Arturo Vidal (left) is up to 20 all-competition goals this season after Wednesday's hat trick in UEFA Champions League. (Photo: Getty Images.)

Shipped from abroad, Italy: For Juventus, this undefeated thing is really happening

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Because most of the season featured Juventus’s case as the least impressive undefeated team in history, most expected the Old Lady to be dealt a loss by this point. On Sunday, however, Juve not only transcended their final remaining top-half hurdle, they did so with style.

Arturo Vidal, one of Europe’s most astute summer acquisitions, had the Old Lady up two within eight minutes on rival Roma. When Maarten Stekelenburg saw red (and Andrea Pirlo put home the rebound of the ensuing penalty kick), Juventus had guaranteed three points after less than a half hour’s work. A goal just after halftime from Claudio Marchisio (who drew the foul on Stekelenburg) gave Juventus a 4-0 victory, their biggest home win of the season.

After a February-March run that saw Juventus draw five of six (and give up the league lead), Juve’s won five in a row, outscoring their opponents 13-1. They’re now up three points in holders Milan, the 10-man Rossoneri needing a 90th minute goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to salvage a draw from visiting Bologna. The results were enough to have Milan coach Max Allegri conceding Juventus are now favorites.

Sitting three points clear, the Old Lady need only navigate a field of minnows to claim both a title and an undefeated season. The highest ranked team left on their schedule is 14th-placed Atalanta. The rest of their opponents: 16th, 18th, 19th, and 20th.

The odds of getting through May 13th are finally starting to turn in their failure. If you give them a 90 percent chance of at least drawing each remaining match, they’re likely to make it through their finale without a loss (56 percent probability). Any lower than that, however, and Juventus are still running uphill.

Elsewhere in Italy

All results

Parma 3-0 Cagliari
Chievo 0-0 Udinese
Catania 2-0 Atalanta
Napoli 2-0 Novara
Fiorentina 0-0 Internazionale
Milan 1-1 Bologna
Lazio 1-1 Lecce
Cesena 2-2 Palermo
Genoa 1-4 Siena
Juventus 4-0 Roma


Champions League: Juventus (71 pts/33 gp), Milan (68/33), Lazio (55/33)

Europa League: Udinese (52/33), Napoli (51/33), Roma (50/33)

Stuff that stuck out:

  • Erik Lamela will miss three games after spitting in the face of Juventus defender Stephan Lichtsteiner on Sunday. The 20-year-old Argentine, bought from River Plate last summer, has three goals in 27 appearances during a contentious first season in Italy.
  • For most, Genoa stole the headlines from Juventus on Sunday. Now sitting just above the drop, Genoa were dealt an embarrassing home loss, one which saw ultras jump on to the pitch and delay the match by half and hour as they demanded their players give up their shirts. Select fans have since received five match bans, Genoa will play their last two home games behind closed doors, and the club has fired coach Alberto Malesani (for the second time this year).
  • Amid rumors that Italy national team coach Cesare Prandelli will join them this summer, Inter Milan has continued their matriculation toward Europe. While Sunday’s draw at Fiorentina could be seen as a missed opportunity, the Nerazzurri have pulled within one point of a European spot (provided Napoli stays in the top five). Even more reason for hope: Inter kept their first clean sheet under interim boss Andrea Stramaccioni.
  • Napoli’s win over Novara snapped their three-game losing streak, a span which (according to star striker Edinson Cavani) had the club on the edge of crisis. Now the team that impressed so many in this year’s Champions League is only four points back of Serie A’s last UCL spot.
  • The Cavani rumors, however, ignited last week when the Uruguayan refused to confirm he’d be with the club next season. Saying such things are club business, Cavani did little to quell rumors that he could move on this summer. One of the world’s best at his position, his sale would represent a huge payday for Napoli. Just a hunch, but Pep Guardiola could see him as a missing element for a Barça side in need of options.

Up next: Mid-week action starts on Tuesday with two games, the match of the round seeing Inter Milan visit Udinese for what both sides could see as a must-win.

Extra: Here’s video of the pitch invasion at the Luigi Ferraris. Nothing to see here. Genoa players approached the whole affair with the detached resignation of a team that could be beat at home 4-1 by a mid-table side.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC (video)

Seattle Sounders defender Brad Evans celebrates after Sounders' Nelson Haedo Valdez scored a goal against Sporting Kansas City in the second half of an MLS soccer playoff match, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Seattle. The Sounders beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The game in 100 words (or less): There’s a ton to unpack here, so we’ll dive right in. The Seattle Sounders topped Sporting Kansas City in the final knockout-round game of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Nelson Valdez scored the game’s only goal, an 88th-minute header, but not without supreme controversy. For starters, Valdez was offside as Joevin Jones played the ball into the box, just as Matt Besler was on a free kick for Sporting earlier in the second half. Besler’s goal was ruled out for offside, Valdez’s was allowed to stand. Benny Feilhaber, perhaps in his final game for Sporting, played like a man possessed and so nearly singlehandedly won the game for Sporting at multiple points on the night. Stefan Frei stood on his head and refused to allow such an occurrence. Osvaldo Alonso could have been sent off twice on the night — once on a straight red; once on a second yellow — but finished the game with just a single caution. Up next, the Sounders will take on Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

10′ — Zusi hits the post with a strike through traffic — Benny Feilhaber’s through ball to set up this double-chance for Sporting in sumptuous, and fully deserving of a proper finish.

53′ — Besler heads home, but he’s offside — This is about as close an onside/offside decisions get.

79′ — Frei denies Feilhaber after a spectacular run — Feilhaber’s run was mesmerizing, but Stefan Frei’s save was the tiniest bit better.

88′ — Valdez heads home the late winner — If Besler was offside, Valdez was offside. An unfitting end to a thrilling game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Benny Feilhaber

Goalscorers: Valdez (88′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: D.C. United 2-4 Montreal Impact (video)

CORRECTS DATE - Montreal Impact forward Matteo Mancosu, back, celebrates his goal with Ignacio Piatti (10) during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against D.C. United, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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The game in 100 words (or less): There are epic playoff collapses, and there is the MLS Cup Playoffs abomination put forth by D.C. United on Thursday. Playing host to a Montreal Impact side that won just two of its last eight regular-season games and crawled over the finish line, United — winners of four of their last five and one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch — no-showed Thursday’s knockout-round tie, and their season is deservingly finished. Laurent Ciman put the Impact ahead inside the first five minutes, and United never recovered or seemed the least bit urgent with their season on the line. Matteo Mancosu bagged a brace either side of halftime to make it 3-0, and Ignacio Piatti, who was his usual brilliant self — so good, in fact, he made you forget Didier Drogba was unavailable due to injury/dispute over his role as a substitute — added a fourth not long before full-time. Lamar Neagle grabbed a late consolation goal for United, bringing them back to 4-1 before Taylor Kemp fired a laser past Evan Bush for 4-2 late in stoppage time, but that’s as close as they’d get. Up next for the Impact, it’s the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three moments that mattered

4′ — Ciman slots home from a corner for 1-0 — An absolute dream start for Montreal, as Ciman gets front side of his marker and benefits from a fortunate bounce after he scuffs the shot.

43′ — Mancosu slams home Piatti’s cross for 2-0 — Someone tell DCU that the knockout round is most definitely win-or-go-home. Horrific defending. Ball-watching all over the place. This is not the same team that won four of their last five in order to host this game.

58′ — Mancosu heads home at the near post for 3-0 — Steve Birnbaum has not had the greatest end to the 2016 season. Stay healthy, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Matteo Mancosu

Goalscorers: Ciman (4′), Mancosu (43′, 58′), Piatti (83′), Neagle (90′), Kemp (90+4′)

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

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Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.