Kessie comes to Ata­lanta res­cue against Em­poli

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MI­LAN: Ivo­rian young­ster Franck Kessie hit a sec­ond-half lev­eller and set up a dra­matic last-gasp win­ner as Ata­lanta ended a three­game win­less run in a 2-1 win over Em­poli on Tues­day.

Ata­lanta, who last month were be­ing tipped for a place in next sea­son’s Europa League, left it late to over­come their Tus­can vis­i­tors.

Em­poli fired a warn­ing when Le­van Mchedlidze got on the end of a free-kick six min­utes af­ter the restart to flick the ball past Marco Spor­tiello at the goal­keeper’s far post.

It gave the vis­i­tors hope of claim­ing their first pair of con­sec­u­tive league wins since De­cem­ber 2015, but Kessie, a tow­er­ing striker who is al­ready court­ing in­ter­est from a num­ber of top clubs, was a gamechanger. Af­ter cel­e­brat­ing his 20th birth­day on Mon­day, he re­placed Jas­min Kur­tic at half-time and on 74 min­utes picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area to beat Lukasz Sko­rup­ski with a vi­cious low drive in­side the keeper’s near post.

Ata­lanta fought till the bit­ter end and af­ter Kessie bat­tled to keep pos­ses­sion wide on the left, he whipped in a cross that came off two bod­ies be­fore Marco D’Alessan­dro poked the loose ball into the net for a last-minute win­ner.

Ata­lanta fin­ish 2016 among some pres­ti­gious com­pany, with only AC Mi­lan, Lazio, Napoli, Roma and cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus above them.

Em­poli re­main fourth from bot­tom, five points above the rel­e­ga­tion places. Ju­ven­tus are due to face AC Mi­lan for the Ital­ian Su­per Cup in Doha on Fri­day, mean­ing their re­spec­tive fix­tures have been post­poned un­til Fe­bru­ary.

In­ter Mi­lan host Lazio on Wednesday when a win for the vis­i­tors, fourth at eight points be­hind Juve, could move as high as sec­ond with a win.

City ri­vals Roma, who are with­out de­fender Kostas Manolas and mid­field pair Radja Naing­golan and Daniele De Rossi af­ter the trio suf­fered in­juries in a 1-0 de­feat to Ju­ven­tus on Sun­day, en­ter­tain Chievo with a one lead over the two teams be­low.

Third-placed Napoli travel to Fiorentina to­day on the back of a thrilling 5-3 win over Torino that saw Bel­gian Dries Mertens hit four goals.

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