Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

Serie A: Juve draw for first time this season, title lead still grows

Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) There is still a glimmer of hope for Roma and Napoli.

Juventus was prevented from going 10 points clear in Serie A as a lethargic performance saw the leaders held 1-1 at Udinese on Sunday. It was Juve’s first draw in the league this season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — As the kids would say, it was “lit” ]

Leonardo Bonucci was both hero and villain as he was outmuscled for Duvan Zapata’s opener but leveled on the hour.

Juventus is eight points clear of second-placed Roma and 10 ahead of Napoli with 11 rounds remaining.

“We gained a point on Roma,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “We were coming from a very hard period, where we played very important matches and today we faced a Udinese side which deserved to draw.

“When you can’t win certain matches, you mustn’t lose them … it’s an important point. And even with a win, the title race wouldn’t have been over.”

After Napoli won 2-1 at Roma on Saturday, Juventus knew it could take a big step toward an unprecedented sixth successive title.

[ MORE: Kane scores two more, Spurs top Toffees | Man City cruise ]

Udinese had picked up only one point from its previous four matches, scoring just one goal. But it took the lead eight minutes from halftime as Zapata held off Bonucci and beat Gianluigi Buffon at the near post.

Juventus struggled to create real opportunities but leveled when Bonucci headed in Paulo Dybala’s free kick.

Udinese coach Luigi Delneri was dismissed immediately after for dissent.

The home side almost restored its lead two minutes later but Danilo’s header came off the base of the left post, although it looked as if Buffon had it covered.

[ MORE: Alexis reportedly dropped after storming off training field ]

Ciro Immobile scored twice as Lazio maintained its late push for a Champions League spot.

Immobile had been on target in four of his last five matches and he took just nine minutes to open the scoring, heading in Senad Lulic’s cross.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic put in another impressive performance and the 22-year-old set up Lazio’s second with a delightful through ball to release Immobile for his 16th goal of the season.

Lazio moved fourth, four points behind Napoli.

Atalanta failed to keep up the pressure in the race for a Champions League spot as it was kept at bay by Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side had emerged as surprise contenders for a top-three finish after beating Napoli last weekend but it slipped five points below the Champions League qualifying spots.

Atalanta laid siege to the goal but could not find a way through due to a combination of wayward finishing and excellent saves by Tatarusanu. He also somehow managed to claw Andrea Petagna’s effort off the line and out off the upright late on.

Ever Banega made the most of a rare start as he scored one goal and set up another to help Inter Milan comfortably beat Cagliari and remain six points behind Napoli.

Ivan Perisic scored twice as Inter bounced back from last week’s 3-1 defeat at home to Roma.

[ MORE: Belotti’s hat trick sends him top of goal-scoring charts ]

“We got what we wanted, to react at the right moment and in the best way possible after the defeat to Roma,” Perisic said. “We still believe in third place.

“Today we showed we are on the right path. We will give our utmost until the end.”

Inter broke the deadlock in the 36th when Ivan Perisic controlled Banega’s chipped pass with his right foot and hit it past Gabriel with his left.

Banega doubled Inter’s lead three minutes later with a free kick into the top left corner.

Cagliari got back into it shortly after. Samir Handanovic did well to keep out David Di Gennaro’s free kick but the ball was crossed back in for Marco Borriello to head home.

Perisic doubled his tally two minutes after the break following a lovely one-two with Mauro Icardi, who backheeled it for the Croatia forward to curl into the bottom right corner.

Icardi scored his 17th league goal of the season with a penalty in the 67th after he was tripped by Gabriel and Roberto Gagliardino netted his first for Inter two minutes from time.

Ligue 1: Depay’s goal streak hits 5 games; Lyon reeling in Monaco

Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MONACO (AP) Lyon won at Dijon 5-2 and moved within one point of second-place Monaco in the French league on Friday.

Lyon’s sixth straight league win kept them level on points with fourth-place Marseille.

The team finishing second qualifies automatically for next season’s Champions League, while the team in third goes into the playoffs. After this weekend, there will be four rounds remaining.

Memphis Depay has scored or created 12 of Lyon’s 16 last goals.

The Netherlands forward opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a close-range volley, and set up the fourth goal for winger Bertrand Traore in the 77th.

Depay almost scored another, just failing to reach right back Rafael‘s cross in the 50th. Midfielder Houssem Aouar followed up and his strike was turned into his own net by defender Valentin Rosier.

Lyon’s other goals came from forwards Nabil Fekir in the 53rd and Maxwell Cornet in the 82nd.


MONACO (AP) — After losing the French title last weekend, Monaco is in danger of throwing away second place after losing at Guingamp 3-1 on Saturday.

The defeat leaves Monaco just one point ahead of Lyon and Marseille as the three sides chase an automatic place in the Champions League with four games left.

Monaco was thrashed by champion Paris Saint-Germain 7-1 last Sunday and the defense leaked easily again, albeit with a little help from one of its defenders.

A makeshift Monaco fell behind midway through the first half after Brazilian defender Jemerson was given a red card for stopping a shot on the line. He was sent off and veteran forward Jimmy Briand netted from the penalty spot for mid-table Guingamp.

Monaco capitulated and trailed 3-0 after 47 minutes. Defender Almamy Toure replied in vain with a consolation goal midway through the second half.


Marseille crushed Lille 5-1 to join Lyon on 69 points. Lyon, which won at Dijon 5-2 on Friday for a sixth straight win, has a better goal difference.

Marseille also has the Europa League and plays the first leg of its semifinal at home to Austrian side Salzburg next Thursday. But Lyon has only Ligue 1 to think about.

Still, Marseille is also brimming with confidence these days, especially winger Florian Thauvin.

He scored twice against Lille to extend his career-best league tally to 19. Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou also netted twice, and forward Lucas Ocampos completed the rout against 19th-place Lille.

In other matches: Amiens won against Strasbourg 3-1; struggling Toulouse beat Angers 2-0, and last-place Metz drew at home to Caen 1-1.

PSG is at Bordeaux on Sunday. Also, Nice is at home to Montpellier, and Saint-Etienne takes on Troyes.

UEFA says Europa League trophy not damaged after being stolen

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA says the Europa League trophy was not damaged after being stolen in Mexico.

The silverware was at a promotional event in the central city of Leon when it was reported by authorities to have been taken from a vehicle.

The theft came ahead of the semifinals of Europe’s second-tier club competition.

UEFA says the “Europa League trophy was in Mexico for a partner event and got briefly stolen. It was quickly recovered and has suffered no damages.”

In the semifinal first legs next week, Arsenal plays Atletico Madrid and Marseille takes on Salzburg.

Serie A: Roma prep for Liverpool by beating SPAL; Benevento win at Milan

Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Premier League preview ]

SPAL 2013 0-3 Roma

A few hours after a reserves-heavy Liverpool side played last-place West Bromwich Albion to a 2-2 draw in the Premier League, Roma, the Reds’ UEFA Champions League semifinal foes beginning Tuesday, hammered 17th-place SPAL on the back of goals scored by Radja Nainggolan and Patrik Schick.

Roma shocked the world — and Barcelona — to reach the semifinals, but still have a battle on their hands to finish inside Serie A’s top-four and qualify for next season’s Champions League. Following Saturday’s victory, Eusebio Di Francesco’s side is three and four points clear of fourth- and fifth-place Lazio and Inter Milan, respectively, though both of the chasing sides play on Sunday.

AC Milan 0-1 Benevento

The 2017-18 season has treated AC Milan, who spent massively last summer, far worse than Roma. Following Sunday’s home defeat to first-year top-flight (and last-place) side Benevento, Gennaro Gattuso’s side sits sixth (final automatic Europa League place) and lead seventh-place Atalanta, who play on Sunday, by just two points.

Pietro Iemmello scored the game’s only goal in the 29th minute.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 1-0 Fiorentina

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Cagliari vs. Bologna — 6:30 a.m. ET
Lazio vs. Sampdoria — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Inter Milan — 9 a.m. ET
Atalanta vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. Crotone — 9 a.m. ET
Juventus vs. Napoli — 2:45 p.m. ET

Barcelona cruise past Sevilla, lift historic 4th straight Copa del Rey

AP Photo/Francisco Seco
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Barcelona became the first team in 85 years to win four straight Copa del Rey titles after blowing away Sevilla 5-0 in the final on Saturday.

Luis Suarez scored twice, and Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Philippe Coutinho also made the scoresheet for Barcelona’s record-extending 30th Copa triumph, and sixth in the last decade.

Sevilla was trying to win a sixth Copa and save a season which will end without any trophies and maybe not even a place in the Europa League next season.

The final took place at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in the capital amid the ongoing political turmoil involving Catalonia’s bid for independence.

There were jeers by part of the Barcelona crowd when the national anthem was played, but the boos were largely subdued by the reaction of the numerous Sevilla fans in the crowd. Spain’s King Felipe VI smiled and saluted the fans after the anthem.

No other team had won four Copa titles in a row since Athletic Bilbao from 1930-33. The only other team to do it was Real Madrid from 1905-08.

Barcelona lost a chance to win the treble when it was eliminated by Roma in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, but it is three points away from winning the Spanish league.