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Coppa Italia: Roma up one after Napoli snares two away goals

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A late Gervinho winner gave Roma a 3-2 win over Napoli today at the Stadio Olimpico, but within the context of today’s Coppa Italia semifinal in Rome, it’s unclear which team has the advantage. The easy answer is Roma, who carry a one-goal lead into next week’s second leg at the San Paolo, but it’s possible Rafa Benítez would decline a chance to switch places with Rudi Garcia. The Napoli boss may prefer going home with two away goals rather than try to defend a one-goal lead, on the road, when the tiebreaker rests with the other team.

That’s the position Garcia’s Giallorossi find themselves in after 90 minutes of the clubs’ semifinal, a match Roma had under control after 45 minutes. With Kevin Strootman’s 32nd minutes blast doubling the lead earned by Gervinho’s 13th minute opener, Serie A’s second place team were ready to cruise to a comfortable first leg lead. But when Dries Martins’ 70th minute equalizer built on Morgan De Sanctis’s own goal just after halftime, the Neopolitans had gained the edge. Though the score was even at 2-2, the Partenopei’s pair of road goals gave them the edge in the tie.

Just minutes before the final whistle, a through ball for Gervinho allowed the Ivorian to restore Roma’s lead. Yet having seen Napoli claw their way being into the tie, the goal was more of a reprieve than triumph. Even in the first half, as Roma built their two-goal lead, close calls from Gonzalo Higuaín and Lorenzo Insigne could have provided an early spark for Napoli. Instead, the visitors needed to regroup at intermission to put Roma on their heals, with only the late substitution of Valon Behrami for Higuaín hinting Napoli were content to sit on they two goals.

Until that point, Napoli had played with a Roma team that’s been able to enforce their will on Serie A. Even mighty Juventus, a team running away with a third straight league title, demurred to Roma in the team’s January meeting, eventually countering the Giallorossi into their first loss of the season. Benítez, to his credit, didn’t let a Garcia’s team dictate terms, holding 51 percent possession against a team that league Serie A by average 59.3 percent per game.

With the teams resuming their tie next Wednesday, momentum’s on Napoli’s side. Not only were they able to snare two goals on the road, but they did so against a team rested after their weekend league match was rained out. And they did so on their own terms. Next Wednesday, the Giallorossi will be coming off a Rome Derby, while Napoli can afford to rest some players at home against Milan.

Watch Live: Swansea vs. Liverpool (Lineups, Stream)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24:  Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores their fourth goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Hull City at Anfield on September 24, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Struggling Swansea City host high-flying Liverpool (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports) at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Swansea haven’t won since the opening day of the season with manager Francesco Guidolin under intense pressure, while Liverpool has won three-straight games in the Premier League as Jurgen Klopp‘s methods are blowing opponents away.

In team news striker Borja Baston makes his first start for Swansea, while Liverpool bring back Dejan Lovren.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Rangel, van der Horn, Amat, Naughton; Britton, Cork, Fer; Routledge, Borja, Sigurdsson. Subs: Nordfeldt, Mawson, Taylor, Fulton, Ki, Barrow, McBurnie

Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Mane, Coutinho; Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Sturridge, Klavan, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Origi

MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 0-2 New York City FC (video)

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: David Villa #7 of New York City FC celebrates his first half goal with teamate Andrea Pirlo #21 againd the Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium on March 13, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): With one goal already accomplished for New York City FC this season, Patrick Vieira’s group made positive strides in capturing another on Friday night in Houston. David Villa’s 20th and 21st tallies of the season gave the visitors the lead after halftime and NYCFC managed to hold onto the points from there. With just two matches remaining following the win over the Dynamo, NYCFC currently sits atop the Eastern Conference on 51 points. Meanwhile, the Dynamo remain nine points out of the final spot in the West with four matches to play.

[ MORE: NYCFC’s Vieira gets big praise from Dynamo counterpart ]

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Harrison tests Willis from distance — Chances were at a minimum in the opening stanza, but Joe Willis had to get down quickly here to deny Jack Harrison on this blast.

52′ — Villa hits his 20th on the season — The Dynamo defense won’t be pleased when they watch this one again, but in his typical fashion, David Villa found his way in on goal.

73′ — Saunders watches as Rodriguez hits post — It can be a game of inches at times and the Dynamo were certainly on the wrong end of this one as Raul Rodriguez’s effort struck the post and stayed out.

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

Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: David Villa (52′, 90′)

SKorean soccer club loses points over corruption scandal

JEONJU, SOUTH KOREA - MAY 24:  Besart Berisha action during the AFC Champions League Round Of 16 match between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Melbourne Victory at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on May 24, 2016 in Jeonju, South Korea.  (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The South Korean soccer league deducted nine points from league leader Jeonbuk Hyundai on Friday after one of the club’s employees was convicted of bribing referees in 2013.

The K-League also fined Jeonbuk 100 million won ($90,600). The club, which saw its 14-point lead over second-place FC Seoul reduced to a five-point margin, issued an apology and vowed to take measures to prevent it from happening again.

A court in Busan on Wednesday sentenced a Jeonbuk scout to a suspended prison term of two years for paying referees in exchange for favorable decisions in several league matches in 2013.

An official from Jeonbuk said the scout has been suspended by the team and it will soon make a decision whether to terminate his employment. He refused to be named, citing office rules.

The K-League had vowed reforms after being rocked by a massive match-fixing scandal in 2011, when 52 players were indicted for taking bribes in return for trying to manipulate the outcome of matches or betting their own money on the games.

Mangala replaces Mathieu in France squad

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03:  Kolbeinn Sigthorsson of Iceland and Eliaquim Mangala of France compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland at Stade de France on July 3, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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PARIS (AP) Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has been removed from the France squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers for an unspecified reason.

[ MORE: What’s Arsenal’s best XI in the Arsene Wenger era? ]

The French football federation gave no explanation for coach Didier Deschamps’s decision to replace Mathieu with Eliaquim Mangala, only saying he made the move “following a discussion” with the Barcelona player. Mangala is currently on a season-long loan at Valencia from Manchester City.

France takes on Bulgaria on Oct. 7 at the Stade de France before traveling to Amsterdam to play the Netherlands three days later in Group A.