Rafael Leão is one of the in-form players in Italian football, after adding to his recent string of impressive showings with another superb goal in AC Milan’s 3-2 win at Atalanta in Sunday night’s big Serie A clash.
Earlier in the day another young Portuguese striker hit the net, with Beto opening his account for new club Udinese in a 3-3 draw at Sampdoria. Elsewhere, José Mourinho’s Roma got back to winning ways with victory over Empoli and remain in a top four position.
Former Sporting forward Leão put Milan 3-0 up in the 78th minute on their trip to Atalanta, but his brilliant finish into the top corner from just inside the box proved the winner following a late fightback from the hosts. Atalanta scored twice in the closing stages to see the game end 3-2 in favour of Leão’s Rossoneri, meaning his goal was just the latest example of the Portuguese affecting big matches for his side.
In the last month, Leão has scored against Lazio and Atletico Madrid, as well as playing a pivotal role in Milan’s goals against Liverpool at Anfield. Having now snatched what was effectively the winner in Lombardy, the 21-year-old is showing a growing consistency in performing against the toughest opposition.
Leao’s recent form was not enough to earn him a spot in Fernando Santos’ most recent Portugal squad, but a return of 4 goals from 7 appearances this season puts the youngster well on track to have his best season since moving to Italy from Lille in 2019. Leão scored 6 goals in his first season at San Siro and 7 last term, so an improvement in strike-rate is a promising indicator of more to come from the Almada native.
Beto off the mark for Udinese
Lisbon-born striker Beto scored his first goal in the colours of Udinese during their six-goal thriller against Sampdoria. The teams shared the points in a 3-3 draw which saw Udinese twice lead before falling 3-2 behind, leaving Fernando Forestieri to snatch a point with an 82nd-minute equaliser at the Luigi Ferraris stadium.
The former Portimonense forward was on-hand to score from close range after the ball came back off the post following a corner. Beto’s goal put Udinese 2-1 up on an afternoon which saw him come up against fellow Portuguese Adrien Silva, who played 73 minutes in the Sampdoria midfield before being replaced.
Beto received praise in the media after the match, not only for his goal but for his physicality and ability to retain possession. The 23-year-old scored 11 goals in the Primeira Liga last season, leading Udinese to secure Beto’s signature on a loan deal with obligation to buy, which will cost the club a reported €10m.
Roma back to winning ways
Roma recovered from their derby defeat to Lazio last weekend with a 2-0 win over Empoli in the capital. José Mourinho’s side scored either side of half time through Lorenzo Pellegrini (42’) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (48’) to stay in the top four, albeit six points off Napoli who have made a 100% start after seven rounds.
Mourinho has been emphasising that his side still lacks a little experience in the ranks but told DAZN after the match: “We played well, solid and compact. We were in control against a team that plays good football and 15 points from seven rounds is a good tally.”
There was also a humorous exchange between Mourinho and Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti, with the Portuguese joking that his contemporary cannot continue winning. “In my opinion, you must lose your next away match,” Mourinho said as the pair appeared together on Italian television on Sunday.
You don’t see this in England. Mourinho greeting Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti and joking “in my opinion you have to lose the next away game!” Napoli are 100% after seven matches. pic.twitter.com/NUK5Iqhmro— Sean Gillen (@SeanGillen9) October 4, 2021
By Sean Gillen