ROME: AC Milan battled back from being two goals behind at half-time to snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw against title rivals Lazio in a breathtaking Serie A encounter at the San Siro on Sunday.
Yugoslav Dejan Stankovic’s close-range effort and a controversial Claudio Lopez penalty gave Lazio a comfortable interval lead.
But two goals in eight second-half minutes from Filippo Inzaghi and Rivaldo rescued a deserved point for Milan and maintained their unbeaten home record.
Lazio’s goal came under siege after Milan had levelled the scores, and only poor finishing and brave defending from the visitors prevented Milan from taking all three points.
A draw for Milan leaves them on 43 points, two less than joint league leaders Inter Milan and Juventus, while Lazio remain in fourth, six points off the lead. Inter’s title charge was stalled by a 2-1 defeat at fifth-placed Chievo on Saturday.
Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko said Milan proved they have the stomach for a championship fight with a superb second-half display.
“The team showed great character and in the end we were unlucky not to win,” he said. “We played an incredible second-half and in my opinion deserved victory.”
Milan enjoyed the lion’s share of the posession in the early exchanges, but were caught out by a swift Lazio counter-attack in the 21st minute.
A lightning move saw the ball worked out to the right wing for Bernardo Corradi whose cross was diverted by Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo into the path of Lopez.
The Argentine’s close-range shot was blocked by Milan goalkeeper Dida, but Stankovic pounced on the rebound and rifled the ball high into the net.
Controversy surrounded Lazio’s second goal nine minutes later.
Former Lazio defender Alessandro Nesta tussled with Corradi in the box in what appeared to be a fair challenge, but World Cup final referee Pierluigi Collina surprisingly pointed to the spot.
Television replays showed Nesta had made minimal contact with the Italy international.
Lopez stepped up and rammed the ball straight down the middle and past Dida who dived the wrong way.
Milan started the second-half like a train and it was no surprise when they halved the deficit in the 62nd minute. A hopeful chip into the box was missed by Rivaldo’s head but fell nicely for Inzaghi, who clipped the ball over the advancing Angelo Perruzzi from six yards.
Inzaghi then turned eight minutes later, storming down the left wing like a winger before crossing for Rivaldo to side-foot home.
Earlier on Sunday, Juventus showed their determination to retain their championship crown by winning 2-1 at Parma.
First-half headers from Italy internationals Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Tacchinardi gave Juventus a two-goal half-time lead, before Parma striker Adrian Mutu scored a late consolation for the 1999 UEFA Cup winners. – AFP