x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Mourinho loses his cool again

Another red mist fell over Jose Mourinho as Internazionale maintained their progress towards the Serie A title on Sunday night.


Another red mist fell over Jose Mourinho as Internazionale maintained their progress towards the Serie A title on Sunday night. Seven points clear again, they answered wins by the nearest pursuers, Juventus and Milan, by beating Fiorentina 2-0 at the San Siro. They were secure in the three points only in injury time, however, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck his second goal of the evening direct from a free-kick.

It was Ibrahimovic's 17th goal of the league season, though he celebrated it more with a look of rage than delight. The kick itself had been thumped home with venom, cracking against the crossbar of Sebastian Frey's goal to land behind the goal-line. Frey had earlier expressed indignation at the first goal, when the Swedish striker headed home as the goalkeeper advanced to try to retrieve a Mario Balotelli free-kick. Frey thought Ibrahimovic had raised his foot dangerously high during the lead-up to Inter's 11th minute lead.

The sour mood never really retreated from there, perhaps carried over from the Italian title-holders' Champions League defeat in Manchester four days earlier. Inter were seldom inspired, their head coach agitated and Mourinho received a red card for demanding action against the Fiorentina midfielder Felipe Melo late in the game. It was not Mourinho's first such dismissal of the season, nor an uncommon confrontation with match officials. Mourinho then delegated his assistant Beppe Baresi to answer questions from the press afterwards.

This was not a unique event either, and consistent with his self-regarding replies to allegations that he had struck a Manchester United fan on leaving Old Trafford: "Mourinho sells," he said in reference to the public appetite for stories created around the Portuguese polemicist. Milan, Inter's rivals, won 5-1 at Siena, Filippo Inzaghi continuing his good form with two goals, the first from a David Beckham corner.

Andrea Pirlo gave Milan an early lead from the penalty spot and Alexandre Pato also scored twice, one of them a startling shot from distance. The bad news for Carlo Ancelotti, the Milan coach, is that Kaka's comeback from a foot injury lasted less than half an hour. And keeper Christian Abbiati could be sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Two Julio Baptista goals gave Roma a 2-2 draw at Sampdoria, while Ezequiel Lavezzi's equaliser earned new Napoli head coach Roberto Donadoni a point on his first afternoon in charge, 1-1 away at rock-bottom Reggina.

Chievo, apparently doomed to relegation at New Year, are now sensing survival after Sunday's 3-0 triumph at Lazio. ihawkey@thenational.ae