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Serie A: Inter’s unbeaten start ends; Hamsik equals Maradona

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan’s unbeaten start to the season was brought to an unlikely end Saturday as the Nerazzurri were defeated 3-1 at home by Udinese and went on to lose top spot in Serie A.

Inter captain Mauro Icardi had canceled out Kevin Lasagna’s opener but Udinese put in an impressive second-half performance and took the lead through Rodrigo De Paul’s penalty before Antonin Barak sealed the result.

Napoli moved two points above Inter and back into the lead after winning 3-1 at Torino, with Marek Hamsik matching Diego Maradona’s scoring record.

“We’re obviously disappointed to have lost,” Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said. “Maybe it hurts a bit more because it’s been a bit of time since our last defeat and we’re not used to it anymore.

“It’s nothing to do with tiredness. The players seemed physically fine to me even in the second half when we made a lot of mistakes. The difference was we played the ball badly in the second half and made a lot of silly mistakes.”

Udinese moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone as its revival under new coach Massimo Oddo continued. Oddo has won three league matches after losing to Napoli in his opening game.

“What has changed since my arrival? No one has a magic wand. We do our work but then it’s the lads who go out onto the pitch,” Oddo said. “There’s still a lot of work to do but we are taking giant steps.

“This team never gives up and always gives everything … I think that winning at San Siro against Inter, which was first and unbeaten, is more due to how good my team was and not that Inter played badly.”

Udinese took the lead in the 14th minute when Silvan Widmer cut inside from the right, dribbled in the area and rolled the ball across for Lasagna to tap in.

However, Inter was back on level terms within a minute as Icardi volleyed home Antonio Candreva’s cross.

Inter dominated the rest of the first half and came close to taking the lead on several occasions but Oddo turned things around at the break, and it was Udinese which was stronger in the second period.

The visitors almost took the lead immediately after the restart but Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic somehow managed to deflect Lasagna’s effort over the bar from point-blank range.

Icardi also came close to doubling his tally but he headed a corner over the bar.

Minutes later Udinese was awarded a penalty for handball – after video review showed the ball had not crossed the line before Widmer’s cross was handled by Davide Santon.

De Paul sent his spot-kick straight down the middle to give Udinese the lead in the 61st.

Milan Skriniar almost leveled shortly after but his header came off the bar.

Udinese wrapped up all three points 13 minutes from time when Barak finished off a brilliant counterattack by heading in Jakub Jankto’s cross.

Marek Hamsik matched Diego Maradona’s all-time record of 115 goals for Napoli.

Hamsik reached that tally after 30 minutes on Saturday, scoring the third goal in Napoli’s 3-1 win at Torino.

Dries Mertens controlled the ball in the area and picked out Hamsik, who volleyed into to top right corner.

It has taken the Slovenia midfielder 11 seasons and 477 appearances to reach that tally, while Maradona, who was a forward, set that mark in 259 games in seven seasons with Napoli.

Kalidou Koulibaly had headed Napoli into the lead in the fourth minute and Piotr Zielinski doubled the visitors’ tally in the 25th.

Andrea Belotti netted a consolation for Torino shortly after the hour mark.

Federico Fazio scored a stoppage-time goal to help fourth-place Roma beat Cagliari 1-0 and remain four points behind Napoli.

The Argentine knew little about the goal, however, as Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno attempted to punch clear a free kick and it ricocheted off Fazio’s stomach and into the back of the net.

Cragno had earlier saved Diego Perotti’s weak penalty after the goalkeeper had fouled Edin Dzeko.

Video review was used on both incidents.

Serie A wrap: Napoli stays top, Roma and AC Milan held

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Napoli remained at the top of the Serie A table, jumping back over Inter with a 1-0 win at Udinese.

The Italian leaders weren’t at their best, but Jorginho dispatched the rebound of a saved penalty past the half-hour mark, and that was enough for the victory. Despite 64% possession, Napoli only managed 9 total shots, four of those on target. Udinese actually out-shot them.

Even the goal was ugly, as Jorginho’s penalty was horrifically misplaced and weak, easily saved by Simone Scuffet. However the goalkeeper disappointingly failed to hold onto the ball, and the 25-year-old midfielder was there to tap in the rebound.

In the end, a win is a win, and Napoli moved back to its two-point lead, leap-frogging Inter who had won 3-1 at Cagliari yesterday.

Elsewhere, Juventus also kept pace with the leaders with a 3-0 demolition of Crotone in Turin. The defending champions held a masterful 81% possession, ripped off 25 shots, and put 10 of those on target. They got second-half goals from Mario Mandzukic, Mattia de Sciglio, and Medhi Benatia.

Mandzukic’s was the opener, his textbook looping header just five minutes after the break. De Sciglio struck eight minutes later, a screamer from outside the box. Benatia finished it off with the easiest goal of his life as a diving Crotone goalkeeper Alex Cordaz saw a cross get by him, leaving the Juventus defender with an empty-net tap-in inches from the goal line.

In Genoa, AS Roma was held to a 1-1 draw that saw them drop to seven points back of Napoli at the top of the table. Roma took the lead just before the hour mark by Stephen El Shaarawy, but Daniele de Rossi was sent off 10 minutes later for slapping Gianluca Lapadula in the box, and Lapadula buried the ensuing penalty for the equalizer.

AC Milan also settled for a point, seeing out a 0-0 result at home against 10th-placed Torino. The draw saw Milan’s record slide to just two wins in their last nine matches despite out-shooting Torino 17-8. The visitors nearly grabbed a win four minutes from full-time as Andrea Belotti saw his header saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma and Iago Falque’s rebound effort was blocked.

Napoli takes commanding Serie A lead after Juventus loss

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Six-time Serie A defending champions Juventus are in trouble. Not a lot, but the heat has been turned up.

A wild 3-2 loss to Sampdoria means the Italian giants are now four points back of Napoli in the Serie A table, and heading into their Champions League matchup with Barcelona, there is plenty of soul-searching to do in Turin.

Juventus nearly mounted what would have been a monumental comeback, down 3-0 heading into stoppage-time but posting goals by Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala in the first and fourth minutes of injury time. It was not to be, and the four-point deficit through 13 games not only leaves Juventus looking at Napoli more than a game in front of them, but also over their shoulders at Roma and Inter Milan both a point behind in third and fourth.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was kept out of the lineup as he continues to deal emotionally with the World Cup miss, and it showed. After a scoreless first half at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Duzan Zapata beat Stephan Lichtensteiner in the air and sent a looping header over a flatfooted Wojciech Szczesny for the opening goal.

With 20 minutes to go, Sampdoria struck again as former Premier League creator Gaston Ramirez fed 21-year-old Lucas Torreira at the top of the box, and with nobody closing him down, he fired into the bottom-left corner of the net. They got the eventual winner nine minutes later after an embarrassing defensive breakdown by the visitors. A free-kick saw two attackers in front of net against five defenders, but somehow Gianmarco Ferrari was completely unmarked in front of the net for a tap-in.

Higuain struck from the penalty spot and Dybala hit on the counter to beat Emiliano Vivaldo at his near post, but it wasn’t enough for Juventus. The defensive frailty will need to be corrected moving forward, as they face a vital match at Napoli on December 1st, and a loss there could spell disaster for their title charge.

Napoli’s Insigne calls Man City “strongest team in Europe”

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Lorenzo Insigne feels stung at Napoli’s 4-2 loss to Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The free-scoring 26-year-old Italian scored off a Dries Mertens assist to give the hosts an early lead, then saw Man City score four of the match’s final five goals.

[ RECAP: Napoli 2-4 Man City ]

That leaves Napoli with just three points through four UCL outings, leaving one of the group favorites with a need to win both of its group stage matches and hope Shakhtar Donetsk loses to visiting Man City on Dec. 6.

Flummoxed is a fair way to put it. From the BBC:

“It’s an unfair result for what we did. It is regrettable because we have put down the strongest team in Europe for much of the race. We always believe, however, I repeat, there is so much regret. At 2-2, their goalkeeper made a great save from Callejon, then we conceded the goal with Aguero.”

Is undefeated Man City the favorite to win the UCL for the first time in history? Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are the only other 4-0 clubs, and PSG have yet to concede, but there’s no doubt Pep Guardiola has the respect and attention of Europe.

As for Napoli, the Europa League should probably get ready for a real treat. Clubs like Napoli don’t often drop into the midseason fray.

Napoli 2-4 Man City: Aguero makes history

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  • Aguero winner breaks club record
  • Insigne, Jorginho score
  • Otamendi, Stones, Sterling too

Sergio Aguero’s 178th Manchester City goal set a club record, and clinched a berth for his side in the knockout rounds of UEFA Champions League with a 3-2 win over Napoli in Italy.

Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Otamendi, and John Stones also scored for Man City, who trailed 1-0 on a Lorenzo Insigne goal. Jorginho converted a penalty for Napoli’s other marker.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

Dries Mertens used a deft touch to spring Insigne on Ederson, and the diminutive Italian pushed the ball beyond the keeper’s reach to make it 1-0.

Man City leveled with 15 minutes, as Otamendi leapt higher than a trio of his teammates to head Ilkay Gundogan‘s cross home from the back post.

City took its first lead early in the second half, with Leroy Sane’s cross meeting John Stones’ noggin. The bar-down attempt just crossed the line, and the visitors were in the driver’s seat.

Jorginho leveled with a penalty, which Sane conceded with a foul on Raul Albiol.

But City would rebound well, with Aguero finishing a second half chance before Sterling put the cherry on top via a Kevin De Bruyne feed.

[ LIVE: Champions League scoreboard ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]