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Serie A: Napoli make good on Juve’s slip-up, now just 2 back

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

[ MORE: Barcelona still unbeaten after 29 league games; Ronaldo scores 4 ]

Napoli 1-0 Genoa

Juventus slipped up in a big, big way on Saturday, stumbling to a scoreless draw away to tiny SPAL 2013, and opening the door ever so slightly for Napoli. With a win on Sunday, secured by Raul Albiol’s late winner, Napoli now trail Juve by just two points with the two sides level on games played (29) once again.

The victory snapped a two-game winless skid for Napoli, a run which saw them cough up the top spot which they had held for nearly the entire season, and set up perhaps a colossal title decider on April 22, when first hosts second in their quest to claim a seventh straight Serie A title.

Crotone 0-2 Roma

One spot and 14 points further down the table, you’ll find an interesting battle for third, with Roma picking up their third straight win, 2-0 over 18th-place Crotone on Sunday.

Stephan El Shaarawy (38th minute) and Radja Nainggolan (74th) bagged the goals for Roma, who lead Inter Milan by four points with nine games to go (Inter have a game in hand).

Sampdoria 0-5 Inter Milan

No one was more impressive this weekend than Inter, who put four past Sampdoria in the first half, including a hat trick from Mauro Icardi, who would then go on to add his fourth — Inter’s fifth — in the second half. That’s 22 league goals for the Argentine forward, who now trails Lazio’s Ciro Immobile by two in the Golden Boot race.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Lazio 1-1 Bologna
AC Milan 3-2 Chievo
Hellas Verona 0-5 Atalanta
Torino 1-2 Fiorentina
Benevento 1-2 Cagliari

Serie A: Turkish youngster Under fires Roma back into 3rd

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ROME (AP) The rapid development of 20-year-old Turkey winger Cengiz Under is playing a big role in Roma’s revival.

Under scored his fourth goal in three matches and Roma won at Udinese 2-0 for its third straight win in Serie A on Saturday.

Roma moved into third place, two points ahead of Inter Milan, which lost at Genoa 2-0.

It’s a drastic improvement from where Roma was a month ago, when the Giallorossi were mired in a five-match winless streak that risked dropping them out of contention for the Champions League places.

“We’re getting back on track to where we were in the first half of the season,” forward Diego Perotti said.

Roma went ahead when Under unleashed a powerful, rising shot from beyond the area in the 70th.

Perotti sealed the victory in the 90th with an angled effort after Udinese gave the ball away near midfield.

Under is having a breakout month.

First, he scored after 43 seconds when Roma ended a five-match winless streak by beating Hellas Verona 1-0. Then he had a brace and also delivered an assist in a 5-2 win over Benevento last weekend.

All this after not being involved in any goals in his first 14 matches with Roma.

“He plays far more for the team than himself,” Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said of Under. “His greatest strength is being able to prepare his shot with great speed, making him difficult to close down.”

Added Perotti, “He’s very humble and he doesn’t speak Italian yet but he’s well behaved and is a great kid. He deserves all of this.”

On Wednesday, Roma visits Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.

“We’ve got to make the most of the fact they’ve had a winter break and might not be match fit,” Di Francesco said of the Ukrainian side. “They have a lot of quality in attack and are dangerous, but we shouldn’t change our attitude.”


Inter’s defense was in shambles against Genoa.

The hosts took the lead before the break when a failed clearance attempt from Milan Skriniar ricocheted off of a stunned Andrea Ranocchia, who was charged with an own goal.

Then former Inter striker Goran Pandev was left unmarked to score from the center of the area midway through the second half.

Inter hasn’t won at regional rival Genoa in more than seven years.

Chievo Verona took a big step toward avoiding relegation with a 2-1 win over visiting Cagliari.

Emanuele Giaccherini and Roberto Inglese scored late for the hosts before Leonardo Pavoletti pulled one back for Cagliari.

Chievo moved up to 14th, level on points with Cagliari, eight points above the drop zone.

Chelsea announce Legends game v. Inter Milan

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LONDON — Chelsea will launch it’s first-ever Legends game against Italian giants Inter Milan this May at Stamford Bridge.

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The game will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their treble winning team from a glittering period for the west London club, as they won the League Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup all in the same year back in 1998.

Inter Forever, a touring group of Inter legends who have played in several matches in the past, will be the opponents on May 18 with proceeds from the game going to the Chelsea Foundation and the past players’ trust.

Dennis Wise, Gianfranco Zola, Gianluca Vialli, Marcel Desailly and other Chelsea greats are all expected to turn out to mark the occasion.

Speaking to Pro Soccer Talk at Chelsea’s Cobham training base about organizing the event, club legend and NBC analyst Graeme Le Saux revealed his excitement at getting the band back together.

“It is a team which is steeped in history at the club and the relationship with the fans and the iconic players of that group as well with Zola, Dennis Wise, Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf, everybody,” Le Saux said. “There were so many characters in that team. Putting it back together and asking them if they’d like to play a 20th anniversary game, a celebration game against Inter Milan, they all bit my hand off. I’m actually quite proud.”

The likes of Javier Zanetti and Youri Djorkaeff will play for Inter, as they were part of the team which beat Lazio in the UEFA Cup final back in 1998.

When asked if the plan was to take these Legends games overseas to the USA, Australia and elsewhere in the future, Le Saux confirmed it is something both he and Chelsea are hoping to do.

“Definitely. The club have definitely got their eye on that as well,” Le Saux said. “This was a moment in time, 20 years, having won the League Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup in 1998, but as a base to then take on a more regular program, absolutely. The club have already intimated that’s what they’re keen to do as well. Inter have got a program called Inter Forever and I think that have over 100 players on their books, so they have got quite a few players to choose from… I’ve been looking under the cushions on the sofa trying to find Gianfranco Zola!”

Another Chelsea legend from the late 1990s, Norwegian forward Tore Andre Flo, told Pro Soccer Talk that he can’t wait to play at Stamford Bridge.

“I’m very excited and I was very happy when I heard about it. I’m a little bit worried about my fitness (Flo taps both hips as he laughs off having two hip replacements in recent months) but I guess I’m not the only one. It’s going to be a lot fun,” Flo said. “At that time of our success, Chelsea, as a club, weren’t use to winning that many things, then suddenly we had a very good team but we struggled maybe with consistency over a period of time so we could beat the best ones but then lose against bottom of the table. We were a bit up and down but when we prepared ourselves properly and went for it 100 percent we could beat anyone. Maybe that’s why we were so good in the cups.”

Inter forced to press through slump without injured Icardi

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Once leading the Italian top flight and seemingly back in a title race for the first time in nearly eight seasons, Inter has faded after a two-month stretch of poor form, and now faces the prospect of saving the season without its leading scorer.

Inter was top of the table after a 5-0 win over Chievo Verona on December 3rd, and sat there after a scoreless draw with Juventus the following week. But now, the club has failed to win since, dropping them all the way back to fourth, a whopping 13 points back of Juventus at the top.

They have lost twice and drawn five in that span, scoring just four goals in their last seven matches. The attack has gone silent, and now they will be without their best goalscorer for the forseable future.

Leading scorer Mauro Icardi, who has 18 goals this season in 22 league matches, but he suffered an injury in training, and the club announced on Wednesday night that scans showed a right adductor strain, meaning Icardi will likely miss some significant time.

The Inter captain has not missed a league game this year, and has hardly even missed a minute, seeing the field for 1,944 out of a possible 1,980 minutes this Serie A season. The next highest scorer this season for the club is Ivan Perisic with seven, followed by 22-year-old center-back Milan Skriniar with three.

West Ham land Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario on loan

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LONDON (AP) Amid a crippling injury crisis, West Ham has signed Joao Mario on loan from Inter Milan after the Portugal international failed to live up to his promise in the Italian league.

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Tuesday ]

The 25-year-old midfielder has joined until the end of the season and could make his debut in an FA Cup match against Wigan on Saturday.

West Ham manager David Moyes has seen attacking midfielders Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini join an injury list that already includes Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho.

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Joao Mario, who can play in a range of midfield positions, joined Inter from Portuguese club Sporting after excelling in Portugal’s European Championship-winning campaign in 2016. He didn’t settle at Inter, which has changed its coach several times since the midfielder’s arrival.