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Serie A: Icardi scores two, and there’s a new team on top

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MILAN (AP) Mauro Icardi scored twice as Inter Milan reinforced its title credentials by winning at Cagliari 3-1 to move to the top of Serie A on Saturday.

Icardi and Marcelo Brozovic scored for Inter before Leonardo Pavoletti set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the visitors.

However, Icardi scored late. The Inter captain moved level with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile at the top of the goal-scoring charts, with 15.

Inter moved a point above Napoli, which visits Udinese on Sunday. Cagliari, which tested Samir Handanovic several times, remained 13th.

“We’ll enjoy a night at the top of the league,” Icardi said. “The others should know that we are there, right up with them.

“Not playing in European competition this year allows us to work well during the week and build the basis for doing something important.”

Cagliari dominated the opening half hour and Handanovic pulled off good saves, notably denying Pavoletti from point-blank range.

However, Inter took the lead against the run of play in the 29th minute when Antonio Candreva crossed from the right to Ivan Perisic at the far post and he knocked it back for Icardi to tap in.

Inter’s Matias Vecino limped off early in the second half and was replaced by Brozovic, who scored with his first touch, firing home another Candreva cross from the right.

Cagliari reduced the deficit in the 71st. Paolo Farago swung the ball in from the right for Pavoletti to volley home.

Farago, however, was partly at fault for Inter’s third as he failed to clear the ball and Rafael‘s punch fell straight to Icardi, who rifled it into the bottom left corner.

Sampdoria followed its surprise victory over Juventus by losing to Bologna 3-0 despite Bologna playing the second half with 10 men.

Samp’s third defeat left it in sixth place, six points above Bologna, which moved up to seventh ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.

Sampdoria beat Juventus 3-2 in the previous round.

Bologna got off to a great start, taking the lead inside three minutes. Sampdoria goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano could only parry Mattia Destro’s effort and Simone Verdi tucked away the rebound.

Ibrahima Mbaye headed in Verdi’s corner in the 23rd and even the loss of defender Vasilis Torosidis to a second yellow card in first-half stoppage time made little difference.

Bologna withstood Sampdoria’s siege in the second half and added a third on the counterattack in the 73rd as Godfred Donsah ran from inside his own half before rolling the ball across for substitute Orji Okwonkwo, who had been on the pitch for less than four minutes.

Relegation-threatened Hellas Verona snapped a run of five successive defeats by beating Sassuolo 2-0. Verona played the final 24 minutes with 10 men after Thomas Heurtaux was sent off for two yellow cards.

Verona remained in penultimate place, two points below Sassuolo and a point behind 17th-placed Spal, which lost at Chievo Verona 2-1.

Mourinho on muted celebrations from Lukaku, himself

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There’s a lot of buzz about celebrating, and not celebrating, when it comes to Manchester United.

Star striker Romelu Lukaku‘s post-goal actions were muted for a second-straight week, and manager Jose Mourinho appeared nonchalant on the bench.

[ RECAP: WBA 1-2 Man Utd ]

For Lukaku, that could be down to his status as a former West Brom player (and to be sure he was quite energetic in support of Jesse Lingard‘s insurance goal).

As for Mourinho, this is a man who was quite critical of Man City’s celebrations after winning a derby at Old Trafford. And Jose isn’t one to let a story line die unnecessarily.

Here’s Mourinho when asked about Lukaku’s non-celebration, from the BBC:

“Maybe he looks to the bench and sees his manager doesn’t celebrate. Maybe he loves West Brom. Maybe he remembers the team that helped him early in his career.

“I will celebrate if my team scores a winning goal in the last minute. But you have to have more maturity and keep your feet on the ground. If some guys want to be kids until the last day of their careers or if they want to act to the cameras then they can. But if we score an important goal then I can do anything.”

On one hand, I get it. On the other hand (and a third if I can find one), be okay with having a bit of fun, Jose.

United is back to within 11 points of leaders Man City, and it’s a massive mountain to climb for the Red Devils. Yet Ander Herrera, who was terrific again on Sunday, said the directive is simple: control what you can.

“We won three titles last season, which was very good. It is true that the top of the table is difficult to reach right now but this is Premier League, you never know. Our aim is just to keep winning games.”

The side’s 41 points through 18 matches would’ve been enough to lead the Premier League in two of the previous four seasons. No one’s going to tell United to be content with where they stand, but it’s been a fine season for Mourinho’s men so far.

WATCH: Liverpool battering Bournemouth with highlight reel half

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Philippe Coutinho is capable of elite magic, and he conjured up some fantasy on Sunday at the Vitality Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch via NBCSports.com ]

Liverpool and Bournemouth were scoreless when the Brazilian dribbled past Simon Francis and Lewis Cook on a mazy run, taking Andrew Robertson‘s square pass and dancing through daylight.

If only there were a body cam on Adam Smith, who was chasing Coutinho the whole time!

Dejan Lovren — does this require we say “of all people?” — then scored a diving header after Roberto Firmino saved a wayward corner kick.

And Mohamed Salah, what else can you say about the 20-goal scorer (in all competitions)?

Salah would get his goal in stunning fashion, bodying off a defender before dribbling past two more to finish with an off-balance belt past Begovic.

Kaka calls it a career; Won World Cup, Ballon d’Or

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson
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He’s the last Ballon d’Or winner neither named Messi nor Ronaldo, and he’s calling it a career.

Kaka announced his retirement on Sunday after a gleaming career on three continents.

Born Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, Kaka won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil and also boasts two Confederations Cup wins amongst his 92 caps and 29 international goals.

[ MAN CITY-SPURS: 3 things |  Studs and duds ]

Kaka debuted for Sao Paolo in 2001, and left for AC Milan three seasons later. Thrice names in the UEFA Team of the Year and twice the Serie A Footballer of the Year, Kaka won Serie A with Milan and La Liga with Real Madrid.

He spent the final three seasons of his career in Major League Soccer with Orlando City SC, and was magnificent. The 35-year-old scored 25 goals with 19 assists for the Lions.

West Brom 1-2 Manchester United: Red Devils hang on

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  • United back into second
  • Lukaku scores 10th PL goal of season
  • Baggies winless in 16

Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard scored first half goals and Manchester United held on to beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at the Hawthorns on Sunday.

Gareth Barry scored the Baggies’ lone goal, as Alan Pardew‘s men sit 19th and without a win since August.

United pulls three points ahead of Chelsea, and is 11 points back of Man City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Brom wasn’t intimidated by the task at hand, and James McClean was particularly lively as the Baggies tried to find an opener.

But United quickly settled into control through possession, albeit without any effective incisiveness.

That changed when Lukaku rose to deposit a trademark header beyond the reach of Ben Foster, converting Marcus Rashford‘s cross with power.

After a moment of danger provided by Allan Nyom and Salomon Rondon, United made it 2-0 when Lingard took a lay-off from Juan Mata and hit a shot that Ahmed Hegazi deflected past Foster.

Jake Livermore forced David De Gea into a low save in the 44th minute.

 

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The Baggies pulled one back as both Evans and Barry could’ve tapped in a loose ball off a corner kick.

Barry did, and United was on its heels. Credit Alan Pardew for his substitutes of Barry, Chris Brunt, and Jay Rodriguez (though they were, after all, on the bench).

Rodriguez powered a header off Brunt’s cross wide of the near post with about five minutes to play.

And a scramble in front nearly put the Baggies level, but De Gea was there. The keeper was kicked by Ahmed Hegazi and came up smarting.