Parma 1-2 Inter: Sanchez double moves Nerazzurri six points clear

By Sports Desk March 04, 2021

Inter moved six points clear at the Serie A summit as a brace from Alexis Sanchez sealed a 2-1 win away at struggling Parma on Thursday.   

Scudetto rivals Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by Udinese on Wednesday and Antonio Conte's side took full advantage of that slip up to move closer to a first league title since the 2009-10 campaign.   

Sanchez, who scored in the weekend win over Genoa, set Inter on their way to a sixth consecutive top-flight win with his fourth league goal of the campaign nine minutes into the second half.   

The former Manchester United player added another eight minutes later as Inter, who gave the hosts hope of salvaging a draw when Hernani scored 19 minutes from full time, claimed yet another three points to pull away from their neighbours at the top of the table.

Parma carved out the first clear sight of goal in the contest, Samir Handanovic pawing away Jasmin Kurtic's header in the 15th minute.   

A sluggish Inter did not have a shot on target until the 33rd minute when Milan Skriniar's effort inside the six-yard box was well kept out by Luigi Sepe.   

The Parma goalkeeper then thwarted Romelu Lukaku after he had been played in by Marcelo Brozovic, while the Belgium international also headed wide before the interval.   

However, Inter started the second half brightly and went ahead in the 54th minute when Sanchez's strike from eight yards proved too powerful for Sepe, creeping over the line before Riccardo Gagliolo could clear.   

The Chile international claimed his second in the 62nd minute, sliding his finish past an exposed Sepe after a barnstorming run from Lukaku created the opportunity for his team-mate.   

Hernani set up a tense finale with a controlled volley from 10 yards from Giuseppe Pezzella's cross in the 71st minute, yet Inter held on to take another significant step towards the title.

Related items

  • Simmons returns to 76ers practice, will play 'when he's ready' Simmons returns to 76ers practice, will play 'when he's ready'

    Disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons returned to practice for the first time since ending his holdout, but it remains unclear when he might make his NBA season debut. 

    Simmons demanded a trade following last season and remained absent from Philadelphia for the first two weeks of preseason work before showing up on October 11 to begin fulfilling COVID-19 protocols that would allow him to re-join the championship-chasing franchise.

    The 76ers open their 2021-22 campaign at the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday but head coach Doc Rivers said he does not know whether All-Star Simmons will be available. 

    "I'm going to wait and see," Rivers told reporters. "Conditioning I would say, just watching him, I thought he was in decent shape. Still not, obviously, game shape."

    The 76ers will play their home opener against Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, and the Australian guard – scrutinised after the team's shock Eastern Conference semi-final loss to the Atlanta Hawks – figures to get an unfriendly welcome from the Philadelphia crowd whether he plays or not. 

    Perhaps with that dynamic in mind, Rivers was asked whether he had thought about whether to give Simmons his season debut at home or on the road, but he demurred. 

    "No – right now I'm just trying to get him back comfortable and integrated. I'm not even thinking about that," Rivers said. "That'll come at some point but there's no game plan there, I can tell you that. When he's ready, he'll play."

    Simmons did not speak to reporters Sunday but team officials indicated he would later this week. 

    The number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1. rebounds and 7.7 assists in four seasons with Philadelphia and has been named to the All-Star Game the last three years. 

    But the 25-year-old's struggles in the playoffs and a contract that will pay him $33million this season with three years and $114m remaining on his deal after that have made it difficult for the 76ers to find a trade partner. 

    Getting Simmons back on the court could help in that endeavour, though it appears he may have to work to do to smooth things over with his team-mates. 

    While guard Furkan Korkmaz told reporters he had missed Simmons and "personally I'm happy to see him back here on the court," forward Tobias Harris declined to get into specifics about an awkward reunion but added that it would not matter once games begin.

    "The vibe was what it was," Harris said. "Was it perfect? No. But we're here to do a job, and that's to win basketball games. We put on our big boy pants and get on the floor and do what we do."

    Simmons – an elite defender – and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers.

    Former number one draft pick Simmons had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star, according to Stats Perform.

    Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It was the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career-worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

    Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

  • Suns' Bridges agrees four-year, $90m contract extension Suns' Bridges agrees four-year, $90m contract extension

    Mikal Bridges has agreed a four-year, $90million rookie contract extension with the Phoenix Suns following their run to last season's NBA Finals.

    Bridges established himself among the most versatile and young two-way players in the league after averaging career highs in points (13.5), rebounds (4.3) and assists (2.1) during the Suns' remarkable run to the Finals.

    As the Suns – who lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the showpiece – prepare for Wednesday's season opener against Western Conference rivals the Denver Nuggets, they have locked their talented guard/forward to a new deal.

    Confirmed by agents Sam Goldfeder and Jordan Gertler to ESPN on Sunday ahead of Monday's deadline for the 2018 draft class, the contract is fully guaranteed and will come into effect in 2022-23.

    "Wherever he has gone, he has won," Goldfeder said "It's no accident. He is the player who buys into a culture as well as sets a culture."

    "Mikal has worked tirelessly to bring winning basketball back to the Phoenix Suns," Gertler added. "This is the culmination of his hard work."

    Bridges was drafted out of Villanova in 2018 – the 25-year-old initially selected by hometown team the Philadelphia 76ers with the 10th pick before he was later traded to the Suns in exchange for 16th pick Zhaire Smith.

    As well as career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals, Bridges also finished 2020-21 with a career-best 54.3 field-goal percentage, while shooting a career-high 42.5 from three-point range.

    In the playoffs, Bridges averaged 11.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game for the Suns – who finished second in the Western Conference before eliminating the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers prior to their 4-2 Finals defeat at the hands of the Bucks.

  • Fati's quality is undeniable: Koeman revels in teenager lighting up Camp Nou Fati's quality is undeniable: Koeman revels in teenager lighting up Camp Nou

    Ronald Koeman says Ansu Fati's "quality is undeniable" after his stellar performance in Barcelona's 3-1 LaLiga win over Valencia at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

    Fati, whose return from a long-term knee injury had been limited to substitute appearances before the international break, marked his first start since November 7 with a superb equaliser after Jose Gaya had given Los Che an early lead. 

    Teenager Fati then won the penalty that saw Memphis Depay put Barca ahead before the break, while Philippe Coutinho added a late third to ease the pressure on Koeman after back-to-back defeats in the Champions League and LaLiga before the international break. 

    Fati, who recently inherited Lionel Messi's iconic number 10 shirt, was withdrawn in the 59th minute, with Koeman insisting it is important his reintegration into the first team is not rushed. 

    "He has to improve physically little by little, but his quality is undeniable," the Dutchman told Movistar. "Today he has already played an hour and he has more and more competition rhythm. Hopefully he can play many more years at this club.

    "We have a plan with him. Today he played from the beginning for the first time. Little by little he will be better and it will be more important; he is a different player from the rest."

    Sergio Aguero, who joined on a free transfer in the off-season after leaving Premier League champions Manchester City, was introduced from the substitutes' bench late on for his debut, and Koeman said they will be taking a similarly cautious approach with the Argentina international. 

    "It is important for the team to recover the injured attackers," he added. "Ansu and Aguero are different players, with special qualities. Aguero also has experience. I hope he follows a path similar to Ansu's. It is not a question of quality, but of being in good physical condition."

    Coutinho's late third was his first goal since November 29 last year, and the Brazil international opened up on a difficult period in this career.

    "It was a cry of rage [his celebration] because I needed to score to gain confidence," he explained. "No one else knows how much I have suffered. I have the same desire or even more with everything I've been through. It is a scar that makes me stronger. 

    "I have more desire to succeed and be the best Coutinho. We know that the situation is not the way we want it, but we are the only ones capable of lifting it. The team is involved and today we have shown it against Valencia. We have given 100 per cent, but if we have to give 150 per cent, we will give it."

    Barca host Dynamo Kiev in Champions League Group E on Wednesday before a mouth-watering Clasico against Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.