SSC Napoli v AS Livorno Calcio - Serie A

Serie A roundup: Napoli keeps pace with Roma, Verona continues to surprise

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It’s time to take our weekly look around the Italian league.

Napoli 4-0 Livorno

Yesterday, we saw Roma blast Inter to continue their unprecedented start to the season.  Today, it was Napoli’s turn to keep pace.

Four different players scored goals as Rafa Benitez’s squad continues to fly through Serie A.  Jose Callejon, Goran Pandev, Gokhan Inler, and Marek Hamsik all got on the scoresheet, and the Azzurri bounced back from their midweek Champions League failure against Arsenal.

Even with Gonzalo Higuian and Raul Albiol injured, they roll on and head into the international break unsure whether their blockbuster matchup with Roma on October 19 will even take place. It could be postponed or moved to Naples due to a major demonstration due to take place in Rome that day.

Bologna 1-4 Hellas Verona

Verona continue to shock the Italian soccer world as the newly-promoted club claimed their first away win of the season by demolishing Bologna wire to wire.

The win sends Verona to fifth in the table with 13 points from seven matches, including four wins.  Four different players scored for the visitors meaning now four players on the squad have at least three goals on the season.  The result sends winless Bologna down to 19th.

Parma 3-1 Sassuolo

Parma lost a man early on a questionable penalty decision that saw goalkeeper Antonio Mirante sent off, but they rebounded with fantastic play from Antonio Cassano to win 3-1.

Mirante’s red-card challenge just before halftime saw Sassuolo level the score at the break, but Cassano’s goal and two assists were too much for the newly promoted side.

Udinese 2-0 Cagliari

The home side preserved their fortress, as Francesco Guidolin’s squad kept their undefeated home streak alive and moved to the top half of the table.  Antonio Di Natale and Danilo were the two on the scoresheet.

Udinese hasn’t lost at home since September 2012. Despite this, they only progress to eighth in the table thanks to having lost every game on the road so far.

source: AP
Eder Citadin (left) scored the equalizer for Sampdoria on a penalty in stoppage time.

Cagliari now remain in 14th place as they have not won in six games, and have not grabbed three points on the road since February.

Sampdoria 2-2 Torino

Torino will be leaving Genoa with their heads hung low as they saw a lead evaporate at the last moment to share points with winless Sampdoria.

Eder Citadin won a penalty just seconds before the final whistle and took the responsibility himself cooly. It’s been a rough few weeks for Torino, with this result on the heels of their tough 1-0 loss to Juventus in the Turin derby.

Catania 1-1 Genoa

Catania ruined their own fortunes as an own goal at the end handed Genoa a point and erased two of Catania’s own. Nicola Legrottaglie headed the ball into his own net just three minutes before full time.

It’s a surprising start to Gian Piero Gasperini’s coaching stint at Genoa, after he replaced Fabio Liverani who was sacked after a loss to Napoli last week. Both sides now sit on just five points, just above the drop zone.

Still to come:

Later today, Juventus takes on Milan in a massive tie, and Lazio hosts Fiorentina.

MLS Cup Playoffs: LA Galaxy 3-1 Real Salt Lake (video)

Los Angeles Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme (37) congratulates forward Alan Gordon (9) for scoring against the Real Salt Lake during the first half of a knockout round MLS playoff soccer match in Carson, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy are through to the conference semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs, where they’ll take on the Colorado Rapids beginning Sunday, for the seventh time in eight years with a 3-1 knockout-round triumph over Real Salt Lake at the StubHub Center on Wednesday. Alan Gordon put the home side ahead inside the first quarter-hour before RSL drew level seven minutes later, but Emmanuel Boateng bagged a quickfire brace to complete a pair of brilliant individual exhibitions of dribbling inside the penalty area. With Steven Gerrard unavailable and Robbie Keane only fit to feature off the bench, Bruce Arena turned to Gordon, who gave way to Keane early in the second half after picking up an injury of his own, to play the fulcrum of the Galaxy attack, and it worked to near-perfection during the opening half-hour. Landon Donovan started the game and played 87 minutes, providing the kind of defensive work rate that’s been missing up and down the flanks of LA all season. Sebastian Lletget put in a near-flawless passing performance while playing deep in midfield. Don’t look now, but those are the Galaxy’s biggest question of 2016, all just about answered as the playoffs begin. I won’t say, “I told you so” if/when they win MLS Cup 2016, but…

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

Three Four moments that mattered

14′ — Gordon finishes from close range for 1-0 — Landon Donovan -> Giovani dos Santos -> Alan Gordon. Just like Bruce Arena drew it up in preseason midseason last month this week this morning.

21′ — Plata converts from the spot after Morales’ dive — Javier Morales was angling for a penalty from the moment he entered the penalty area. All Emmanuel Boateng had to do was look at him, and Morales was going down.

26′ — Boateng weaves through to make it 2-1 — Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Boateng took advantage of some poor defending, and the Galaxy were back in the lead.

34′ — Boateng cuts inside, blows past his man, makes it 3-1 — There’s playing in top gear, and there’s having an extra gear that you rarely have to use because no one else on the field has it. Boateng falls into the latter category.

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

Men of the match: Emmanuel Boateng

Goalscorers: Gordon (14′), Plata (21′), Boateng (26′, 34′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: Toronto FC 3-1 Philadelphia Union (video)

Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): 10 years later, Toronto FC are MLS Cup Playoffs victors. For eight seasons, the playoffs eluded them altogether. Last year, they were one-and-done in embarrassing fashion at the hands of their local rivals. In 2016, it was  their year — a proclamation we’d heard plenty times before — and so far, they’ve lived up to the hype. Wednesday’s 3-1 home victory over the Philadelphia Union in the knockout round gets the monkey off the Reds’ back, but more importantly, afforded Sebastian Giovinco, who bagged a goal and an assist on the night (his second straight game with such a line), 90 more minutes of game time after missing more than a month through injuries as the regular season wound down. After 270 minutes of action, the Atomic Ant looks sharp as ever, and destined to terrorize New York City FC, whom TFC will face in the conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

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

Three Four moments that mattered

15′ — Atlidore feeds Giovinco for 1-0 — The first playoff goal in TFC’s 10-year history. Poor goalkeeping, ball-watching defending, terrible touches, an overhead cross, and a strike off the crossbar. There’s a lot going on here. Watch it all right here.

49′ — Osorio slams home from the corner for 2-0 — The Union have been bad at defending set pieces all season, so is it at all surprising a set-piece gaffe effectively ended their season? No, it’s not.

73′ — Bedoya puts the loose ball home for 2-1 — Speaking of failing to effectively clear a corner kick, the Union were gifted a lifeline 15 minutes before full-time.

85′ — Altidore puts it out of reach, seals it for TFC — Ken Tribbet did not have the best night a center back has ever seen. His final blunder resulted in Jozy Altidore reclaiming TFC’s two-goal lead, and ending the Union’s 2016 season.

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

Men of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Giovinco (15′), Osorio (49′), Bedoya (73′), Altidore (85′)

Men In Blazers podcast: Mourinho’s Chelsea return; Bradley’s 1st point

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo break down Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea with Manchester United, another stumble for Manchester City and Bob Bradley’s first Premier League point.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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VIDEO: Altidore, Giovinco combine for TFC’s first-ever playoff goal

Sebastian Giovinco
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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It’s been 10 years in the making, and Toronto FC finally have their first-ever goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

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

After failing to qualify for the playoffs in each of their first eight seasons, 2015 saw the Reds venture into the postseason for the first time ever, only to be thumped in the knockout round, 3-0, by their 401 derby rival Montreal Impact, of all sides.

This is the year, though, or so we’ve said and been told all season long. While it remains to be seen how deep of a run TFC can muster in 2016, they’ll always have the Jozy Altidore‘s terrible first touch; Altidore’s wayward second and third touches; Altidore’s overhead cross; and Sebastian Giovinco’s strike, all of which you can watch in all its hilarity glory below.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Playoffs edition | MLS Cup predictions ]