Milan chief backs under-fire Montella

Milan overhauled its squad in the close season, spending 230 million euros (US$270 million) on new signings following the takeover of the club by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong.

Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi (right) scores against AC Milan during their Italian Serie A derby at the San Siro Stadium in Milan on October 15, 2017. Inter won 3-2, with the Argentina forward scoring a hat-trick.

AC Milan chief Marco Fassone has backed under-fire coach Vincenzo Montella despite the club falling to a third straight Serie A defeat to fierce city rival Inter on Sunday night.

"Vincenzo is staying with us. When you change this much, as we did, you need time," said Fassone.

Milan overhauled its squad in the close season, spending 230 million euros (US$270 million) on new signings following the takeover of the club by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong.

He already paid 740 million euros to buy the club last April.

But despite the heavy investment, Milan has failed to find its rhythm on the pitch yet, with Montella's side dropping three places to tenth after its latest defeat — 12 points behind leader Napoli and ten adrift of second-placed Inter.

"AC Milan should not be in that position and we have to climb back," insisted Fassone, appointed managing director after Li's Rossoneri Sport Investment bought the club from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"We are starting to see the first positive signs, but Montella will still have time to continue his work," continued Fassone.

"Things will change eventually."

Mauro Icardi converted a late penalty to complete a hat-trick that gave Inter a 3-2 win in front of a capacity crowd of 80,000 at the San Siro.

The gate receipts for Sunday's derby clash hit a new Italian football record of 4.8 million euros — over a million euros more than the previous record set when Inter met Juventus in October 2015.

"Derbies are always incredible matches, this time we made a mistake at the end and we have to see their fans celebrate," said Fassone.

"I am sure the next derby will be a good one for our supporters.

"The second half was played brilliantly, it looked like a completely different game. We have to start from here, from this performance in the second half."

Next weekend, Inter visits Napoli.

Room for improvement

While there's still plenty of room for improvement, Inter is already far ahead of where it was at this point last season when it appeared lost under Frank de Boer.

Including Roberto Mancini's surprise resignation two weeks before the season began, Inter struggled through four managerial changes in 2016-17 and finished seventh to miss out on European competition.

But order appears to have been restored with the appointment of former AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti in June.

Elsewhere, Sampdoria came back from a goal down to beat visiting Atalanta 3-1 and move into sixth place.

Duvan Zapata, Gianluca Caprari and Karol Linetty scored second-half goals for Samp, which has lost once in seven matches and has a game in hand.

Atalanta, which held Juventus to a 2-2 draw before the international break, had taken an early lead with a header from Bryan Cristante.

Bologna remained level on points with Samp after a 2-1 win over promoted Spal in a regional derby that hadn't been contested in the top division in nearly a half century.

Rodrigo Palacio was involved in both of Bologna's goals, first setting up Andrea Poli then causing an own-goal from Bartosz Salamon before Spal pulled one back.

Torino is one point further back in eighth after Lorenzo De Silvestri scored an injury-time equalizer for a 2-2 draw at Crotone.

Also, Fiorentina beat Udinese 2-1 with a brace from former Udinese forward Cyril Thereau; Sassuolo and Chievo Verona drew 0-0; and Genoa beat Cagliari 3-2.

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