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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.

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle

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  • Newcastle has lost 8 PL away matches in a row
  • Man City last lost at home in PL play to Chelsea in Dec 2016
  • Newcastle has picked up 1 of a possible 30 points vs. PL top half this season

Manchester City has a great chance to rebound from its first loss of the season as they host struggling Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday, live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

The Magpies have picked up their terrible mid-season form of late, but still remain just three points above the drop. They are unbeaten in three, with a win and two draws, and have lost just once in their last five.

Through Newcastle’s losing streak, the Magpies struggled to keep the ball out of their own net, with defensive issues all over the place. They suffered through a nine-game winless run where they conceded 19 goals. However, of late, the roles have reversed, and suddenly they can’t score. In their last four games, they have just two goals.

City, meanwhile, have a few injuries to deal with on the defensive side of things, where they cannot afford them. Fabian Delph went down in the last match and could be out for significant time, along with Vincent Kompany who continues to show his age and history of fitness issues.

INJURIES: Manchester City – OUT: Fabian Delph (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee). QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (illness), Vincent Kompany (fitness). Newcastle – OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (knock).


What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on build-up of injuries: “In these situations, it always depends on the mentality of the players, if they can make a step forward. If they can they play in positions that are not natural positions and the other guys help them, everything is going well.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on not having a full squad: “When you have a short blanket, if you pull it to your face, your feet are cold, if you cover your feet, your top half is cold.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been ok of late, but not nearly enough to keep Manchester City out of the back of the net. This could get ugly, with the Citizens looking to rebound from their season’s first loss. 3-0 Man City with the possibility that it could get much worse if Newcastle gives up.

PL Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

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  • Burnley has 1 win vs. Man United in last 23 meetings
  • Manchester United has not conceded a goal in 2018
  • Paul Pogba is joint-top of the league with 9 assists

A critical top of the table battle comes our way from Turf Moor (!!) on Saturday as Manchester United travels to Burnley live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

Since losing at Chelsea back in early November, Manchester United in unbeaten away from home and has won four of the five road matches. Burnley, meanwhile, has lost three matches in a row to start the new year and has not won in Premier League play since December 12th against Stoke City.

The goalscoring form of each team is also in stark contrast. Manchester United has not allowed a goal in any competition in 2018, and last conceded back on Boxing Day in a 2-2 draw with this Burnley side. The Clarets, meanwhile, have just one goal in their last three Premier League games and just three goals in their last six.

INJURIES: Burnley – OUT: Chris Wood (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Chris Taylor (ribs). Manchester United – OUT: Daley Blind (undisclosed), Eric Bailly (ankle), Michael Carrick (heart), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia.

What they’re saying

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on the gap in riches between clubs: “I don’t think any of us are surprised by the gap in the Premier League – I think it’s been there a long time and it’s getting harder year on year since the business model of football has changed.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on focusing despite transfer rumors: “In this moment, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan our player, [Alexis] Sanchez an Arsenal player and with a match tomorrow, I want to switch off and focus on the most important thing, which is the match.”

Prediction

Burnley may be coming back down to Earth, but they are still a formidable team with great organization, and Manchester United will be once again held to a draw, this time 1-1.

Alexis Sanchez in Arsenal squad, could play vs Crystal Palace

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Ahead of his nearly imminent move away from the Emirates, Alexis Sanchez could make an appearance for Arsenal against Crystal Palace this weekend as he was with the squad at the team hotel on Friday night, according to reports in England.

According to the reports, Arsene Wenger has not decided if he will play Sanchez against Palace or not, as any potential injury could seriously jeopardize any outgoing transfer in the works. However, naming him to the bench and allowing Sanchez to make one last appearance in front of the home fans would be a nice touch before he leaves, likely for Manchester United.

It probably doesn’t help Wenger’s selection that oft-injured Danny Welbeck will miss the match after picking up a muscle problem in training.

Sanchez did not travel with the team to Bournemouth last weekend as Arsenal lost 2-1 in stunning fashion. Sanchez has missed four Premier League games this season, and Arsenal has lost three of them.

The reports state Sanchez trained with the Arsenal first team on Friday, but only because the youth team he trained with the day before had left for a road trip.

Reports: LA Galaxy trades Gyasi Zardes to Columbus for Ola Kamara

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According to a reports by the LA Times and by ESPN, the LA Galaxy have traded US international Gyasi Zardes along with allocation money to the Columbus Crew for striker Ola Kamara.

Both reports state that Columbus will receive $400,000 in guaranteed allocation money in the deal, plus another $100,000 should Kamara score 12 goals next season to trigger the incentive.

Zardes was once a force along the wing for Bruce Arena and the Galaxy, but the 26-year-old has declined heavily in the last two seasons as injuries and poor form have held him to just eight goals over the last two seasons, including just two last campaign. Meanwhile, Kamara has been a star for Columbus in his first two years in Major League Soccer, scoring 16 goals in 2016 before netting another 18 last season, leaving him third in the league in goals scored over those two seasons.

The LA Times report states that Kamara will earn a new contract after the trade, giving him a raise over his current $482,500 yearly salary.

Zardes is an interesting case who shouldn’t be given up on just yet. A homegrown player for the Galaxy, he scored 17 goals in the 2014 season, including on in the MLS Cup Finals as the Galaxy won it all. He earned a seemingly permanent place on the USMNT as a result, and has 37 caps to this date. However, his goalscoring form has since evaporated, leaving him with no more than six goals in an MLS season since, and has just six goals in those 37 caps for the national team.

The Galaxy will need to acquire an additional international roster spot in order to activate Kamara for the season opener on March 4th against Portland, as they have filled up their seven spots as of now.