Ivan Perisic fired unbeaten Inter Milan top of Serie A on Sunday with a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Chievo after Gennaro Gattuso’s reign at city rivals AC Milan began with giving lowly Benevento their first ever Serie A point.
Croatian Perisic opened the San Siro goal blitz after 23 minutes and added two more in the second half, while Inter captain Mauro Icardi made it 16 for the season seven minutes before the break and defender Milan Skriniar finding the net on the hour mark.
Luciano Spalletti’s Inter are now the league’s only unbeaten team after 15 games, after Napoli lost 1-0 at home to champions Juventus on Friday.
Inter have 39 points and are alone at the top of Serie A for the first time since January 2016, one point ahead of Napoli and two ahead of Juventus, who are chasing their seventh straight league title and host Inter on Saturday.
“It’s not important who scores the goals, only the team counts, we’ve waited a long time for first place, now we have to stay, we’re going to Turin to win against Juve,” said Perisic ahead of next weekend’s clash.
Despite the absence of key players Roberto Gagliardini, Matias Vecino and Joao Miranda Inter proved deadly efficient against Chievo.
Icardi moved top of the goalscoring charts but it was Perisic who stole the show on a night where there were double celebrations for Inter fans as AC Milan let points slip against rock-bottom Benevento.
Goalkeeper turned goal scorer
Goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli snatched newcomers Benevento’s first ever Serie A point deep in stoppage time to spoil Gattuso’s debut and spark wild celebrations for the hosts and their fans.
With the home side a goal down after 90 minutes and pushing ten-man Milan back in search of an equaliser, Brignoli headed home Danilo Cataldi’s free-kick five minutes into injury time to end the southern side’s record losing run.
Benevento had surpassed Manchester United’s 12-game losing start, a record established 87 years ago, on November 19, and were stuck on zero points after 14 games coming into the match with Milan.
“Someone from the bench told me to go up, there was nothing to lose, I went to jump and I closed my eyes,” said Brignoli.
“It’s a very strong, indescribable feeling,” continued the 26-year-old, who joined promoted Benevento on loan this season from Juventus.
“I dedicate the goal to all the people who are living a dream that they hoped would be better.
“We have lost so many games undeservedly at the end, even with Juventus, for once after three months of sacrifice by everyone it is nice to be able to celebrate.”
Giacomo Bonaventura had opened for Milan after 38 minutes at the Stadio Vigorito, before George Puscas pulled Benevento level five minutes after the break.
Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic got Milan back in front seven minutes later only for Alessio Romagnoli to be sent off for a second bookable offence leaving the visitors a man down for the final 15 minutes.
But in the final seconds of the game as Benevento looked set for their 15th straight defeat Brignoli jumped highest after a desperate last free kick to scenes of euphoria among the home crowd.
Former Milan midfielder Gattuso had taken over midweek after predecessor Vincenzo Montella was sacked as the former European giants sit eighth on 21 points, way below the Champions League ambitions of their new Chinese owners.
“We have to improve our form and mentality but I’ve nothing to hold against the players,” said Gattuso.”They gave everything when down to ten. We conceded a goal that hurt.
“We lost the ball too many times playing out of defence. Trying to do something new is good, but we knew that despite the defeats, Benevento have been performing much better lately.”