Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Esposito and Leao play out thrilling virtual Milan derby draw

SoccerNews in Serie A 11 Apr 2020

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Sebastiano Esposito and Rafael Leao could not be separated as their virtual Milan derby finished in an entertaining 2-2 draw.

With the coronavirus pandemic leading to a shutdown of the vast majority of all top-level sport, athletes and fans alike are having to satisfy their cravings in other ways, with video games proving an increasingly popular option.

Playing on the latest edition of Pro Evolution Soccer on DAZN, Inter youngster Esposito took charge of the Nerazzurri and Leao controlled his Milan – each player unsurprisingly putting their computerised selves in the respective teams.

Esposito’s seriousness quickly became apparent, as he clattered the virtual Leao to the ground early on with Stefan de Vrij – leading to the real Leao brandishing an imaginary card.

Leao, controlling himself, put Milan in front just before half-time, slotting under Samir Handanovic after a one-two with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Esposito’s reaction to his counterpart’s shouts and gloating dance to the camera was minimal, as it was when he restored parity just after half-time – Romelu Lukaku netting off the post after being teed up by Lautaro Martinez.

Inter were then in front in the 76th minute. Lukaku cut out a goal-kick and then blocked a subsequent clearance, before charging into the box and returning the favour for Martinez – Esposito’s celebration showing a hint of emotion for the first time.

But he had his head in his hands when Leao secured a share of the spoils, with Ibrahimovic collecting Ismael Bennacer’s defence-splitting pass and coolly sweeping home.

Esposito could not help thinking his strikers might have done more.

He said: “Lautaro and Lukaku are the perfect partnership. The numbers show it – they showed it on PES too.

“I got the most out of them having watched them up close and personal. I thank them for scoring the goals, but they could’ve done even better,” he concluded with a chuckle.

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