Italy roundup: Napoli stumbles and Roma takes advantage

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The bottom six teams in Serie A all lost, while Napoli’s job at overtaking Roma for No. 2 on the table got a whole lot harder after they lost to Fiorentina.

Faouzi Ghoulam took a red card in the 37th minute for a late tackle, but it took Joaquin deep into the second half to solve 10-man Napoli. Manuel Pasqual sent a ball into the box that Joaquin headed home in the 87th minute.

Meanwhile AS Roma went on the road and won 2-0 at Chievo thanks to first-half goals from Mattia Destro and Gervinho, opening up a six-point lead on Napoli.

Though i Lupi remain 14 points of the league-leading Old Lady, as Juventus continued rolling with a 1-0 win at Catania. Carlos Tevez scored in the 59th minute before a red card to Gonzalo Bergessio made the win a bit easier.

Elsewhere

  • Torino 3-1 Livorno — 24-year-old Ciro Immobile struck thrice before Livorno broke the clean sheet at the 89th minute.
  • Parma 1-1 Genoa — The teams traded first half goals, with Isaac Cofie scoring for the visitors in the 21st minute before Ezequiel Schelotto equalized 10 minutes later.
  • Udinese 1-0 Sassuolo – Antonio Di Natale scored in the 26th before missing a pen in the 36th. It mattered not.
  • Sampdoria 5-0 Verona – Roberto Soriano scored a brace as four Sampdoria players netted in a rout.
  • Inter Milan 1-2 Atalanta — Mauro Icardi’s 36th minute goal was bookended by Giacomo Bonaventura’s 35th and 90th minute goals.
  • Lazio 1-1 AC Milan — Abdoulay Konko’s own goal was the only way Milan could break through, then allowing an Alvaro Gonzalez goal after half.
  • Bologna 1-0 Cagliari — Lazaros Christodoulopoulos notched a pen in the 78th minute.

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Juventus 29 25 3 1 65 19 46 14-0-0 11-3-1 78
Roma 28 19 7 2 54 14 40 11-3-0 8-4-2 64
Napoli 29 17 7 5 53 30 23 9-4-2 8-3-3 58
Fiorentina 29 15 6 8 49 31 18 8-3-3 7-3-5 51
Inter Milan 29 12 11 6 47 31 16 7-6-2 5-5-4 47
Parma 28 12 11 5 46 32 14 6-7-2 6-4-3 47
Lazio 29 11 9 9 37 36 1 7-4-3 4-5-6 42
Atalanta 29 12 4 13 33 39 -6 9-2-3 3-2-10 40
Verona 29 12 4 13 43 51 -8 8-2-5 4-2-8 40
Torino 29 10 9 10 42 37 5 6-5-4 4-4-6 39
Sampdoria 29 10 7 12 38 42 -4 6-4-5 4-3-7 37
AC Milan 29 9 9 11 42 43 -1 6-4-4 3-5-7 36
Genoa 29 9 9 11 32 36 -4 6-4-4 3-5-7 36
Udinese 29 10 4 15 33 42 -9 7-2-5 3-2-10 34
Cagliari 29 6 11 12 27 39 -12 6-4-5 0-7-7 29
Bologna 29 5 11 13 24 43 -19 3-7-5 2-4-8 26
Chievo 29 6 6 17 23 43 -20 4-2-8 2-4-9 24
Livorno 29 6 6 17 32 54 -22 4-4-7 2-2-10 24
Sassuolo 29 5 6 18 28 57 -29 4-1-9 1-5-9 21
Catania 29 4 8 17 21 50 -29 4-6-4 0-2-13 20

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.

Report: Guardiola close to adding $43m Benfica goalkeeper

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Year Two of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City could feature another big goalkeeper purchase.

Claudio Bravo hasn’t panned out in sky blue, and Joe Hart doesn’t look likely to be coming back. Wily Caballero is getting the lion’s share of the minutes right now, playing every minute aside from a trio of FA Cup matches since February.

[ MORE: Podolski scores screamer in German finale ]

$43 million is the fee noted by Abola when it comes to the latest target for Guardiola, a neck-tattooed Brazilian by the name of Ederson.

The Benfica backstop, 23, has 20 clean sheets in 32 appearances this season. He signed a new six-year deal in late January, but money may talk here.

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.