Douglas Costa

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Serie A: Juve’s title stranglehold looks looser after loss to Lazio

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ROME (AP) Juventus’ stranglehold on the Serie A title for six straight seasons looks at risk of being broken.

The Bianconeri were beaten by Lazio for the second time this season on Saturday, falling 2-1 at home after conceding two goals to Ciro Immobile just like in the Italian Super Cup in August.

It’s the second straight match that Juventus has dropped points after drawing with Atalanta 2-2 before the international break.

“We need to work on our lapses in concentration,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “We fought but only in segments. At other times we were too loose.”

League leader Napoli won at Roma 1-0 with a first-half goal from Lorenzo Insigne to open up a five-point advantage over Inter Milan, Juventus and Lazio.

Inter faces AC Milan in the Milan derby on Sunday.

“The lads should enjoy this achievement,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi, who is being mentioned as an eventual replacement if Allegri leaves Juventus. “At the start of the season they said we would finish ninth or 10th. Now people should be talking about us.”

Juventus led 1-0 at halftime courtesy of a rebound goal from Douglas Costa but experienced defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli couldn’t contain Immobile after the break.

Substitute Paulo Dybala came close to rescuing Juventus but was denied first by the post in stoppage time then had a penalty blocked by Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha at the final whistle.

Immobile had no such trouble.

Two minutes into the second half, Luis Alberto set up Immobile to finish a counterattack with a confident, low, angled shot.

Five minutes later, Immobile was at it again in a virtual replay, only this time goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon charged forward and tripped the striker to set up a penalty.

Immobile drilled his spot kick to the right corner as Buffon went the other way.

“This gives us more motivation,” Immobile said. “Lazio has been doing great things since the Super Cup.”

Immobile leads the Serie A scoring chart with 11 in eight matches and also has the best tally in Europe’s top five leagues with 15 in all competitions for Lazio.

Immobile also scored in Italy’s 1-0 win over Israel last month and national coach Gian Piero Ventura will be hoping he stays in form for a World Cup qualifying playoff next month.

Juventus, meanwhile, will have to take a long look at its once-vaunted defense after relinquishing a lead for the second straight game.

The Turin club had been undefeated for 57 home matches in all competitions.

An involuntary assist from Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi set up Napoli’s goal.

Midway through the first half, De Rossi accidentally set up Insigne with only the goalkeeper to beat and the diminutive Italy forward took advantage to score his 100th career goal.

Kostas Manolas, Roma’s top defender, exited with an apparent injury early in the second half and Napoli goalkeeper preserved the clean sheet by blocking a header from Federico Fazio.

It was the first league match this season in which Napoli didn’t score at least three goals.

Still, the Partenopei remain on course for their first title since 1990, when Diego Maradona played.

Napoli visits Manchester in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Roma visits Chelsea a day later and Juventus hosts Sporting Lisbon.

Brazil winger Douglas Costa ready to give Juventus a boost

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Brazil winger Douglas Costa is ready to provide a boost to a Juventus squad that has lost two key players in the transfer market.

[ VIDEO: Costa parties in Atletico shirt

Costa was presented Monday after joining Juventus on a season-long loan from Bayern Munich for 6 million euros ($7 million). The deal requires the Italian champion to purchase his full rights within a year for 40 million euros ($45 million).

Costa says, “I hope to adapt quickly. …This is the perfect club for me at the perfect moment. This project has enormous potential and I am excited to play a part in that. With the World Cup next summer too, this was the ideal chance for me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Defender Leonardo Bonucci is in the process of transferring from Juventus to rival AC Milan, while fullback Dani Alves left for Paris Saint-Germain.

Even with Juventus having lost this year’s Champions League final, Costa says he’s “sure to have joined the squad at the right time,” adding that he wants to provide “many assists” for forward Gonzalo Higuain.

Reports: Douglas Costa close to Juventus move

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According to multiple reports in Germany and Italy, Bayern Munich winger Douglas Costa is headed to Juventus on a permanent basis.

The 26-year-old Brazilian has been in and out of the Bayern squad, but now may get a move to the Italian champions. Sky Sports Germany claims that a move is imminent, although haggling over a transfer fee is ongoing. Sky Sports Italy has also run the story, claiming that Juventus will pay around $45 million, with the fee spread out over two years.

[ MORE: Saturday Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

In order to delay the total cost, Juve will reportedly take Costa on loan first for two years at a fee of $12 million fee, with an obligation to purchase at the end of the loan for $33 million. Juventus and Bayern are known for doing business in this way in both directions, doing the same with both KLingsley Coman and Medhi Benatia in the past.

Costa made 23 Bundesliga appearances last season, but only 14 of those were starts. He scored four goals and assisted six others, but struggled to break into the squad with manager Carlo Ancelotti preferring Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery out wide, or choosing a lineup without wingers and having his full-backs press high.

UCL: Arsenal embarrassed, loses 10-2 on aggregate

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  • Walcott gives early hope
  • Koscielny sent off, 54′
  • Lewandowski converts PK
  • Brace for Vidal
  • Robben, Costa also score

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski eliminated all Arsenal hope when he won and converted a penalty kick in a 5-1 win in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match-up at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

Arsenal had gone ahead 1-0 through Theo Walcott, but still trailed 5-2 on aggregate, when Laurent Koscielny tripped up Lewandowski in the box. Koscielny was shown red.

The final score was 10-2 on aggregate, and the 5-1 home loss was the worst home blowout in Arsenal’s European history.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

A couple of chances went by the wayside before Arsenal went in front through Walcott. Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer was prepared for a low shot, and Walcott ripped a high attempt that Neuer could only parry into the goal.

Arturo Vidal fouled Hector Bellerin in nodding a cross at David Ospina, as Bayern looked for a quick answer.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]

Walcott had a very similar chance from a tighter angle, and blasted the contested shot off the outside of the net.

Robert Lewandowski missed a 38th minute chance to put the tie to bed when he mishit Arjen Robben’s looped pass wide of Ospina’s goal.

For as lopsided a score line as it was, Arsenal had plenty of chances to narrow it. Olivier Giroud nearly headed an Aaron Ramsey cross past Neuer in the 48th minute, putting it just over the bar.

Bayern came close to leveling the leg when Mats Hummels raced onto a free kick to redirect the ball past Ospina, but replays showed he was correctly ruled offside.

Lewandowski then worked Nacho Monreal to get free on goal, and was taken down by Laurent Koscielny. It began as a yellow card but was upgraded to a red for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

Arsenal would be down a man before it went down 6-2, which it did when Lewandowski bested Ospina.

Robben then looked to work a 1-2 with Lewandowski before beating Alexis Sanchez to the business end. Ospina couldn’t stop Robben’s shot, and it was 7-2.

It certainly could’ve gotten worse. Costa roasted Bellerin and squared the ball into the six where Lewandowski’s sliding effort spun off the far post.

Costa got his goal in the 78th minute when he cut around Montreal to beat a flying Ospina. And the goalkeeper was faced with a 2-on-0 when Lewandowski deferred to Vidal for a chipped finish. It wasn’t the last 2-on-0. Costa fed Vidal in the 85th minute to complete the bloodbath.

Bayern back on top of Bundesliga before massive Leipzig showdown

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BERLIN (AP) Douglas Costa’s fine second-half strike was enough for Bayern Munich to return to the top of the Bundesliga with a labored 1-0 win at bottom side Darmstadt on Sunday.

Bayern leads on goal difference from promoted Leipzig before the sides meet in Munich on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Chelsea go 9 points clear; Man Utd streaking ]

It seemed the defending champions were already looking ahead to the next game as they produced an uninspired performance against Darmstadt, which had fired coach Norbert Meier on Monday after six straight losses.

“It wasn’t FC Bayern,” goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.

The home side made a bright start under interim coach Ramon Berndroth. Bayern needed Thiago Alcantara to make a last-ditch block to deny Sandro Sirigu on a counterattack prompted by Arturo Vidal’s wayward pass seconds after kickoff.

Jan Rosenthal went close for the hosts after a corner minutes later and Bayern didn’t threaten until the 40th, when Mats Hummels’ penalty appeal went unheeded. TV replays showed the Germany defender was fouled by Mario Vrancic. Thomas Mueller drew a save from Michael Esser in the Darmstadt goal early in the second half.

But Bayern looked short of ideas against the hard-working Darmstadt, which was running more and restricting the visitors’ space. Another lost ball from Vidal had coach Carlo Ancelotti throw his hands up in exasperation on the sidelines. The Chilean midfielder made way for Franck Ribery with over 20 minutes remaining.

[ MORE: La Liga — Messi dazzles as Barcelona cruise past Espanyol ]

A moment of individual brilliance was needed for the breakthrough and it came from Costa in the 71st, when the Brazilian let fly with a superb swerving strike from 25 meters (yards) into the goal off the underside of the crossbar.

Peter Niemeyer should have equalized from the rebound when Neuer stopped Jerome Gondorf’s free kick but the Darmstadt defender headed straight back at the Bayern `keeper with the goal beckoning.

“In the end the most important thing is to win and stay first. So I’m satisfied,” Ancelotti said. “But we can play better and faster. We’ll give our best against Leipzig on Wednesday.”

In Sunday’s other Bundesliga match, Ingolstadt earned a much-needed victory at Bayer Leverkusen.

[ MORE: Serie A — Juventus beat 2nd-place Roma, go 7 points clear ]

Previously bottom Ingolstadt climbed above Hamburger SV into the relegation playoff place with its second successive win, while Leverkusen fans whistled their side off at halftime and again at full time in frustration.

Alfredo Morales put the visitors in front midway through the first half with a powerful header from Markus Suttner’s fine cross.

It got worse for Leverkusen early in the second half when Charles Aranguiz earned his second yellow card for a check on Anthony Jung after losing the ball.

But the sending off seemed to spur a response from the home side, which equalized in the 63rd through Admir Mehmedi just after Almog Cohen should have scored at the other end.

The Israeli midfielder atoned for his miss with what proved to be the winner 10 minutes later.