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Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy


TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

Report: Man City launching massive bid for AC Milan’s Donnarumma

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Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly established himself as the best young goalkeeper in European soccer, and AC Milan won’t be letting the 18-year-old go without a pretty penny in return.

[ MORE: Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying ]

According to Sky Sport Italia, Manchester City is preparing a massive bid in the range of $130 to $160 million to acquire the AC Milan shot-stopper as the English side’s goalkeeping situation is still unsettled.

The Citizens have failed to hunker down at the goalkeeper position this season despite spending big to bring in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who has underperformed. Willy Caballero has also been shaky at times for the English giants, while on-loan keeper Joe Hart will almost certainly move on from the club over the summer.

Donnarumma is currently second in Serie A in saves (110), trailing only Crotone’s Alex Cordaz, who has stopped two more shots.

Since turning professional in 2015, Donnarumma has quickly enjoyed his rise through Italian football for both AC Milan and with the national team. After previously featuring for the Under-15, U-17 and U-21 sides, Donnarumma has established himself as the surefire replacement for Gianluigi Buffon once he retires from the international game.

Italy’s Ventura calls in youth for games against Albania, Netherlands

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura is counting on his youngsters.

Ventura has not been afraid to bring in new players since he took charge after the 2016 European Championship, including giving teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma his debut.

“We all remember when I said there was a crop of youngsters who would need to be taken care of to build an important national team for the future,” Ventura said. “If we qualify for the World Cup then we could be a surprise because there is a huge hunger in these young players.”

Ventura has also organized two training camps to have a closer look at other young players, with a third planned for May.

“The young players must live, breath and experience the national team, only then will they be ready for important challenges,” he said. “We are convinced that the youngsters will be the future and we are giving them time to grow.

“(Andrea) Petagna and (Leonardo) Spinazzola have gone from the training camp to the full team. But It’s not enough to be young, you also have to have potential. Of course some guys have fulfilled expectations, others have stopped.”

Only the nine European group winners are guaranteed to reach the World Cup, while the eight best runners-up face a playoff. Italy is level on points with Spain at the top of Group G but second on goal difference.

“The primary concern is qualifying, seeing as it’s the first time that only one team goes through and we’re not at the top of the standings,” Ventura said. “To qualify we need the youngsters but also the experience of those less young.”

Italy and Spain, which drew 1-1 in Turin, are next scheduled to meet on Sept. 2. Before that, Italy faces Liechtenstein on June 11 and Albania in Palermo on Friday. Italy also visits the Netherlands for a friendly international next Tuesday.

“The result is extremely important,” Ventura said. “We are aware it will be a delicate match and that will allow us to go to Spain to obtain something concrete.

“I am calm because after three months I have again found a group of players who are ready to give their all.”

Serie A: Hart’s howlers help Inter to draw with Torino; AC Milan win

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MILAN (AP) Joe Hart gifted Inter Milan both of its goals but Torino managed to draw 2-2 in Serie A on Saturday and damage Inter’s bid for a Champions League place.

Hart’s first mistake allowed Geoffrey Kondogbia to score. Torino fought back with goals from Daniele Baselli and Afriyie Acquah. However, another error from the England goalkeeper saw Antonio Candreva level.

“This draw is like a defeat,” Candreva said. “Our rivals who are ahead of us in the standings are running strongly, and now we have to try to win all of the matches.”

Inter remained fifth and was five points behind third-placed Napoli and the final qualifying position for Europe’s premier club competition.

“We’re not happy, we made a mistake in how we approached the match,” Inter coach Stefano Pioli said. “There are many regrets, especially at the end, there were chances to win the match.”

Napoli visits Empoli on Sunday. On the same day, Atalanta, which lost 7-1 at the San Siro last weekend, can move level with Inter with a win over Pescara.

The match had been hyped as a fight between Serie A’s top goalscorers. Torino and Italy forward Andrea Belotti led with 22, two more than Inter captain Mauro Icardi.

Icardi had the ball in the back of the net in the eighth minute but he was ruled offside on Ever Banega’s through ball.

Inter did go in front when Kondogbia’s effort squirmed between Hart’s hands.

Its lead lasted just six minutes before Baselli was left unmarked to head in after a corner was flicked on by Cristian Molinaro.

Belotti may not have got on the scoresheet but he helped set up Torino’s second with a cross-field pass to Juan Iturbe, who pulled back for Acquah to curl into the top left corner in the 59th.

Torino’s lead lasted even less than Inter’s as the visitors leveled three minutes later when Hart completely missed a cross and Candreva fired into an empty net.

Hart made some amends with a great save to keep out Eder‘s effort with nine minutes remaining.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Juventus 28 23 1 4 58 19 39 15-0-0 8-1-4 70
 Roma 28 20 2 6 61 25 36 12-0-1 8-2-5 62
 Napoli 28 18 6 4 65 30 35 10-3-2 8-3-2 60
 Lazio 28 17 5 6 50 30 20 10-2-3 7-3-3 56
 Inter Milan 29 17 4 8 55 31 24 10-2-2 7-2-6 55
 AC Milan 29 16 5 8 42 32 10 10-2-3 6-3-5 53
 Atalanta 28 16 4 8 43 33 10 9-1-3 7-3-5 52
 Fiorentina 28 12 9 7 45 37 8 7-7-0 5-2-7 45
 Sampdoria 28 11 8 9 35 33 2 8-4-2 3-4-7 41
 Torino 29 10 10 9 54 48 6 8-5-1 2-5-8 40

AC Milan maintained its push for Europe with its fourth win in five matches in Serie A.

Mati Fernandez scored his first Milan goal to send his side sixth, two points below its city rival Inter.

It didn’t start out well for the Rossoneri as Andrea Bertolacci pulled up hurt in the opening minute and had to be replaced by Manuel Locatelli.

The teenager almost had an immediate impact but his effort flew narrowly wide.

Lucas Ocampos nearly scored against his old team with a shot that was acrobatically cleared off the line by Genoa defender Armando Izzo.

Mati Fernandez broke the deadlock shortly after the half hour, running onto Gianluca Lapadula’s backheeled flick and dinking it over goalkeeper Eugenio Lamanna.

Video: Davide Moscardelli delivers stunner for third-tier Italian club

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Davide Moscardelli has made his way throughout Italian football throughout his career, and he likely scored one of his best goals on Saturday.

The 37-year-old striker picked up the ball near midfield in the first-half of this Arezzo’s match against Livorno in Italy’s Lega Pro A division, and what came next was simply fantastic.

Moscardelli managed to escape two defenders, before launching a lofted, left-footed effort from distance that left goalkeeper Luca Mazzoni stranded.

From there, Arezzo held on for the 1-0 victory, which moves the club into third place in Italy’s third division.