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Inter and Milan draw ahead of potential title-deciding derby

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MILAN, April 15: Inter Milan will need to win the derby against AC Milan in the next round to secure the Serie A title with five games to spare after both teams drew their games.
Milan fought back from 3-1 down but could only draw 3-3 at relegation-threatened Sassuolo in an early match on Sunday. That meant that if Inter had beaten struggling Cagliari at home, a draw would have then sufficed at Milan on April 22 to win a 20th league title and earn a second star on the team shirts.
However, Inter was held to a 2-2 draw by Cagliari.
A star is awarded for every 10 Serie A titles. Milan, like Inter, has won the Italian league 19 times.
Roma’s match at Udinese was suspended with about 19 minutes remaining after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed.
At Sassuolo, Milan got off to the worst possible start as it found itself 2-0 down inside 10 minutes following goals from Andrea Pinamonti and Armand Laurienté.
Samuel Chukwueze thought he had pulled one back for Milan in the 17th minute but it was ruled out for a tight offside decision as a portion of his shoulder was caught out.
Milan did get back into the match three minutes later in stunning fashion. Rafael Leão cut inside the left of the area and beat two defenders before firing between the legs of another and into the far bottom corner.
Laurienté doubled his tally and restored Sassuolo’s two-goal lead early in the second half when he was left unmarked and had the time and space to control a cross and drive it past stand-in Milan goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.
Luka Jovic reduced the deficit in the 59th and Chukwueze thought he had equalized four minutes later but it was again ruled out for offside.
Milan did level six minutes from time. A corner was nodded on by Olivier Giroud and the ball was then chested towards Noah Okafor, who slotted home from point-blank range with one of his first touches after coming on as a substitute.
Sassuolo, which is second-to-last in the standings, inched to within a point of safety.
SUSPENDED LAUTARO
Inter was without the suspended Lautaro Martínez but nevertheless seemed on course for an important win before Nicolas Viola’s late equalizer for Cagliari, shortly after coming off the bench.
Cagliari forward Eldor Shomurodov had canceled out Marcus Thuram’s opener for Inter but Hakan Çalhanoglu restored the Nerazzurri’s lead from the spot in the 74th after handball by visiting defender Yerry Mina.
SPALLETTI’S RETURNS
Walid Cheddira scored two goals against his parent club to help relegation-threatened Frosinone draw 2-2 against Napoli.
Napoli twice took the lead through Matteo Politano and Victor Osimhen but Cheddira hauled Napoli level on both occasions.
Cheddira was signed by Napoli in August but immediately sent on loan to Frosinone.
The 26-year-old Morocco forward also won a penalty in the first half but Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret saved Matías Soulé’s tame effort.
Napoli defender Mário Rui was sent off for a second yellow card in stoppage time.
Italy coach Luciano Spalletti, who led Napoli to its first league title in more than three decades last season, was watching from the stands and he appeared to be fighting back tears as the home fans chanted his name after he was shown on the stadium’s giant screens.
Napoli is on its third coach since Spalletti left at the end of last season and is eighth in Serie A.Frosinone moved level with 17th-place Hellas Verona. (PTI)

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