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Andrea Pirlo confirms retirement from NYCFC, playing career

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No party: Andrea Pirlo is calling it a day at New York City FC.

We’ve known this for a while, but Pirlo officially called time on MLS tenure on Monday.

[ MORE: Houston knocks Portland out ]

NYCFC’s comeback attempt fell just short on Sunday when it failed to convert a third goal in a 2-0 second leg win over Columbus (The Crew won the first leg 4-1).

Pirlo issued this statement early Monday, confirming that his retirement from MLS is also his retirement from the playing field.

He’ll go down as a man capable of playing as beautiful a ball as any in soccer history.

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: The Napoli-Juventus title race is getting good

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

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

Napoli 3-1 Sassuolo

Juventus went top of the table on Saturday, courtesy of two Gonzalo Higuain goals in a 2-0 victory over a struggling AC Milan side, just edging past Napoli on goal differential. On Sunday, Napoli responded with a 3-1 victory over 16th-place Sassuolo.

Brazilian midfielder Allan forced a turnover atop Sassuolo’s penalty area and slotted home with ease after 22 minutes, but the visitors hit back through Diego Falcinelli’s powerful header four minutes before halftime.

The scoreline would remain 1-1 for fewer than three full minutes, though, as Jose Callejon helped to bundle the ball over the goal line from a corner kick in the 44th minute. Nine minutes into the second half, Dries Mertens bagged his 10th goal of the season (third this week) to put the game to bed.

After 11 games played, Napoli top the league table on 31 points, three ahead of the six-time defending champs from Turin. The season’s first meeting between the two sides is scheduled for Dec. 1, at Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo.

Benevento 1-5 Lazio

Juventus will actually finish the weekend in third place, level on points with Lazio but behind the capital club on head-to-head results. Simone Inzaghi’s side thrashed newly promoted Benevento on Sunday, after going 3-0 up inside the opening 25 minutes — Bastos, Ciro Immobile and Adam Marusic got the early goals, followed by a fourth from Marco Parolo to make it 4-1.

Sunday’s most notable scorer, however, bagged his goal inside the final five minutes to complete the scoring — former Valencia Fenerbahce Sporting CP Manchester United winger Nani, whom Portugal could very well heavily rely upon at next summer’s World Cup, scored his first goal for the club (and tallied the assist on Parolo’s goal) after coming on as a 71st-minute substitute.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Crotone 2-1 Fiorentina
Sampdoria 4-1 Chievo
SPAL 1-0 Genoa
Udinese 2-1 Atalanta
Torino vs. Cagliari — in progress

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

Buffon to retire at the end of season

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European soccer is losing a loveable superstar.

Legendary Juventus goalkeeper and fan favorite Gianluigi Buffon will indeed retire at the end of the season, according to a number of reports across Europe. Buffon had previously stated publicly that he was “99.9 percent sure that’s how I will go,” but had not confirmed his definite intentions to retire.

The 39-year-old has spent the last 17 seasons at Juventus after moving from Parma, where he started his career. He has 175 caps for the Italian national team, 37 more than anyone else. He serves as captain for both club and country.

Buffon came agonizingly close to winning his first Champions League title last season, reaching the final before his team ultimately fell apart in the second half in a 4-1 loss to Real Madrid. Buffon has reached three Champions League finals, but has never won the competition.

According to the reports, Buffon’s final action will come in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, after which he will hang up his boots. Buffon has won a World Cup in the past, tasting glory with Italy in the 2006 edition.

Buffon won the Best Goalkeeper award at the 2017 FIFA Football Awards on Monday, although the decision was criticized given the list of nominees included struggling Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who was benched, but did not include Manchester United and Spain goalkeeper David De Gea. Buffon previously became the only goalkeeper to ever win the UEFA Footballer of the Year back in 2003.