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Serie A: Milan derby entertains again; Juventus go 8 points clear

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MILAN (AP) Cristian Zapata’s stoppage-time equalizer prevented the new era at AC Milan from getting off to a losing start on Saturday as the Rossoneri fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at city rival Inter Milan.

Antonio Candreva and Mauro Icardi scored in the first half but Alessio Romagnoli reduced the deficit in the 83rd minute before Zapata’s leveler in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Milan remained sixth in Serie A, two points above Inter in the race for the final qualifying position for the Europa League.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Spurs apply pressure to Chelsea (again) ]

This was the first match since the $800 million takeover of Milan was completed on Thursday by Chinese-led Rossoneri Sport Luxembourg, ending Silvio Berlusconi’s 31-year reign.

Inter, which is also owned by a Chinese group, was taken over last year by Suning.

“It was an advert for the East, it was a hard-fought match, which gave the fans emotions – both positive and negative,” Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. “I think Milan and Inter offered up a great spectacle.

“This team gave the last victory to Berlusconi, against Palermo, and also the last trophy and that’s a privilege. A win would have been better today but a draw which arrived in this way and for how the team played is a good start.”

New Milan President Yonghong Li was in the stands for the match, which kicked off at 12:30 p.m. local time – perfect for prime time Chinese television audiences seven hours ahead.

[ MORE: Sunday’s PL preview — Chelsea visit Mourinho at Old Trafford ]

Milan fans unveiled a banner at halftime, mocking that decision as it depicted a man eating cash with chopsticks and the words, “All you can eat … have a nice meal Italian league.”

The Rossoneri supporters also displayed another banner at the start of the first half, with the words: “We hope to see seriousness, commitment and presence. We give our welcome to the new management.”

Milan attacked from the start and almost took the lead in the second minute but Carlos Bacca fired over from close range after Samir Handanovic denied Gerard Deulofeu and a series of shots was charged down.

Deulofeu went close again in the 14th but his effort went off the base of the right post from a tight angle.

Milan looked to be the more dangerous side but Inter broke the deadlock in the 36th on its first real chance. Roberto Gagliardini sent a long ball over the top to Candreva, who shrugged off Mattia De Sciglio to chip it over the onrushing Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Inter doubled its lead a minute from halftime as Ivan Perisic won the ball in midfield, played a one-two with Icardi and then raced down the left flank before pulling back from the byline for the Argentine to tap in at the near post.

It was Icardi’s first goal against Milan in nine matches.

Milan got back in the match in the 66th minute when Romagnoli volleyed in Suso’s cross from close range, giving Milan new belief.

Everyone, including Donnarumma, went up for a corner, which Bacca headed on and Zapata managed to turn into the net off the underside of the bar. Goal-line technology proved the ball had gone over.

It was revenge after the first meeting between the two sides this season had also ended 2-2, following Perisic’s last-minute equalizer.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Juventus 32 26 2 4 64 20 44 16-0-0 10-2-4 80
 Roma 32 23 3 6 70 27 43 14-1-1 9-2-5 72
 Napoli 32 21 7 4 75 33 42 11-4-2 10-3-2 70
 Lazio 32 18 7 7 54 36 18 10-2-4 8-5-3 61
 Atalanta 32 18 6 8 53 35 18 10-2-3 8-4-5 60
 AC Milan 32 17 7 8 49 35 14 11-2-3 6-5-5 58
 Inter Milan 32 17 5 10 59 37 22 10-3-3 7-2-7 56
 Fiorentina 32 14 10 8 50 41 9 8-7-1 6-3-7 52

Roma’s faint hopes of beating Juventus to the Serie A title are all but over, while it is at risk of losing out on second spot to Napoli.

Roma slipped eight points behind Juventus with just six matches remaining. Third-placed Napoli closed the gap on Roma to just two points after a 3-0 victory over Udinese, thanks to goals from Dries Mertens, Allan and Jose Callejon.

Atalanta remained fifth, two points ahead of AC Milan.

Jasmin Kurtic fired Atalanta in front in the 22nd after good work from Andrea Conti, who went past Antonio Rudiger on the left.

Roma leveled five minutes after the break, when Mohamed Salah knocked down Mario Rui’s cross for Edin Dzeko to tap in and score his 25th league goal of the season, keeping him level with Torino’s Andrea Belotti at the top of the goalscoring charts.

Daniele De Rossi almost scored a spectacular goal but his overhead kick from the edge of the area crashed off the post. Roma hit the woodwork again when Radja Nainggolan’s effort came off the underside of the crossbar.

Gonzalo Higuain scored two first-half goals as Juventus won 2-0 at relegation-threatened Pescara.

[ MORE: La Liga roundup — Madrid, Barca win final games before El Clasico ]

However, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala limped off in the 54th with an ankle injury, which will be a worry for the Bianconeri ahead of the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday, where they lead Barcelona 3-0.

Lazio’s hopes of sneaking into the Champions League were also dented as it was held 2-2 at Genoa, while Fiorentina lost 2-1 against Empoli after conceding a stoppage-time penalty.

Elsewhere, Sassuolo beat Sampdoria 2-1, Cagliari thrashed Chievo Verona 4-0, Torino drew 1-1 against Crotone and Bologna’s match at Palermo ended 0-0.

Klopp: Liverpool “not 500 miles away” from Man City’s standard

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Jurgen Klopp remains bullish on his Liverpool’s credentials as one of the Premier League’s top-four sides title challengers this season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview — Spurs vs. Liverpool ]

While everyone else might be writing off the Reds due to their propensity for defensive disasters on an every-game basis, Klopp refuses to concede that a gap of “500 miles” exists between his side and Manchester City, the early-days runaway leaders of the 2017-18 season — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t compare City with us, but I think everyone can see we are not 500 miles away. But they fly. It was a very decisive day when we lost 5-0. Dealing with a 5-0 defeat is not the easiest thing. We didn’t lose confidence but we were not that fluent afterwards and it was not like we could close our eyes and finish [thinking about it]. They did exactly the opposite. I saw the Stoke goals, you see the shot from Fernandinho and you think, ‘If it works, it works even like this.’ They are a fantastic team and we don’t have to compare, but it starts so early again with us having to apologize for the season so far because one team is flying.”

“Their way of football I would say is not something we are too far away from but to be as clinical as they have been so far? We weren’t.

“That’s the thing. We are still in the race, not with City in the moment because they have I don’t how many points, and I don’t say already that we should only fight for a top-four place. Performance-wise we are a team that should be there but now we have to get the results.”

[ TACTICS SESSION: Inside the brilliant mind of Kevin De Bruyne ]

All due respect to Klopp and Liverpool, the league table says City currently have 25 points (having played one game more), while Liverpool have 13. That’s not a difference of 500 points, but taking into account not only results but performances, it might as well be.

Ligue 1: Falcao, Balde score to keep Monaco close to PSG

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PARIS (AP) French champion Monaco got back to winning ways with a 2-0 home win against Caen on Saturday.

Monaco lost three and drew one of its previous four games in all competitions. But coach Leonardo Jardim’s side was largely in control against a Caen side that started brightly and faded after Keita Balde’s opening goal and first for Monaco.

“It was important to win, to get a bit of confidence back,” Jardim said. “We’ve been working hard and the players were very serious today.”

Captain Radamel Falcao scored his league-leading 13th from the penalty spot in the 59th, confidently sending goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre the wrong way.

The win moved second-place Monaco within three points of Paris Saint-Germain, having played one game more. Unbeaten PSG is away at bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Falcao’s partnership with teen star Kylian Mbappe was crucial to Monaco’s charge to the league title and the Champions League semifinals last season. Mbappe left to join PSG in a high-profile move — as did several other key players — but Falcao’s new partnership with the unselfish Balde looks a promising one.

“We’ve lost a few players and we need a bit of time, it’s been a bit difficult for us,” Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said. “I hope we can stay at the top of the table and that the young players can shine. We have a lot of quality here.”

Balde has been sharp in his handful of appearances since joining from Lazio in the offseason, but mainly as a link player and a provider.

This time, the Senegal forward finished off the move as he ran onto Thomas Lemar’s perfectly weighted pass into his path, cut across a defender on the edge of the penalty area and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Lemar almost created another goal when his corner was headed against the crossbar by Brazilian defender Jemerson late in the first half.

Falcao put the game beyond doubt from the spot after Slovenian midfielder Jan Repas fouled attacking midfielder Rony Lopes.


After a tricky start to his tenure at Nantes, Italian coach Claudio Ranieri has turned things around.

Nantes beat Guingamp 2-1 at home to move up to third place, extending Ranieri’s unbeaten run to eight matches after losing the first two.

Nantes, which scored through defender Chidozie Awaziem and midfielder Abdoulaye Toure, is just two points behind Monaco.

The 2 Robbies: Terriers Triumph And Chelsea Leave It Late

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start today’s show off by discussing Huddersfield Town’s surprising win against Manchester United (00:20), Jose Mourinho’s measured post-match interview (03:50), praise Manchester City again (10:30), discuss Sean Dyche’s next move (16:10), analyze that exciting match between Chelsea and Watford (18:30) and finally, weigh in on Slaven Bilic’s future at West Ham United (27:30).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

La Liga: Barca win to maintain lead, but Valencia won’t go away

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona regained a four-point cushion atop the Spanish league with a ho-hum 2-0 win over visiting Malaga and surging Valencia dismissed Sevilla 4-0 at home on Saturday.

Barcelona faced last-placed Malaga in the closing match of the day, with added pressure from second-placed Valencia, which has won five in a row.

Barcelona is unbeaten after starting with seven straight wins and drawing with Atletico Madrid last week.

Seldom-used Gerard Deulofeu opened the scoring for Barcelona after just two minutes, and Andres Iniesta celebrated his first of the season in the second half thanks to a brilliant assist by Lionel Messi.

Defending champion Real Madrid hosts Eibar on Sunday.

Barcelona benefited from a flagrant referee misjudgment to get its go-ahead goal against Malaga. Left back Lucas Digne was allowed to center the ball after it clearly crossed the byline, and Deulofeu acrobatically back-footed it inside the net.

Despite the blow, the visitors got back up and managed to neutralize Barcelona for most of the first half, but lost striker Diego Rolan just before the second period. The Uruguayan import was forced off by injury.

Without Rolan, Malaga lacked bite in its pressure of the home backline, and Barcelona was able to polish ball circulation and find Messi with more frequency.

Messi received a clean pass from defender Javier Mascherano, drew the defense, and dropped a perfect pass for Iniesta, whose shot was deflected by defender Roberto Rosales on its way to the upper left corner.

Malaga surrendered and Barcelona dominated the rest of the way.


Gonzalo Guedes opened the scoring for Valencia near halftime with a majestic strike from outside the box after deftly outmaneuvering two defenders on the chase.

Simone Zaza added his eighth league goal after the break with a spin and low cross shot. Santi Mina came off the bench and scored the third with just five minutes to go, finishing off a speedy counterattack for the hosts.

But the show was all Guedes, and the Portuguese midfielder rounded off his great game with the closer, subtly poking the ball over goalkeeper Sergio Rico in added time.

Sevilla has lost three in a row in all competitions. Managed by Eduardo Berizzo, the team started off red-hot in La Liga but has floundered lately, ranking fifth.