Italy Soccer Serie A

Controversial Higuain winner keeps Napoli three behind Roma, which also wins

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Napoli left it both late and controversial in a 90th minute win over Torino, as striker Gonzalo Higuain’s match-winner featured some contact with his marker. 

Higuain’s long run to capture a Marek Hamsik pass included a bit of a shove and perhaps of trip of Torino captain Kamil Glik, as the Polish international wound up skidding to the grass. Glik was only able to raise his arms to the official as Higuain finished his chance and earned all three points.

Meanwhile, Serie A No. 2 Roma’s 2-0 halftime lead didn’t equal an easy win, as i Lupi had to deal with a stiff challenge from Udinese in the second half before holding on for a 3-2 win.

Francesco Totti scored in the 22nd minute, preceding Mattia Destro’s seventh of the year eight minutes later. Gervinho coolly collected a long pass from Totti and slid a seeing-eye pass through Udinese defenders to find Destro, who touched around the keeper before finishing.

Morgan De Sanctis was almost unbeatable between the sticks with several athletic saves on Antonio Di Natale. One first half parry earned the keeper an on-field salute from the legendary Italian striker.

RELATED: Italy roundup – Milan meets angry fans, Juve wins again and there’s a drop zone shuffle

Giampiero Pinzi got Udinese on the board in the 51st minute, making the Little Zebras just the third team to score at Roma in the Serie A this season. But Vasilis Torosidis restored the advantage, producing a 3-1 score line with a low left-footed strike after a dash to the middle of the pitch from the right wing. Both Torosidis and Pinzi recorded their first goals with their club.

Dustan Basta finished off the scoring in the 81st minute to make it 3-2.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)