Inter Milan go four points clear in Serie A after Romelu Lukaku inspiration - European round-up

AC Milan beat Roma to close the gap to four points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan; Jose Fonte snatches late draw for Ligue 1 leaders Lille, who maintain two-point lead; La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid beat Villarreal ahead of Madrid derby

Romelu Lukaku had a hand in all three of Inter Milan's goals on Sunday
Image: Romelu Lukaku had a hand in all three of Inter Milan's goals on Sunday

Inter Milan are four points clear at the top of Serie A as Romelu Lukaku scored after 32 seconds and got an assist in a 3-0 win over mid-table Genoa.

The Belgian striker drove through the heart of the visiting defence and fired in his 18th league goal of the season to register his club's second-fastest Serie A strike since Opta started taking records in 2004.

Lukaku teed up Matteo Darmian for Inter's second after 69 minutes and was again involved for their third, when his shot was saved but headed in on the rebound by substitute Alexis Sanchez.

Lukaku powered through to score inside the opening minute and the hosts never looked like relinquishing their lead.

Nicolo Barella's curling strike hit the bar and Lukaku had a powerful effort saved by Mattia Perin, before Darmian broke Genoa's resistance with a drilled effort.

Sanchez's header wrapped up the points moments after the Chilean came on, but he had to wait for VAR to overturn an incorrect offside call.

Romelu Lukaku set Matteo Darmian up for his goal later in the game
Image: Romelu Lukaku set Matteo Darmian up for his goal later in the game

Perin was to thank for keeping the score down as he denied Danilo D'Ambrosio and Sanchez with superb diving saves late on.

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AC Milan returned to form with an enthralling 2-1 victory away to AS Roma on that a restored a four-point gap to Serie A leaders Inter.

The visitors hit the bar and had two goals disallowed before Franck Kessie scored from the penalty spot to give them a deserved half-time lead.

Roma, who also had a goal chalked off in the first half, quickly responded after the break when midfielder Jordan Veretout curled in his 10th league goal of the season.

But a superb turn and finish from Ante Rebic put the visitors back in front after 58 minutes and they held on despite late pressure from the hosts.

Franck Kessie celebrates his goal against Roma
Image: Franck Kessie celebrates his goal against Roma

The victory ends a four-match winless run in all competitions for Stefano Pioli's side, whose hopes of a first Serie A title in 10 years suffered a blow following back-to-back league defeats to Spezia and Inter.

Milan remain second on 52 points, four behind Inter and six ahead of Juventus in third, while Roma stay fifth with 44 points.

Goals from Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano proved enough for Napoli to overcome struggling Benevento 2-0 despite the late dismissal of Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Belgian striker quickly made an impact on his return from injury, guiding a deflected shot in from close range after 34 minutes. Politano bundled in a second after the break to seal a much-needed win. Koulibaly was sent off for a second yellow card on the 81st minute after a clumsy challenge.

Dries Mertens celebrates his goal for Napoli
Image: Dries Mertens celebrates his goal for Napoli

Earlier, Atalanta moved into fourth place and drew level with Juve on 46 points after a 2-0 win at Sampdoria, thanks to goals from Ruslan Malinovskyi and Robin Gosens.

New Cagliari coach Leonardo Semplici enjoyed a debut to remember as he oversaw a 2-0 win away to bottom side Crotone to end a 16-match winless league run stretching back to November 7. A Leonardo Pavoletti header and Joao Pedro penalty earned the victory, leaving the Sardinian side 18th with 18 points, two adrift of safety.

A late Ilija Nestorovski header also gave Udinese a 1-0 win over Fiorentina.

La Liga - Atleti win to maintain lead

Stefan Savic celebrates after his strike was turned home against Villarreal
Image: Stefan Savic celebrates after his strike was turned home against Villarreal

La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid secured a vital 2-0 win away to Villarreal on to reaffirm their title ambitions following a difficult run of results.

Diego Simeone's side were smarting from twin defeats to Levante and Chelsea but went ahead in the 25th minute courtesy of an Alfonso Pedraza own goal following a goalmouth scramble, the strike being flagged offside then given after a VAR review.

Atletico survived another video review just before half-time when Thomas Lemar was shown a yellow card rather than a red for elbowing an opponent before record signing Joao Felix came off the bench to double their lead in the 69th on the volley.

A first win in four games in all competitions moved Atletico on to 58 points after 24 games, five clear of second-placed Barcelona, who have played 25 games, and six above third-placed Real Madrid.

Joao Felix scored Atletico Madrid's second goal
Image: Joao Felix scored Atletico Madrid's second goal

Real play at home to Real Sociedad on Monday before visiting Atletico next Sunday in a crucial game in the title race.

Cadiz failed to build on last week's draw at Barcelona as they fell to a late Juanmi goal at home to Real Betis, extending their winless league run to eight games.

Jeison Murillo scored deep into injury time to salvage a 1-1 draw for Celta Vigo at home to Real Valladolid, who had led through a Fabian Orellana strike.

Elche dropped deeper into relegation trouble as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Granada, for whom Antonio Puertas scored a 79th-minute winner.

Ligue 1 - Monaco stretch unbeaten run, Lille held

Jose Fonte celebrates his late equaliser for Lille
Image: Jose Fonte celebrates his late equaliser for Lille

Captain Jose Fonte salvaged a point for Ligue 1 leaders Lille but they had to be content with a 1-1 draw at home to Strasbourg.

Ludovic Ajorque put the visitors in front in the 36th minute but Fonte's 86th-minute leveller ensured his side will end the weekend with a two-point advantage at the top.

Third-placed Lyon failed to make up ground as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Marseille.

Karl Toko Ekambi struck Lyon in front but Arkadiusz Milik levelled from the penalty spot and Lyon's cause was not helped by the 70th-minute sending-off of Lucas Paqueta for a second yellow card.

Stefan Jovetic and Kevin Volland hit late goals as fourth-place Monaco beat Brest 2-0 to stretch their unbeaten league run to 12 games and stay in the title chase.

Brest goalkeeper Gautier Larsonneur justified his recall by saving Wissam Ben Yedder's first-half penalty - Monaco's first miss this season - and making a great save to stop defender Guillermo Maripan's powerful header from a corner in the 74th minute.

But he was beaten one minute later when Jovetic advanced to the edge of the penalty area and let fly with a powerful shot into the bottom right corner.

Volland showed good timing to clip midfielder Aleksandr Golovin's low freekick over Larsonneur and inside the right post in the 89th minute.

Elsewhere, Lorient were 2-1 winners at St Etienne, while Angers drew 2-2 at home to Lens. Nimes and Nantes drew 1-1 while Reims and Montpellier played out a goalless draw.

Bundesliga - Leverkusen beaten by Freiburg

Bayer Leverkusen capped a poor week with defeat in the Bundesliga
Image: Bayer Leverkusen capped a poor week with defeat in the Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen slumped to a 2-1 home loss to Freiburg to drift further away from a top-four finish and cap a dismal week following their Europa League exit.

Leverkusen, eliminated from the Europa League in midweek after a second defeat to Young Boys, had the lion's share of possession with close to 70 pre cent but failed to make that advantage count.

Freiburg stunned the hosts on the break in the 50th minute with Ermedin Demirovic slotting in from a Lucas Hoeler cutback.

Hoeler then tapped in their second goal in the 61st before Leon Bailey's thundering shot from the left in the 70th set up a tense finale where Leverkusen pushed for an equaliser but failed to score.

Andre Hahn's 25th-minute goal gave a boost to Augsburg's survival prospects as they won 1-0 at Mainz, while Union Berlin and Hoffenheim shared the points from a 1-1 draw.

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