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La Liga & Serie A: Juventus blasts seven past Sassuolo and more

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Espanyol 1-1 Barcelona

Gerard Pique’s late finish gave the Blaugrana a share of the points on Sunday during a rainy affair at the RCDE Stadium. The hosts had taken the lead on 66 minutes when Gerard Moreno brilliantly finished a Sergio García cross from the right wing. Ernesto Valverde’s squad remains unbeaten in La Liga with the draw, and holds a nine-point lead over second-place Atletico.

Lionel Messi wasn’t in the starting XI on the day, which came as a shock to many, however, Barca brought on the Argentine striker after halftime to influence the match.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Valencia

Barcelona’s misstep against their cross-town rivals opened the door for Atletico to close the gap on the league leaders, and Diego Simeone’s men were able to do just that behind Angel Correa’s finish. The Atletico midfielder beautifully slotted home a shot into the top right corner just before the hour mark, when Koke picked his teammate out at the top of the box.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 0-0 Leganes
Girona 2-0 Athletic Bilbao


Juventus 7-0 Sassuolo

Sassuolo never really stood a chance, and a four-goal outburst in the first half ensured that Juventus would take all three points from Sunday’s affair in Italy’s top flight. Meanwhile, a second-half hat-trick from Gonzalo Higuain furthered the punishment for the visiting Sassuolo. The victory keeps Juve within a point league leaders Napoli, who also pulled off a victory on the day.

Benevento 0-2 Napoli

The Serie A leaders keep on proving their quality, and Dries Mertens’ first-half strike kept Napoli at the summit of Italy’s first division at the Ciro Vigorito. Meanwhile, Marek Hamsik doubled the lead just two minutes into the second half to ensure the victory for the first-place side. Napoli has now 19 of its 23 league matches this season.

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Hellas Verona 0-1 Roma
Atalanta 1-0 Chievo Verona
Bologna 1-2 Fiorentina
Cagliari 2-0 SPAL
Udinese 1-1 AC Milan

La Liga & Serie A: Pazzini spoils Real’s day, Inter drop points

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Levante 2-2 Real Madrid

Second-half substitute Giampaolo Pazzini played hero on Saturday at the Ciudad de Valencia as Levante picked up a vital point against Real Madrid and climbed out of the relegation zone. A Sergio Ramos header gave the Madridistas a lead inside the opening 11 minutes, before the hosts equalized before halftime through Emmanuel Boateng.

However, Isco restored the lead for Los Blancos with nine minutes remaining in regulation. It was all for not though as Real dropped points once again, when Pazzini finished off a through ball from Jason.

Unfortunately for goalkeeper Keylor Navas, he wasn’t getting much help from his backline, despite making several brilliant stops on the day.

Eibar 5-1 Sevilla

Don’t look now, but Eibar is up to seventh place in La Liga. The club’s fate against Sevilla was sealed early on when Kike scored less than a minute into the match. The hosts took a 3-1 lead into halftime, before goals from Fabián Orellana and Anaitz Arbilla extended the advantage in the second stanza.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 2-1 Villareal
Alaves 2-1 Celta Vigo

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Getafe vs. Leganes — 6 a.m. ET
Espanyol vs. Barcelona — 10:15 a.m. ET
Girona vs. Athletic Bilbao — 12:30 p.m. ET
Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia — 2:45 p.m. ET


Inter Milan 1-1 Crotone

Inter lost further ground on Italy’s top three after dropping points against 17th place Crotone. Eder‘s first-half strike gave the hosts a lead going into halftime, before Andrea Barberis equalized at the hour mark. Inter now sits fourth in Serie A on 45 points, 12 behind league leaders Napoli.

Sampdoria 1-1 Torino

The two top-half clubs lost ground on the top four today, as Sampdoria and Torino settled for a draw at Comunale Luigi Ferraris. Lucas Torreira gave Sampdoria a lead in the 11th minute, before Afriyie Acquah leveled the match at 1-1 over 13 minutes later. Acquah’s showing took a negative turn in the second half though when he was sent off for picking up a second yellow card.

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Hellas Verona vs. Roma — 6:30 a.m. ET
Atalanta vs. Chievo Verona — 9 a.m. ET
Bologna vs. Fiorentina — 9 a.m. ET
Cagliari vs. SPAL — 9 a.m. ET
Juventus vs. Sassuolo — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. AC Milan — 9 a.m. ET
Benevento vs. Napoli — 2:45 p.m. ET

Montreal to nab Algerian DP Taider from Bologna

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The loss of Swiss power Blerim Dzemaili is a big one for the Montreal Impact, but another World Cup player may be taking his place in Quebec.

[ MLS: Club-by-club SuperDraft needs ]

Tutto Bologna reports that Algerian playmaker Saphir Taider, 25, is set to sign with the Impact on a contract through 2020.

On loan to Montreal last season, Dzemaili went back to Bologna. Taider is coming back the other way and will reportedly be a Designated Player.

Taider isn’t as consistent a player as Dzemaili, but presents a skill set that should be a massive problem for MLS midfields.

He has 42 caps with five goals for Algeria, and was once property of Juventus. He spent parts of four seasons at Inter Milan, with loan stints back to Bologna, at Sassuolo, and a unremarkable time at Southampton.

Much Needed: Dzemaili to join Montreal early

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The Montreal Impact needs help, and will be receiving it soon from a familiar country.

DiMarzio reports that the Impact is close to adding Serie A veteran Blerim Dzemaili. The midfielder was set to join the team after the season, and apparently the move will happen before Bologna’s season concludes (The club is safe from relegation).

[ MORE: How long is Sunderland gone? ]

The 31-year-old Swiss midfielder has 55 caps and nine goals as an international, and has spent time with Torino, Napoli, Parma, Genoa, and his current home is Bologna.

The club boasts Italiasn Marco Donadel and Matteo Mancosu, the latter arriving from Bologna last year.

Montreal has won just one of its first eight matches. Dzemaili will go a long way towards changing that, assuming coach Mauro Biello finds the right midfield formula with Ignacio Piatti and Donadel or Hernan Bernardello.

‘Gabigol’ finally starts to pay off transfer in Inter win

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ROME (AP) Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa began repaying his 30 million euro ($32 million) transfer fee by scoring his first goal for Inter Milan in a 1-0 win at Bologna on Sunday.

Seven minutes after coming on, Barbosa tapped in a cross from Danilo D’Ambrosio in the 81st minute to secure fourth-placed Inter its ninth win in 10 Serie A matches.

Barbosa had been hailed as the next great Brazil striker when he signed a five-year deal after transferring from Santos in August. But he struggled in his first five months at Inter.

“I’m happy for him. He had a bit of a tough time at the start. But now he’s starting to click,” Inter coach Stefano Pioli said.

Garbosa was preparing to offer his teammates and coaches a Brazilian dinner to celebrate his goal.

“The dinner is more than welcome,” Pioli said.

With captain Mauro Icardi serving the second game of a two-match ban for dissent, Inter labored for long stretches.

Inter forward Rodrigo Palacio wasted a great chance directly in front of the goal 12 minutes in following a cross from Ivan Perisic.

But substitutions proved decisive and Inter has now scored 13 goals in the last 15 minutes of play this season – the most in Serie A.

“It’s always a good sign for a coach when you have a squad that believes until the end,” Pioli said. “We struggled between the lines and were slow maneuvering but we still worked hard. The team believed until the end and that perseverance paid off.”

CHIEVO VERONA 1, NAPOLI 3

Napoli bounced back from its Champions League loss at Real Madrid with a comfortable away win that extended its unbeaten streak in Serie A to 14 matches.

Lorenzo Insigne opened the scoring with an effort that improved on his goal in Madrid. After collecting the ball at the left side of the area, Insigne dribbled in and launched an angled shot around two defenders that flew inside the far post.

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik slotted another into an empty net and Piotr Zielinski made it 3-0 before the hour mark.

Riccardo Meggiorini pulled one back for Chievo midway through the second half.

Napoli moved into second place, one point ahead of Roma, which was facing Torino later.

OTHER MATCHES:

Attack-minded Zdenek Zeman made an immediate impact on last-placed Pescara, which routed Genoa 5-0 in the Czech coach’s first match back in charge since leading the club to the Serie B title five years ago.

Substitute Gregoire Defrel scored twice as Sassuolo came back from a goal down to beat Udinese 2-1 after Seko Fofana’s spectacular volley had put the hosts ahead.

Also, Mauricio Isla gave Cagliari an early lead before Fabio Quagliarella equalized for Sampdoria midway through the first half in a 1-1 draw.

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf