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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.

VIDEO: El Shaarawy scores rocket 40 seconds into Champions League match

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Roma took a stunning early lead at home against Chelsea in their Champions League group stage match on a goal just 40 seconds into the game.

Federico Fazio (again?!) delivered a gorgeous ball from the left flank, and Edin Dzeko was there to meet it. Instead of putting a speculative effort on net, the Roma striker instead flicked it back into the path of a sprinting Stephan El Shaarawy, who ripped a howitzer into the back of the net with the outside of his foot.

The goal at the time put Roma above Chelsea in the Group C standings, should the result hold.

There were a number of Chelsea culprits on the play. Cesc Fabregas let Fazio deliver the ball with minimal pressure on the wing. Dzeko split between Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz to make his run, while the latter defender failed to pressure on Dzeko’s header, instead sagging back anticipating the striker to collect the ball. Finally, Marcos Alonso was beated to Dzeko’s header by El Shaarawy, and did little to challenge the shot.

It’s this kind of lackluster defending that has seen Chelsea struggle of late. The Blues had conceded eight goals in their last five matches coming into today with just one clean sheet along that span.

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

Chelsea 3-3 Roma – Thrills at the Bridge

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  • Luiz, Hazard put Chelsea up 2-0
  • Kolarov, Dzeko brace flip lead
  • Hazard nabs equalizer
  • U.S. U-20 mid Scott on bench for Chelsea

Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea overcame the sacrifice of a 2-0 lead and the Blues drew AS Roma 3-3 at Stamford Bridge in UEFA Champions League action on Wednesday.

David Luiz also scored for Chelsea. Ex-Man City men Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov starred for Roma, with Dzeko scoring twice and Kolarov adding a goal and an assist.

Chelsea has seven points to lead Group C, two more than Roma and five ahead of third-placed Atletico Madrid. The sides will meet again in Rome on Halloween.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan, USSF prez? ]

Luiz started the scoring with a delightful strike. Call it a second bite at the proverbial apple if you must, but then admit he sunk his teeth into it.

Eden Hazard made a darting run to double Chelsea’s lead, but Kolarov pulled Roma within one with a deflected strike past Thibaut Courtois.

Diego Perotti curled a shot that hardly troubled Courtois in the 63rd minute, the Chelsea keeper just leaving his feet collect it.

Dzeko and Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Then the former Man City striker struck again, seeing a long diagonal ball over his shoulder and whizzing a perfect left-footed volley through the flailing arms of Courtois.

Dzeko then made a late move before a Kolarov free kick to lose his mark and nod home a go-ahead goal.

It wasn’t over, as Hazard found his way to space and a cross from Pedro.

The Belgian headed his chance beyond a diving Alisson, and it was 3-3 with 15 minutes to play.

American-English midfielder Kyle Scott did not make his Chelsea bow. The 19-year-old has represented England at the U-16 level and the U.S. at the U-18 and U-20 levels.

Serie A: Juve’s title stranglehold looks looser after loss to Lazio

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ROME (AP) Juventus’ stranglehold on the Serie A title for six straight seasons looks at risk of being broken.

The Bianconeri were beaten by Lazio for the second time this season on Saturday, falling 2-1 at home after conceding two goals to Ciro Immobile just like in the Italian Super Cup in August.

It’s the second straight match that Juventus has dropped points after drawing with Atalanta 2-2 before the international break.

“We need to work on our lapses in concentration,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “We fought but only in segments. At other times we were too loose.”

League leader Napoli won at Roma 1-0 with a first-half goal from Lorenzo Insigne to open up a five-point advantage over Inter Milan, Juventus and Lazio.

Inter faces AC Milan in the Milan derby on Sunday.

“The lads should enjoy this achievement,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi, who is being mentioned as an eventual replacement if Allegri leaves Juventus. “At the start of the season they said we would finish ninth or 10th. Now people should be talking about us.”

Juventus led 1-0 at halftime courtesy of a rebound goal from Douglas Costa but experienced defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli couldn’t contain Immobile after the break.

Substitute Paulo Dybala came close to rescuing Juventus but was denied first by the post in stoppage time then had a penalty blocked by Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha at the final whistle.

Immobile had no such trouble.

Two minutes into the second half, Luis Alberto set up Immobile to finish a counterattack with a confident, low, angled shot.

Five minutes later, Immobile was at it again in a virtual replay, only this time goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon charged forward and tripped the striker to set up a penalty.

Immobile drilled his spot kick to the right corner as Buffon went the other way.

“This gives us more motivation,” Immobile said. “Lazio has been doing great things since the Super Cup.”

Immobile leads the Serie A scoring chart with 11 in eight matches and also has the best tally in Europe’s top five leagues with 15 in all competitions for Lazio.

Immobile also scored in Italy’s 1-0 win over Israel last month and national coach Gian Piero Ventura will be hoping he stays in form for a World Cup qualifying playoff next month.

Juventus, meanwhile, will have to take a long look at its once-vaunted defense after relinquishing a lead for the second straight game.

The Turin club had been undefeated for 57 home matches in all competitions.

An involuntary assist from Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi set up Napoli’s goal.

Midway through the first half, De Rossi accidentally set up Insigne with only the goalkeeper to beat and the diminutive Italy forward took advantage to score his 100th career goal.

Kostas Manolas, Roma’s top defender, exited with an apparent injury early in the second half and Napoli goalkeeper preserved the clean sheet by blocking a header from Federico Fazio.

It was the first league match this season in which Napoli didn’t score at least three goals.

Still, the Partenopei remain on course for their first title since 1990, when Diego Maradona played.

Napoli visits Manchester in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Roma visits Chelsea a day later and Juventus hosts Sporting Lisbon.