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Serie A: Mertens scores unreal goal; Napoli, Milan, Juve win (video)

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It’s early but signs of an actual title race in Italy are truly delightful.

Juventus and Napoli remain perfect, with the latter above the former in the Serie A table this early season following Wednesday wins.

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Roma and Atalanta posted blowout wins, while AC Milan won a day after their Milanese rivals Inter needed a 77th minute penalty to draw at Bologna.

Lazio 1-4 Napoli

There were five goals in this one, but the only one you need to witness comes on this unreal shot from an odd angle by the world’s top under-appreciated scorer: Dries Mertens.

Juventus 1-0 Fiorentina

Mario Mandzukic scored the lone goal as The Old Lady slipped further behind Napoli in goal difference.

AC Milan 2-0 SPAL

I Rossoneri scored on a penalty in each half, with new boys Ricardo Rodriguez and Franck Kessie converting the chances.

Benevento 0-4 Roma

Edin Dzeko buried a pair of goals and the hosts gifted i Lupi a pair of own goals.

Elsewhere
Bologna 1-1 Inter Milan — Tuesday
Cagliari 0-1 Sassuolo
Genoa 1-1 Chievo
Verona 0-0 Sampdoria
Udinese 2-3 Torino

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Napoli 5 5 0 0 19 3 16 2-0-0 3-0-0 15
 Juventus 5 5 0 0 14 3 11 3-0-0 2-0-0 15
 Inter Milan 5 4 1 0 11 2 9 2-0-0 2-1-0 13
 AC Milan 5 4 0 1 10 6 4 3-0-0 1-0-1 12
 Torino 5 3 2 0 10 5 5 1-1-0 2-1-0 11
 Lazio 5 3 1 1 10 8 2 1-1-1 2-0-0 10
 Roma 4 3 0 1 9 3 6 1-0-1 2-0-0 9
 Sampdoria 4 2 2 0 6 4 2 1-0-0 1-2-0 8
 Atalanta 5 2 1 2 9 7 2 2-0-1 0-1-1 7
 Fiorentina 5 2 0 3 8 7 1 1-0-1 1-0-2 6
 Cagliari 5 2 0 3 4 6 -2 1-0-1 1-0-2 6
 Chievo 5 1 2 2 5 8 -3 0-1-1 1-1-1 5
 Bologna 5 1 2 2 4 7 -3 0-2-1 1-0-1 5
 SPAL 5 1 1 3 3 8 -5 1-0-1 0-1-2 4
 Sassuolo 5 1 1 3 3 8 -5 0-1-1 1-0-2 4
 Udinese 5 1 0 4 7 10 -3 1-0-2 0-0-2 3
 Genoa 5 0 2 3 5 9 -4 0-1-2 0-1-1 2
 Verona 5 0 2 3 1 11 -10 0-1-2 0-1-1 2
 Crotone 5 0 1 4 1 11 -10 0-1-2 0-0-2 1
 Benevento 5 0 0 5 1 14 -13 0-0-3 0-0-2 0

La Liga & Serie A: Real Madrid cruises, Napoli nets six

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

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Real Sociedad 1-3 Real Madrid

No Ronaldo. No problem for Real. Despite facing a stiff test from Sociedad on Sunday, Los Blancos used its depth to replace its Portuguese star. Borja Mayoral scored the game’s first goal for Real, ironically the 20-year-old’s first La Liga goal, before the home side equalized nine minutes later. The lead was restored in the 36th minute off of a Kevin Rodrigues own goal, while Gareth Bale tacked on the third for Real after the hour mark. Sociedad remains ahead of Madrid in the La Liga table, but the gap is now just one point between the two sides.

Girona 0-1 Sevilla

Sevilla remained unbeaten through the opening four rounds of play on Sunday after facing a difficult road trip to Girona. The hosts had several opportunities throughout the match, but failed to notch a shot on target, which helped Sevilla make them pay. Luis Muriel scored the game’s lone goal in the 69th minute after the forward finished off the Franco Vázquez cross.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Alaves 0-3 Villareal
Las Palmas 1-0 Athletic Bilbao

 


Napoli 6-0 Benevento

When Napoli is clicking, they are a really difficult team to beat. The Serie A leaders remained unbeaten on Sunday after comfortably handling upstarts Benevento behind a Dries Mertens hat-trick. The hosts found the back of the net just three minutes into the match through Allan, before Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon and Mertens each scored before halftime. Napoli now boasts an impressive +13 goal differential after only four matches in domestic play.

Sassuolo 1-3 Juventus

Paulo Dybala’s hat-trick helped give Juventus its fourth win of the new Serie A season to remain level on points with Napoli. For Dybala, the Argentine surpassed the 50-goal mark with the Bianconeri with his first finish, before adding two more goals in the second stanza. Meanwhile, the home side scored almost immediately after Dybala’s second to make the match close, but Sassuolo couldn’t find a second.

Elsewhere in Serie A

AC Milan 2-1 Udinese
SPAL 0-2 Cagliari
Torino 2-2 Sampdoria
Chievo Verona 1-1 Atalanta
Genoa 2-2 Lazio

Serie A: Juventus rest stars ahead of Barca trip, rout Chievo

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus rested top players ahead of the Champions League and still eased to a 3-0 victory over Chievo Verona to maintain its perfect start to the Serie A on Saturday.

Second-half goals from substitute Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain sealed the win after an own goal by Chievo midfielder Perparim Hetemaj.

Juventus visits Barcelona in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday.

“The team was winning when I came on and there were spaces to play in,” Dybala said. “I got up to help Higuain but the team played well and deserved the win.

“We’ll go to Barcelona and give our all.”

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was handed his debut as Gianluigi Buffon was rested.

Dybala also started on the bench, as did Andrea Barzagli and Juan Cuadrado. Giorgio Chiellini, Sami Khedira, Claudio Marchisio and Alex Sandro were out injured.

Juventus took the lead in the 17th minute when Hetemaj headed Miralem Pjanic’s free kick past his own goalkeeper.

Szczesny did well to parry an Ivan Radovanovic effort but Higuain doubled Juve’s lead shortly before the hour, firing Pjanic’s through ball into the top left corner.

That move had been started by Dybala, who came on four minutes earlier, and the Argentina international had chances of his own before getting on the scoresheet seven minutes from time, wending his way through the penalty area before placing the ball into the bottom right corner.

It was Dybala’s seventh goal in four matches for Juventus, including the Super Cup defeat to Lazio.

The only negative note for Juventus was an injury to Mario Mandzukic, who limped off late on and was a doubt for Tuesday’s match.

Roma’s match at Sampdoria was postponed because of bad weather.

Juventus, Monaco executives express support of PL transfer deadline move

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In the wake of the Premier League’s decision to end the 2018 summer transfer window before the season begins, others are taking notice across the rest of Europe.

Both Juventus CEO Guiseppe “Beppe” Marotta and Monaco vice president Vadim Vasilyev spoke in favor of the move, with Marotta even stating that he’d like the rest of Europe to come around to the idea.

“The Premier League’s decision to end the transfer window early is wise,” Marotta said. “Now we have to extend the discussion to a European level.”

One of the issues with the Premier League unilaterally making this move is that teams from other leagues can still buy players off of Premier League clubs until their transfer windows close. If other leagues though take the Premier League’s lead, they could move the transfer deadlines all in line.

“Our English colleagues have made a very good decision today for closing the transfer window before at the start of next season. I am much for that idea,” Vasilyev said.

Germany midfielder Khedira buys 1,200 tickets for charity

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STUTTGART, Germany (AP) Germany midfielder Sami Khedira has bought 1,200 tickets for Monday’s World Cup qualifier against Norway in his native Stuttgart and donated them to charity.

[ MORE: France held by Luxembourg in shocking WCQ draw ]

The tickets have been distributed to socially disadvantaged children and children fighting cancer in the region so they can attend the game through an initiative organized by Khedira’s foundation.

The Juventus midfielder says “it just came about for the national game here in Stuttgart. For me personally, it was important not just to give money, but that the kids themselves could get something from it. Most wouldn’t have had the chance to attend a game for various reasons, financial or logistical.”

Germany will qualify for the World Cup from Group C if it wins and second-place Northern Ireland fails to beat the Czech Republic in Belfast.