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Serie A: Napoli, Juve surge ahead in title race

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Medhi Benatia scored against his old club to help Juventus beat title rival Roma 1-0 on Saturday and move to within a point of leader Napoli in one of the tightest Serie A races in years.

Earlier, Napoli fought back to beat Sampdoria 3-2 in a match in which Marek Hamsik became the club’s all-time leading scorer with his 116th.

Juventus moved four points above Inter Milan, which had a penalty saved in a 1-0 loss at Sassuolo.

Roma remained fourth, seven points behind Napoli but with a game in hand.

Benatia, who spent a season at Roma before leaving for Bayern Munich in 2014, almost did his old club a favor deep in stoppage time with a poor backpass which sent Patrik Schick clear on goal, but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny rushed out to parry with his legs.

“I’m pleased because Roma is a rival for the title,” Benatia said. “Having won with my goal is an added joy … although of course I have friends there.

“We could have finished it off but we made a couple of mistakes in attack. Then we risked a lot with my mistake, but luckily Szczesny was phenomenal. It … could have cost us a lot. We are still the team to beat.”

Juventus broke the deadlock in chaotic fashion following a 19th-minute corner. Roma goalkeeper Alisson did brilliantly to keep out Giorgio Chiellini’s header and turned Benatia’s attempt from the rebound onto the bar but couldn’t keep out the Morocco defender’s follow-up.

Another former Roma player was in goal for Juventus, with Szczesny standing in for the injured Gianluigi Buffon. He did well to deny Stephan El Shaarawy from close range.

Roma’s night was almost made worse by another ex-fan favorite, but Miralem Pjanic’s shot came off the crossbar.

Alessandro Florenzi also hit the bar for the capital club.

Napoli was behind twice before Hamsik surpassed Argentina great Diego Maradona’s tally with the winner shortly before halftime.

Sampdoria got off to a perfect start in Naples as Gaston Ramirez curled a free kick into the top left corner with less than two minutes on the clock.

Napoli leveled when Emiliano Viviano could only parry Jose Callejon’s volley and Allan fired home the rebound.

Fabio Quagliarella restored Sampdoria’s lead with a penalty after Elseid Hysaj brought down Ramirez.

It was Quagliarella’s first time back at Napoli since he revealed a stalker nightmare forced him to leave his hometown club in 2010.

Lorenzo Insigne marked his return from injury with an equalizer, volleying Dries Mertens’ chipped pass into the bottom left corner.

Hamsik made history six minutes later, still in the first half.

Allan dribbled past three players in the area before picking out Mertens, who rolled the ball across for Hamsik to tap in from close range.

The only negative note for Napoli was the dismissal of defender Mario Rui 13 minutes from time following a second yellow card.

Little more than a week ago, Inter was on top of the table and the only unbeaten team in the league.

It is now five points off the pace following a second successive defeat.

Diego Falcinelli scored the only goal 11 minutes from halftime, heading in a cross from Matteo Politano, who ran almost the entire length of the right flank.

Falcinelli needed several minutes of treatment afterward as he clattered into the post as he scored.

Icardi, who earlier missed a sitter and saw an effort cleared off the line, should have leveled five minutes after the break but Andrea Consigli saved his penalty after Francesco Acerbi’s handball.

It was a third successive win for Sassuolo, which moved five points clear of the relegation zone.

AC Milan was booed off the pitch after falling to a second successive defeat, 2-0 at home to Atalanta.

Gennaro Gattuso has just one win from his four league matches since replacing Vincenzo Montella as coach.

VIDEO: Sporting KC’s Medranda scores wonder goal in win over Vancouver

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Sporting KC showed again on Friday night why they’re the rightful leaders at the top of the Western Conference, pulling four points ahead of the LA Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps with a dominating 6-0 win over the Whitecaps at home.

Scottish forward Johnny Russell bagged a hat-trick in the game, all by the 48th minute, but the highlight of the night came off the foot of 24-year-old Jimmy Medranda. The Colombian scored an absolute worldie from a ridiculous angle, taking the space given to him outside the top-left corner of the box and sailing it over the head of Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and into the back of the net.

It was, of course, massively beneficial to Sporting KC that Vancouver went two men down in the 40th minute after a huge skirmish that saw Yordy Reyna and Efrain Juarez both sent off. Reyna earned his marching orders for throwing Russell to the ground, while Juarez reportedly used unacceptable language.

Still, KC was already up 3-0 when the incident occurred, and credit must go to teams that take advantage of what has been handed to them. Sporting KC certainly did that as Russell becomes the first Scotsman to score an MLS hat-trick since Colorado’s John Spencer in 2001, and Medranda’s wonder goal sealed the deal past the half-hour mark.

Jurgen Klopp already wants a piece of Man City next season

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Manchester City may have run away with the Premier League title this year, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp can’t wait for a clean slate to try and challenge City’s title defense next season.

The Reds are into the Champions League semifinals and also looking to finish the Premier League season strong in a battle for positioning in the top four, but when asked about next year, Klopp was giddy.

“Of course I don’t fear the challenge,” Klopp said in his prematch press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League visit to West Brom on Saturday morning.

The German made it clear he wants a piece of Manchester City next season. “This year, if City plays a normal season – which they didn’t do – then it would have been really close until the end because we are now all close together.”

“United is four points ahead [of Liverpool], Tottenham is two points behind. It’s a real fight for these positions. All big six pretty much delivered this year but City delivered the best. We will see. It’s difficult to deal with success as it is difficult to deal with other things in football but I’m pretty sure they will be strong again.”

Liverpool is one of only two teams to beat City in league play this year, with Manchester United being the other. Klopp and company torched the City back line in a wild 4-3 victory that ended City’s 22-match unbeaten run. Ultimately, though, Klopp knows they have to look at the entire season as a whole to best the defending champs next year, not just their matches against each other.

“It’s not important how good City will be, it’s about how we can get all the other points, plus the points we got so far again,” he said. “That’s the job to do. That is why it is always possible that it is closer. But are they able to dominate? They don’t have a limit to spending and all that stuff so I don’t know.”

VIDEO: Goalkeeper sends Memphis Depay flying with skillful touch

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Former Manchester United attacker Memphis Depay has one of the brightest spots for Lyon this season that sees them battling with Monaco and Marseille for 2nd place behind a dominant PSG. He has scored 15 goals and assisted 11 others this Ligue 1 campaign, adding to his tally just four minutes into Friday’s 5-2 win over Dijon, the sixth win in a row for the club that pulled them within a point of Monaco.

However, there was a moment to forget for Depay in the victory as well.

With the score still at 1-1 in the 19th minute, Depay was sent high up the pitch to press Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet, owner of the leakiest net of the Ligue 1 season. Nevertheless, sometimes the underdog prevails, and that’s what happened as Depay flung himself at the ball to put Reynet under pressure.

One silky touch by the netminder was all it took for Depay to end up on his backside.

The 24-year-old Dutch winger has had a fantastic season and one that could potentially propel him back to the biggest stage and a bigger paycheck, but for now, we can all poke fun at his misery in the moment.

Dortmund admits interest in signing Batshuayi permanently

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Michy Batshuayi might be out for the season with a serious ankle injury, but he may have already done enough to earn a permanent move to Borussia Dortmund.

The Chelsea striker moved on loan to the Bundesliga side in January and made an immediate impact, scoring two goals on his debut, and ultimately wound up with seven goals in 10 Bundesliga games before his ankle injury brought his season to a close. Now, the Dortmund front office is speaking very highly of the Belgian goalscorer, not so subtly hinting that they will take an aggressive approach this summer.

The interest to sign him is there,” said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke. “But first we have to wait and see who will be Chelsea’s coach next season. Then we’ll start looking.”

Chelsea has Antonio Conte currently at the helm, but there are strong rumors that the Italian will depart at the end of the season as the Blues sit comfortably outside the Champions League places. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is known for his quick trigger, and despite Conte winning the Premier League just last season, this year’s disappointment will likely not be tolerated.

That yet-to-be-determined future has a significant impact on Batshuayi’s future, as Watzke mentions. The new Chelsea boss could take a liking to Batshuayi, which could complicate his permanent move. In addition, it’s possible that current players on the Blues roster could depart, like Alvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud, or Willian, making Batshuayi’s place at Chelsea more tenable.

There’s plenty to be sorted out in the coming months, but with Batshuayi’s 10-game performance at Westfalenstadion at the forefront of Watzke’s mind, it’s clear there will be potential here as the summer draws near.