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Serie A: Roma close gap to Juve; Fiorentina, Napoli in 3-3 thriller

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A roundup of Thursday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundupWednesday | Tuesday ]

Roma 3-1 Chievo

The gap between runaway leaders Juventus (who now have a game in hand) and second-place Roma has been reduced to just four points, after the Giallorossi came from a goal behind to win 3-1 at home against 10th-place Chievo. Jonathan De Guzman put the visitors ahead in the 37th minute, but that advantage wouldn’t last long, as Roma blitzed the Mussi Volanti (Flying Donkeys) as soon as the second-half whistle had gone.

Stephan El Shaarawy equalized less than 60 seconds into the second half, followed in short order by Edin Dzeko (13th goal of the league season — tied-2nd-most in Serie A), just six minutes later, and Diego Perotti converted from the penalty spot to complete the scoring in the second minute of second-half stoppage time. Serie A will now take more than two weeks off for its annual winter break before returning to action on Jan. 7.

Fiorentina 3-3 Napoli

Napoli fell to three points adrift of Roma in the race for second, though it looked a near certainty that the gap would be four points after 92 minutes at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Lorenzo Insigne scored an absolute stunner to put the visitors ahead after 25 minutes, but Federico Bernardeschi brought Fiorentina level six minutes into the second half.

Dries Mertens, who scored four on the weekend, put Napoli back in front after 68 minutes, only to see Bernardeschi and Mauro Zarate fire Fiorentina into the lead inside the ensuing 13 minutes. Mexican national teamer Carlos Salcedo committed an undeniable foul inside the penalty area well into second-half stoppage time, and Manolo Gabbiadini converted the spot kick to rescue a point and keep the Azzurri within touching distance of the second and final automatic qualifying spot for the UEFA Champions League.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Cagliari 4-3 Sassuolo
Palermo 1-1 Pescara
Sampdoria 0-0 Udinese
Torino 1-0 Genoa

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Juventus 17 14 0 3 36 14 22 9-0-0 5-0-3 42
 Roma 18 12 2 4 39 18 21 9-0-0 3-2-4 38
 Napoli 18 10 5 3 40 21 19 6-2-1 4-3-2 35
 Lazio 18 10 4 4 32 21 11 6-1-2 4-3-2 34
 AC Milan 17 10 3 4 27 20 7 6-2-1 4-1-3 33
 Atalanta 18 10 2 6 27 21 6 6-0-3 4-2-3 32
 Inter Milan 18 9 3 6 28 21 7 6-2-1 3-1-5 30
 Torino 18 8 4 6 36 27 9 6-2-1 2-2-5 28
 Fiorentina 18 7 6 5 28 24 4 4-5-0 3-1-5 27

Day 9: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U20 World Cup

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Five teams booked their place in the knockout phase at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Sunday, including Tab Ramos and the U.S. after the Americans picked up a valuable point to finish atop Group F.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

USMNT U-20s 1-1 Saudi Arabia

An unbeaten record in group play has Ramos and Co. moving on to the Round of 16, where the U.S. will meet New Zealand. Brooks Lennon inked his name on the scoresheet for the first time at this month’s World Cup just prior to halftime, before Abdulelah Alamri equalized with almost a quarter hour left to play.

Senegal 0-0 Ecuador

A draw was all Senegal needed to ensure it would continue its run at the World Cup, while Ecuador fell short of a final 16 bid after only managing two draws during Group F play.

New Zealand 0-2 France

With nine goals for and none conceded during Group E play, France remains one of the heavy hitters at the conclusion of the group phase. Les Bleus received a strong contribution from Bastia winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who netted twice in the first half.

Honduras 2-0 Vietnam

Honduras scored twice in the final 14 minutes-plus added time but neither nation reaches the Round of 16 with Sunday’s result.

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

[ MORE: Perisic talking with Man Utd? ]

The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”

MLS roundup: Outrageous dive, posts doom ‘Caps; Ramirez stays red hot

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Six matches are in the books on a busy Saturday in Major League Soccer, and five of them finished 1-0.

How they got there? Much different stories. With the Cali Clasico still to play, let’s dig into the five that followed Seattle 1-0 Portland.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]


Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 DC United

It’s especially difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer, unless the hosts fritter away four good chances off the woodwork — including a Cristian Techera PK — and give away a spot kick of their own. Lamar Neagle converted the 61st offering after a sinister dive from Jose Guillermo Ortiz. He was taken off soon after, and is probably going to miss sometime when the DisCo is done with him. Outrageous.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Not one, not two, nor three, but four New England players saw a low cross slide by them for Daniel Royer to finish as New York came from behind to take all three points at Red Bull Arena. Cody Cropper committed a gaffe that allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to equalize after a Lee Nguyen PK had put the Revs ahead early.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Sporting KC

Homegrown defender and University of Denver product Kortne Ford has his first MLS goal, as the Rapids surprised the Western Conference leaders on Saturday. SKC outshot Colorado by nearly 20 attempts (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Minnesota United 1-0 Orlando City

There were questions as to whether NASL superstar Christian Ramirez could translate his game to Major League Soccer.

Yes. The answer is yes.

Ramirez has eight goals in 13 MLS matches, and should be hearing his name from a certain Bruce Arena around Gold Cup time. Those USMNT dreams of last season should come true.

Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves for his third shutout of the season. All have come at home.

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Joao Plata keeps shooting, and the tiny Ecuadorian menace keeps scoring, too. His 36th minute goal was enough for the hosts at Rio Tinto.

Raiola: Zlatan to “100 percent” stay in Europe for two seasons

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]

Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.

But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.