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Serie A: Napoli handed title lifeline, throw it away a day later

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ROME (AP) Napoli’s title hopes were dealt a severe blow with a 3-0 loss at Fiorentina on Sunday that leaves Juventus with a clear path toward a record-extending seventh straight Serie A championship.

Napoli played most of the match with 10 men after Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off for a last-man foul on Giovanni Simeone, who went on to score a hat trick.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri called it his squad’s “worst match of the season.”

After Koulibaly’s red card and Fiorentina’s first goal “we were completely lost,” Sarri said. “Over the course of the season we’ve done well to handle these types of problems but today we didn’t.”

Napoli was left four points behind Juventus with three matches to play – the same gap which existed until the Partenopei beat Juventus a week ago.

Juventus produced two goals in the final four minutes of a 3-2 win at 10-man Inter Milan on Saturday.

However, Juventus will have to overcome an injury to striker Mario Mandzukic, who had 10 stitches applied to a deep cut in his left ankle after getting stepped on by Matias Vecino against Inter.

In Florence, Koulibaly was first shown a yellow and a penalty was awarded since the referee believed the foul had occurred inside the area. But after VAR help, the referee ruled that the foul had occurred outside the area and changed the card from yellow to red.

Simeone, the son of Atletico Madrid coach and former Argentina international Diego Simeone, finished off a counterattack later in the first half by shooting under the legs of goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Then after the hour mark, Simeone was quickest to a rebound following a corner and scored from close range. He then added another from a counterattack in the 90th, running past a confused Mario Rui for his 13th of the season.

“Clearly, having an extra man after eight minutes was a huge advantage,” Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli said. “We had the right ideas even with 11 against 11, but we should have scored more goals earlier on.

“We knew Napoli could be dangerous, so we tried to pass the ball and never stopped pressing,” Pioli added. “There’s no such thing as a perfect performance, but I think we came pretty close.”

Fiorentina is ninth, four points below the Europa League spots.


AC Milan ended a five-match winless streak with a 2-1 victory at Bologna to revive its pursuit of a Europa League spot.

Hakan Calhanoglu and Giacomo Bonaventura scored in the first half for the Rossoneri, which had lost two and drawn three since beating Chievo in mid-March.

Milan remained one point behind sixth-place Atalanta, which beat Genoa 3-1, in the fight for the last Europa League spot.

Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso didn’t give his squad any days off this week following a 1-0 loss at home against Bologna last weekend, acknowledging that the club had “touched bottom.”

Calhanoglu was set up by Patrick Cutrone to score from beyond the area in the 34th.

Bologna thought it had equalized four minutes later but what would have been Riccardo Orsolini’s first Serie A goal was waved off by the VAR for a handball in the buildup by Rodrigo Palacio.

Bonaventura then took advantage of a defensive mistake and fooled his marker before firing in an angled shot.

Sebastian De Maio pulled one back for Bologna with a header after the break.

Musa Barrow, Bryan Cristante and Josip Ilicic scored for Atalanta.

Lazio won 1-0 at Torino to stay level on points with third-place Roma and on course for a Champions League berth.

Roma and Lazio are each four points ahead of Inter.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored with a header early in the second half for Lazio after Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu saved an early penalty from Luis Alberto.

Man Utd set to add $20m Swans winger James

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Manchester United’s first signing of the summer will be a Welsh international forward, but not that one, presuming the clubs sort out the transfer fee.

Swansea City winger Daniel James has agreed to terms with United, according to Sky Sports.

The 21-year-old is expected to cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s men about $20 million.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

James scored five times with 10 assists for Graham Potter in all competitions this season, totaling 2800 minutes for Swans.

Only Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish was fouled more per game than James, who was taken to the turf 2.7 times per match. He mostly played on the left wing this season.

Twice-capped by Wales, James turns 22 in November. How long will it take him to make the jump from Championship star to Premier League contributor?

Martinez names Kompany in Belgium squad

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Roberto Martinez is going to suit up a manager as Belgium fights to qualify for EURO 2020.

Okay, okay, that manager is Anderlecht player-manager Vincent Kompany, mere days removed from sealing a domestic treble for Manchester City.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

Kompany, 33, has been called up by Belgium for the first time since November. He has 87 caps with four goals for the Red Devils, and perhaps the nickname will be a little less awkward now that he’s not a member of the Premier League’s “noisy neighbors.”

Here’s what Martinez had to say about Kompany’s inclusion.

“In modern football it is not easy to combine the job of player and coach,” Martinez added. “In England they have a tradition of that but less and less because the job of coach has become enormously demanding. We must give him time. We will support him in everything he does.”

Belgium is in a qualifying group with Russia, Cyprus, Scotland, Kazakhstan, and San Marino, and should waltz into the tournament.

USMNT dates to host Cuba, Canada revealed

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MIAMI (AP) The United States will host Cuba on Oct. 11 and Canada on Nov. 15 in the first CONCACAF Nations League.

CONCACAF said Tuesday that the Americans, seeded in Group A, will play at Canada on Oct. 15 and at Cuba on Nov. 19.

Sites have not been determined.

Other Nations League groups are:

B – Bermuda, Mexico, Panama

C – Martinique, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago

D – Costa Rica, Curacao, Haiti

The top team in each League A group advances to the semifinals in March, and the last-place team is relegated to League B.

The U.S. intends to play exhibitions on the September FIFA dates for national teams.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Five players Man United should sign

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Manchester United need a massive rebuild this summer.

Everybody knows it.

Their manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward have both spoken publicly about their desire to strengthen the squad, with Solskjaer aiming to bring in young, hungry players to the club. Something drastic has to change.

But which five players should United make their top targets this summer as they aim to push their way back into the top four of the Premier League?

Even though United have been through struggles in recent seasons, the allure of playing for one of the most popular clubs on the planet and dragging them back to the top of the game will attract plenty of players. So too will the fact that United’s finances allows them to pay top dollar.

Here’s a look at five players they have to sign this summer to complete the dramatic rebuild they need.


Joao Felix (Benfica, release clause of $133 million)
The 19-year-old attacking midfielder will provide goals and assists and he has shone in Portugal. The last time United were off the pace a little in the PL, they plucked a bright young talent from Portugal called Cristiano Ronaldo. That worked out pretty well. Felix may never reach Ronaldo’s heights, but the fact Man City and Real Madrid want to sign him says it all.


Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham, release clause of $32 million)
Doesn’t really fit into the “young and hungry” category, but the Belgian defender would add a steadying influence to United’s defense. At 30 years old Alderweireld is set for one big final pay day in his career and that is why he has such a small release clause in his contract after Spurs had to trigger a one-year extension. His displays for Spurs over the past few years have been consistency excellent.


Harry Maguire (Leicester, valued at $100 million)
At 26 years old Maguire is still to enter his prime. That is wild considering how well he has played for Leicester and England over the past two seasons. He almost joined United last summer but decided to stay at Leicester, and another great season has soon his value rise by $25 million. Maguire and Alderweireld at center back would be a great partnership, but it is likely only one of them will arrive. Maguire is more expensive but would be a long-term purchase.


Declan Rice (West Ham, valued at $60 million)
His meteoric rise has seen him become a star for West Ham and make his England debut. Shows so much poise in the holding midfield role and if Rice, still just 20 years old, arrived then it could help Paul Pogba out as he will win the ball back and feed the Frenchman in good areas. West Ham will reluctantly sell, and Rice should be a top priority to shield United’s shaky defense.


Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace, valued at $60 million)
Ashley Young has been handed a one-year extension and Antonio Valencia is leaving, so United are looking a little weak at right back. Wan-Bissaka, 21, has been sublime for Crystal Palace and is a solid defender as well as adding an attacking presence. Palace will be reluctant to sell both AWB and Wilfried Zaha in the same summer, which could be an issue. Right back is an area where United need to strengthen. Now.