Gonzalo Higuaín

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Serie A: Juventus come back after major scare from Benevento

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MILAN (AP) Last-place Benevento threatened a major shock in Turin before Juventus eventually fought back to win 2-1 Sunday and close the gap on leader Napoli in Serie A.

Benevento had not picked up a single point in its previous 11 league games – the worst start in the division’s history — but took a surprise lead through Amato Ciciretti in the 19th minute.

That lead lasted nearly 40 minutes before Gonzalo Higuain leveled. Juan Cuadrado scored what was to prove the winner in the 65th.

“We went behind with the only shot we allowed our opponents, but we kept our heads. It seemed like a cursed match, the ball didn’t want to go in, but we managed to turn it around,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

“The season is long, we have to maintain the speed of a cruise ship because too many ups and downs are not positive. It will be a battle right until the final day.”

Juventus moved into second spot, a point behind Napoli, which was held 0-0 at Chievo Verona.

Inter slipped to third, two points behind Napoli, after drawing 1-1 at home to Torino.

Lazio was four points behind Napoli after its home match against Udinese was postponed because of heavy rain in the Italian capital.

Juventus was expected to sweep aside bottom Benevento and celebrate this week’s 120th anniversary of the club’s foundation.

The hosts hit the woodwork twice early but Benevento, which had scored just four goals all season, took the lead when Ciciretti curled a stunning free kick around the wall and into the bottom left corner.

Juventus wasted several chances before eventually finding the equalizer in the 57th. Blaise Matuidi headed Mattia De Sciglio’s cross back to Higuain, who volleyed into the top right corner.

And the Bianconeri turned the match around completely eight minutes later when Cuadrado met Alex Sandro‘s cross from the left with a downward header at the far post.


Napoli dropped points for only the second time this season, unable to find a way past a solid Chievo team in a 0-0 stalemate.

Maurizio Sarri’s team was eager to bounce back from Wednesday’s 4-2 defeat to Manchester City and almost certain Champions League elimination.

Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina was out with a back injury, with Luigi Sepe making his first Serie A appearance for the club since 2009.

Sepe was almost embarrassed on the hour mark when Ivan Radovanovic spotted him off his line and tried his luck from 60 yards out, but the goalkeeper scrambled back to reach the ball from under the bar.


Inter had to come from behind to draw 1-1 against Torino and maintain its unbeaten start to the season.

More than 70,000 fans were at San Siro for the lunchtime match.

But they were left stunned when Iago Falque gave Torino the lead on the hour mark, surging between two defenders before blasting the ball into the near bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Joel Obi missed a great chance to double Torino’s lead before substitute Eder fired in the equalizer when Mauro Icardi headed down Ivan Perisic’s cross to the Italy forward.

Inter almost won the match two minutes from time but Matias Vecino’s effort from distance crashed off the crossbar.


Roma set a Serie A record with its 12th consecutive away victory as it won 4-2 at Fiorentina, thanks to two first-half goals from Gerson – his first for the club.

Alessio Romagnoli’s header and a wonderful curler from Suso saw AC Milan win 2-0 at Sassulo, while Spal drew 1-1 at 10-man Atalanta.

Elsewhere, Cagliari beat relegation-threatened Hellas Verona 2-1 to move six points above the drop zone.

Serie A: Higuain fires Juve past Milan; Roma outlast Bologna

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

AC Milan 0-2 Juventus

Gonzalo Higuain bagged a brace on Saturday, as Juventus won their third straight game and continued to apply the pressure to Serie A leaders Napoli (Juve now sit top of the table on goal differential, with Napoli still to play this weekend). It’s been reported (by the press and the naked eye) that Higuain has slimmed down a bit after starting the season in relatively poor form and fitness.

Saturday’s opener came after 23 minutes, when the Argentine quickly touched the ball around one defender and fired low and hard from the top of the 18-yard box. It was Higuain’s 100th goal in Serie A (71 in three seasons for Napoli, 24 in his first season for Juventus, and his fifth thus far in 2017-18).

Higuain scored his sixth of the season to make it 2-0 just after the hour mark — another strike from distance.

AC Milan’s fourth defeat in six league games leaves them 12 points off the top spot, and already nine back of the fourth and final UEFA Champions League spot (having already played one more game than everyone else in the race).

Roma 1-0 Bologna

Roma, another of the half-dozen sides expected to factor into the top-four race, did just enough to top Bologna, courtesy of Stephan El Shaarawy’s 33rd-minute goal, the only one of the game.

Like Juve, it’s a third straight win for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side, which now sits fifth in the table, a point back of fourth-place Lazio and four back of Juve and Napoli.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Benevento vs. Lazio — 7:30 a.m. ET
Napoli vs. Sassuolo — 10 a.m. ET
Crotone vs. Fiorentina — 10 a.m. ET
Sampdoria vs. Chievo — 10 a.m. ET
SPAL vs. Genoa — 10 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. Atalanta — 10 a.m. ET
Torino vs. Cagliari — 3:45 p.m. ET

Higuain left out again as Sampaoli looks to save Argentina

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Argentina faces a pair of make-or-break qualifiers as CONMEBOL wraps up its World Cup qualifying in the upcoming international break. Once again, Gonzalo Higuain will be watching from his couch.

Head coach Jorge Sampaoli has left the Juventus striker off the roster yet again as he looks to keep Argentina afloat in matches against Peru and Ecuador. Higuain has two goals in three matches for Juventus to start the Serie A season, but he has found it hard to make the national team in recent times, appearing in just three of Argentina’s last eight matches. He has not scored for the country since October of 2016. Despite that, his scoring record for Argentina remains high-quality, owning a lifetime record of 31 goals in 69 appearances.

[ MORE: Brazil releases roster ]

In Higuain’s place, the Argentine boss did bring in 24-year-old Inter striker Mauro Icardi who has five goals in Inter’s first three Serie A games this season.

Sampaoli also kept PSG midfielder Javier Pastore off despite selecting the 28-year-old last international break and using him off the bench in both matches. Pastore has two goals in four matches for PSG so far this season, but no assists.

Argentina sits in fifth position – only a playoff spot – and is just one measly point from falling out of qualification altogether. That team on their heels is Chile, with Peru in a surprising fourth place, above Argentina only on goals scored, with the two countries level on points and goal difference.

The biggest issue for Argentina has been its attack, with just 16 goals in 16 qualifying games. They’ve scored just a single goal in their last three matches, drawing blanks against Uruguay and Bolivia.

FULL ROSTER

GK: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Agustin Marchesin (America).

DEF: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Emanuel Mammana (Zenit), German Pezzella (Fiorentina).

MF: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Leandro Paredes (Zenit), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Emiliano Rigoni (Zenit), Alejandro Gomez (Atalanta).

FWD: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).

Serie A: Juventus drop points in Turin derby, need Roma loss for title

Alessandro Di Marco/ANSA via AP
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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Saturday’s Premier League roundup | Sunday preview ]

Juventus 1-1 Torino

A win would have moved Juventus 12 points clear of Roma, who have four games still to play, thus meaning a single point dropped against AC Milan on Sunday would have seen Juve crowned Serie A champions for the sixth straight season. Instead, Massimiliano Allegri’s side drew 9th-place Torino at home and sit just 10 points clear of Roma, who could trim to the gap to seven points tomorrow.

Adem Ljajic put Torino ahead in the 52nd minute, a lead that would remain intact for nearly 40 minutes. Gonzalo Higuain would spoil the party in the 91st minute, though, dashing dreams of a famous derby victory for the visitors, and rescuing a point despite a poor, wasteful performance by Juve (22 shots, 5 on target).

Napoli 3-1 Cagliari

Dries Mertens celebrated his 30th birthday in style on Saturday, bagging a brace either side of halftime (2nd and 49th minutes), as Napoli topped Cagliari at home to go two points clear of Roma in the race for Italy’s second and final automatic place in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Lorenzo Insigne made it 3-0 to the home side in the 67th minute, before Diego Farias grabbed a late consolation goal for Cagliari in the first minute of second-half stoppage time. Napoli are unbeaten in nine league games (just four points dropped in total) and have gained three points on Roma (who have lost twice and drawn once) during that run.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Udinese vs. Atalanta — 6:30 a.m. ET
Lazio vs. Sampdoria — 9 a.m. ET
Genoa vs. Inter Milan — 9 a.m. ET
Sassoulo vs. Fiorentina — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Palermo — 9 a.m. ET
Pescara vs. Crotone — 9 a.m. ET
Empoli vs. Bologna — 9 a.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Roma — 2:45 p.m. ET

UCL: Alves, Higuain lead Juve to 2-0 first leg lead

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Max Allegri is 90 minutes away from leading Juventus to its second UEFA Champions League Final in three seasons.

Gonzalo Higuain scored a pair of away goals for The Old Lady, which went into the Stade Louis II and beat Monaco 2-0 on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Ajax batters Lyon 4-1 in UEL semi ]

The first came after a pair of chances for the hosts, who found that Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon is still pretty darn good.

Dani Alves took advantage of a clever ball from Paulo Dybala, backheeling to the back of the 18 for Higuain to finish with class (WATCH HERE).

Dybala cued up Alves again in the 59th minute, and the longtime Barcelona man sent another stylish ball toward the back door.

Monaco kept pressuring for a goal. Buffon kept being Buffon, and Monaco’s talent attack missed a chance or two itself.