Milan's Daniel Maldini celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's first goal during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Spezia and Milan, at the Alberto Picco stadium in La Spezia, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. AP
Inter Milan missed the chance to go top of Serie A on Saturday after a thrilling 2-2 draw with Atalanta which allowed city rivals AC Milan to hold onto first place with their 2-1 win at Spezia in which Daniel Maldini continued a family dynasty.
Champions Inter sit third, two points behind leaders Milan, after a breathless match at the San Siro which ended with Federico Dimarco missing an 86th minute penalty and Roberto Piccoli then having a last-gasp winner for Atalanta ruled out amid frantic protests from the away side.
Atalanta are fifth following the draw which highlighted the attacking threat and the clear intention from Gian Piero Gasperini's side to continue to punch above their weight in Italy's top flight.
Lautaro Martinez put Inter ahead in the fifth minute with a superb first-time finish from the excellent Nicolo Barella's cross.
However, Atalanta stunned the home fans thanks to a Ruslan Malinovskyi missile on the half hour and Rafael Toloi's rebound effort eight minutes later.
Atalanta dominated for long periods after levelling and could have added three more early in the second half.
Malinovskyi hit the post and had a close range effort saved while Jose Luis Palomino should have done better with his close range header from a corner.
However Simone Inzaghi's Inter reacted and could have easily been out of sight before academy graduate Dimarco thwacked the crossbar with his spot-kick.
Juan Musso pulled off some spectacular saves with the best coming when he somehow kept out Matias Vecino's 59th minute header and then pushed away Barella's cross-cum-shot three minutes later, with Martinez then heading the rebound wide.
Edin Dzeko levelled the scores in the 71st minute when Musso pushed Dimarco's low shot out to the waiting Bosnia forward to tap home.
However the real drama came in the final 10 minutes, with Inter fans preparing themselves for a huge win as Dimarco lined up for his penalty, given after Merih Demiral handled as Dzeko lined up a header.
Their disappointment turned to despondency when Piccoli's weak shot squirmed under Samir Handanovic's hand, only for the whole ground to break out into a huge roar when the goal was chalked off for the ball crossing the byline in the build up.
- Maldini magic -
Stefano Pioli's Milan came through against a battling Spezia thanks to Brahim Diaz's close-range strike with four minutes remaining, but Maldini stole the show with his first Milan goal on his full Serie A debut.
Over 12 years since his father and club legend Paolo last played for the seven-time European champions, Maldini junior headed Milan into the lead at Spezia two minutes after half-time.
Former Italy defender Paolo, who won almost every honour in the game during his 25 years as a Milan player and is now the club's technical director, celebrated in the stands as his son was surrounded by teammates following the powerful header from Pierre Kalulu's cross.
"I'm pretty calm even though it's been emotional. My teammates help me loads, the coach gives me advice... Thankfully we came through the match which was very hard," Maldini added.
Defeat was harsh on Spezia, who deserved more than zero points from positive performances in their last two matches against Juventus and Milan.
The 19-year-old Maldini's grandfather Cesare Maldini, also a defender, won four league titles and the 1963 European Cup for the Rossoneri, scoring three times for the club.
Paolo Maldini played more than 900 times for Milan, scoring 33 times and winning seven league titles and five European Cups/Champions Leagues.
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