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March 19, 2019

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Players fight as Milan falls to Inter

AC Milan’s lack of unity on the field was plainly reflected off it when two players almost came to blows on the bench.

Franck Kessie was visibly upset after being replaced by Andrea Conti in the 69th minute of Sunday’s 2-3 derby loss to Inter Milan. The Ivory Coast international then grew even angrier and had to be held back by his teammates after Lucas Biglia said something to him.

Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said he was disappointed by the incident but managed to crack a small joke after the match.

“Luckily I didn’t see it because I was focused on the match, otherwise I would have probably thrown myself in the mix, too,” said Gattuso, who was known as a tough, no-nonsense defender during his playing days.

“We lost on the field as well as off it,” he said. “This hurt me because it means that someone hasn’t understood what I believe in. For me, it’s a big defeat on a professional level.”

Kessie and Biglia both spoke to the media after the match and publicly apologized.

“I got it wrong because I should have understood the situation after he was replaced,” Argentina midfielder Biglia said. “I wanted him to understand that what he did wasn’t the right thing as it pertained to his teammate coming on. We’ve cleared things up and have talked in the changing room.

“I am sorry to the fans, the club, my teammates and the coach ... It was a bad moment, and now we have to look ahead.”

It’s not clear what Biglia said to Kessie, but the Ivorian also expressed regret for the incident. “I apologize to Lucas,” Kessie said. “He’s older than me, and I apologize also to the fans and the coach.”

Tensions were also high on the pitch, with Conti seeing red for a tackle on Inter striker Lautaro Martinez, but a VAR review saw the referee change it to yellow, to the fury of Inter coach Luciano Spalletti, who was sent off for dissent.

Milan had been favored to win the match after a run of five straight league victories but there was little evidence of the good play on display on Sunday. The team appeared strangely disjointed, and top scorer Krzysztof Piatek received hardly any service during the match.

Milan’s defense, which has been so resilient of late, also looked shaky with goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and captain Alessio Romagnoli to blame for Inter’s first goal — scored by Matias Vecino — in the third minute.

The three goals Milan conceded — Stefan de Vrij and Martinez (from the penalty spot) scored the other two — were as many as it had allowed in its previous 10 matches.

Inter had also won the reverse fixture thanks to Mauro Icardi’s late winner but the Argentine has not played in over a month amid a contract dispute, which saw him stripped of the captain’s armband.

Inter moved third in the Serie A standings, two points above Milan and six ahead of fifth-place AS Roma. The top four teams qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League.

Lazio and Atalanta are both two points further adrift in sixth and seventh, respectively.

Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina, meanwhile, is expected to be released from hospital soon after being kept under observation following a head injury.

Ospina collapsed on the field during a Serie A match on Sunday.

The Colombia international is reportedly in good spirits and was visited by Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti yesterday.

Ospina was called up for Colombia’s upcoming friendlies against Japan and South Korea but will now remain in Naples.

Ospina injured his head in a collision with Udinese forward Ignacio Pussetto during the opening minutes of the match but insisted he was fine to continue. However, he fell to the ground about 40 minutes later at the Stadio San Paolo.

The 30-year-old Ospina was stretchered off the field and immediately taken to hospital.

Napoli won the match 4-2 to stay second in Serie A behind leader Juventus.


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