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Serie A: Juventus hammer Sampdoria to go 6 clear of Napoli

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MILAN (AP) — Juventus took a major step toward a seventh straight Serie A title on Sunday as it beat Sampdoria 3-0 after Napoli was held to a 0-0 draw at AC Milan.

Douglas Costa changed the game when he came on for the injured Miralem Pjanic, providing three assists for Mario Mandzukic, Benedikt Hoewedes and Sami Khedira.

Juventus moved six points clear of Napoli with six matches remaining — including the two sides playing each other.

“We have to thank Pjanic for getting injured because maybe at that moment I wouldn’t have changed things,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri joked. “Douglas and (Gonzalo) Higuain are two players who I wanted to use to change the match. I chose the Brazilian to stretch Samp.”

Roma hit the woodwork twice but drew 0-0 against 10-man Lazio in an intense derby match which was crucial for both teams’ Champions League chances.

The top four from Serie A qualify for Europe’s premier club competition. Roma and Lazio are third and fourth, respectively, on the same number of points. They are one point above fifth-place Inter Milan, which drew 0-0 at Atalanta on Saturday.


Juventus was looking to bounce back from the disappointment of Wednesday’s Champions League exit to Real Madrid, decided by a stoppage-time penalty in the second leg when seconds away from forcing extra time at 3-0.

Allegri had mixed feelings about Sunday’s win.

“Is it a decisive step toward the title? Absolutely not. But it was important to win after Madrid and the guys were good because it wasn’t easy after such a tiring match,” Allegri said.

Juventus struggled to find a way through the Samp defense and the visitors almost took the lead but Gianluigi Buffon, who was sent off midweek, managed to parry a close-range header from Fabio Quagliarella.

Pjanic limped off two minutes before the break and was replaced by Douglas Costa who had an instant impact as he whipped in a cross for Mandzukic to volley in under the bar.

Juventus doubled its lead on the hour. The ball was passed from the right to the left of the penalty area and Douglas Costa set up a diving header from an unmarked Hoewedes on only his second match for the club.

Douglas Costa was again decisive 15 minutes later with another cross for Khedira to fire into the bottom left corner.

The Brazil midfielder almost capped his performance with a goal but fired narrowly wide of the left post late on.


Rossoneri goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made history as the youngest ever player to reach 100 Serie A appearances, at 19 years, 1 month, 21 days, and he proved decisive in denying Napoli a last-gasp winner.

It was a strange match for Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who has agreed a free transfer to Milan at the end of the season.

Reina was immediately called into action against his future teammates, fingertipping an effort from Giacomo Bonaventura around the base of the post.

Lorenzo Insigne went close to giving Napoli the lead 10 minutes before halftime, weaving his way through defenders before curling an effort inches wide of the right post.

Milan thought it had taken the lead four minutes later but Mateo Musacchio was offside when he fired in a rebound after Reina had parried Hakan Calhanoglu’s powerful effort.

The match continued to be open after the break, with both sides seeking the win they needed for their respective ambitions.

Napoli came agonizingly close to snatching a stoppage-time winner as Arkadiusz Milik had time and space to control before shooting from six yards but Donnarumma pulled off a stunning save to send the ball around his left post.

Open Cup draw postponed as Portland protests LAFC win

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw is not going as planned, as the Portland Timbers protest the roster of victorious LAFC.

[ RECAP: Four USOC semifinalists minted ]

Philadelphia, Chicago, and Houston were the other sides to get a place in the final four teams.

LAFC’s victory had already been marred by Adama Diomande‘s claims of a racial slur hurled his way, and now their victory may be in question altogether as U.S. Soccer issued a press release saying Thursday’s scheduled draw was postponed.

From a U.S. Soccer press release:

The decision comes as a result of a protest filed by the Portland Timbers in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal at Banc of America Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

The rule says a maximum five players without green cards can be in the 18. Portland started only two Americans, Jeff Attinella and Zarek Valentin, but have green cards for many others and rules are rules.

Will the Timbers take a semifinal berth via protest?

Zlatan explains tough second season at Old Trafford

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic at his most humble is still a man riding his ego through the clouds.

The LA Galaxy striker gave an interview to the BBC in which he detailed why his second season at Manchester United didn’t go according to plan.

[ USMNT: More accolades for Pulisic ]

Ibrahimovic, 36, said his “mind was ready” but his knee was not when he followed up a 28-goal, 10-assist debut at Old Trafford with just seven appearances with one League Cup goal.

From the BBC:

“When I was ready, I said to myself ‘I am not there’,” he said. “They had a Zlatan before. After, I was not ready to be that Zlatan. I was selected in many of the games but I told the coach: ‘Listen, I am not ready. I don’t want to disappoint you. The respect I have for my team-mates and the coach. Select someone else who can do the job better.’ I stood up and did it, even if I am Zlatan.”

How’s that for humble? There’s only one Zlatan…

Report: Bristol City offers $4m for USMNT GK Steffen

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Championship side Bristol City has lodged a $4 million bid for Columbus Crew and USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen, according to MLS insider Sam Stejskal.

Viewed as a potential long-term American No. 1 for his country, Steffen has thrived at Columbus since returning from a stint at Freiburg in Germany.

[ USMNT: More accolades for Pulisic ]

Stejskal reached Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter, who said multiple teams are interested in Steffen but did not confirm the Bristol City bid. Berhalter said, “We want to be a place where we get players and we develop them and we help them advance in their careers, wherever that may be.”

Steffen, 23, starred at Maryland before making the move abroad. He’s proven a fantastic young pro with a knack for stopping penalty kicks.

Bristol City finished 11th in the Championship last season with 30-year-old goalkeeper Frank Fielding, who had played 153 league matches for the club since 2013 and led the club to promotion from League One in 2015.

Some have openly questioned whether the Championship is a clear upgrade from MLS — don’t count this typer in that group — but this does seem like win-win for Columbus and Steffen if the player wants the move. The Championship has been good for the development of several American players including Tim Ream, DeAndre Yedlin (on loan from a Premier League club), and Lynden Gooch.

Premier League jerseys 2018-19: All the new PL Kits

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There are just a few weeks to go until the new Premier League season kicks off and all 20 teams have released at least one new jersey.

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game ] 

With so many fresh kits out there, it’s tough to pick a favorite but take a good look through all of the new threads below.

These are all of the confirmed new Premier League jerseys for the 2018/19 campaign.


Arsenal


Bournemouth


Brighton & Hove Albion


Burnley


Chelsea


Cardiff City


Crystal Palace


Everton


Fulham


Huddersfield Town


Leicester City


Liverpool


Manchester City


Manchester United


Newcastle United


Southampton


Tottenham Hotspur


Watford


West Ham United


Wolverhampton Wanderers