penalty spot for Milan in a defeat against Udinese.
The celebrations were short-lived, however, as Beto put Udinese back ahead two minutes later when he converted an Isaac Success cross from close range.
Udinese made sure of the win when an unmarked Kingsley Ehizibue tapped in a pass from Destiny Udogie at the back post in the 70th minute.
The win maintained Udinese’s hopes of playing in Europe next season, as they moved up to eighth place, seven points behind Atalanta in sixth, the last qualification place.
Griezmann on target again as Atletico extend unbeaten run
IMAGE: Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Lemar celebrates scoring their third goal with Koke. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/Reuters
Atletico Madrid secured their third consecutive LaLiga win with an easy 3-0 home victory against Valencia on Saturday, as goals from Antoine Griezmann, Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Lemar extended their unbeaten run in the Spanish league to 10 games.
An inspired Griezmann put Atletico ahead early with a close-range strike and Carrasco extended their advantage slotting home a precise shot right after the break.
Substitute Lemar wrapped up Atletico’s victory in the 67th minute, finishing beautifully from Alvaro Morata’s cross as Diego Simeone’s team produced another brilliant display.
Atletico climbed to 51 points and have tightened their grip on third place in the standings, six points clear of fourth-placed Real Sociedad and five behind Real Madrid in second, both with a game in hand.
Struggling at the bottom of the table, Valencia are 17th on 26 points, level with Getafe and Almeria but clear of the relegation zone on goal-difference.
After a difficult start to the season, Simeone’s team have finally hit their stride and produced a dominant performance against Valencia, who had their first and only shot on target as fulltime approached.
Atletico have played their best football of the campaign in recent weeks, mainly due to the form of Griezmann. The 31-year-old forward is playing some of his best football in years, having excelled for France at the World Cup in Qatar, and is close to the form that earned him third place in the 2018 Ballon d’Or. His goal against Valencia was his 151st for Atletico, while this season he leads LaLiga in assists (eight) and is second in goals and assists combined (17). Atletico, who have conceded only four goals in their last 10 matches, have also rediscovered their old defensive form, a trademark of their side since Simeone arrived over a decade ago. Securing a top-four finish and a place in Europe’s elite club competition next season will be crucial for Simeone, who will be entering the final year of his contract.
“The team is enjoying the last games. When things go this well, with the equipment plugged in you can enjoy it. The team is getting dynamic and we are moving forward,” midfielder Marcos Llorente told Movistar Plus.
“The goal is to finish as high as possible. We only have LaLiga left, we want to do our best here, try to climb positions, there are great teams above, why not go for them? As long as it is mathematically possible, we are going to go for it all.”