Inter on Sunday survived a late US Sassuolo scare and a bizarre intervention by a parachutist to win 4-3 and keep in touch with leaders Juventus in Serie A, as Stefano Pioli’s first game in charge of AC Milan ended in a 2-2 draw against lowly US Lecce.
Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez each bagged a brace in a seven-goal thriller to keep Antonio Conte’s side second, a point behind Juventus, who beat Bologna 2-1 on Saturday.
Inter had led 4-1 with 20 minutes to go after Martinez had opened the scoring after two minutes in Reggio Emilia, then adding a second from the penalty spot after 71 minutes.
Lukaku found the net after 38 minutes and converted a penalty just before halftime, despite a parachutist inexplicably landing on the pitch just as he was about to kick the ball.
The man was quickly led off by security agents as players and fans looked on bewildered.
Filip Djuricic (74) and Jeremie Boga (81) hit back for the hosts, who are struggling in 17th position, to add to Domenic Berardi’s first-half goal, but Inter held on for a win after consecutive defeats against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League and Juventus in Serie A.
“Once it goes to 3-1 and 4-1, it should be over,” said Lukaku, who has scored five Serie A goals in eight games. “In the first half, we did everything well. However, we should have scored in the first 15 minutes after the restart to really kill off the match. The positive we take is that we got the three points, but we need to defend better than that. It was very important to get this win.”
Meanwhile, Pioli’s debut as Milan coach was spoiled by two players he previously coached — Khouma Babacar and Marco Calderoni.
Babacar canceled out Hakan Calhanoglu’s first-half goal when he missed a penalty, but turned in the rebound after an hour at the San Siro.
Krzysztof Piatek came off the bench and scored with nine minutes to go after a Calhanoglu pull back, but Calderoni rifled in the equalizer in stoppage-time.
“Tonight I suffered because of my exes,” Pioli said.
“I had hoped for a gift this evening for my birthday, but I saw some good things,” added the former ACF Fiorentina coach, who turned 54 on Sunday. “The team deserved a win, but it was our own fault we didn’t.”
Elsewhere, Cagliari defeated SPAL 2-0, Udinese edged Torino 1-0, Parma thrashed Genoa 5-1 and UC Sampdoria were held to a goalless draw by AS Roma.
Additional reporting by staff writer