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Serie A: Lazio rescues Milan draw, Napoli held, Empoli wins late

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Napoli and Lazio both took the field on Sunday hoping to entrench themselves in a top four position, but came away with disappointing draws. Napoli was held off the scoreboard, while Lazio needed a stoppage time goal just to earn the lone point.

It was especially disappointing for Napoli, who hosted basement-dwellers Chievo Verona and failed to find the scoresheet. Napoli ripped off 21 total shots, including eight on net, but could not find an opener. Lorenzo Insigne missed a huge opportunity just minutes after halftime as he ripped wide on a turn-and-shoot behind the defense. It looked like Insigne expected the offside flag to go up, but it correctly never did. With ticks left on the clock, Amadou Diawara attempted an audacious overhead kick and nearly won it in spectacular fashion, but his was just wide right.

Lazio found the back of the net, but it took 94 minutes to do so as they drew 1-1 with AC Milan. It was quite a cheap goal for Milan to concede, as Lazio lumped the ball forward, and while Christian Zapata cleared the initial ball with his head, it wasn’t nearly far enough, and it fell to Joaquin Correa who flicked it up in the air and then volleyed a speculative effort on net that squeaked past Gianluigi Donnarumma. That canceled out Franck Kessie’s opener that had come in the 78th minute, a deflected effort that banged hard off the tucked arm of Lazio defender Wallace. The draw leaves Lazio in fourth, unable to extend their one-point above fifth-place Milan.

Empoli picked up a huge three points by downing 10-man Atalanta 3-2 with a goal from Matias Silvestre in the 92nd minute. The 34-year-old Argentinian headed in off a corner for a huge victory, moving Empoli out of the relegation zone and into 17th position with 12 points. Serbian midfielder Josip Ilicic had been stupidly sent off in the 84th minute, earning a yellow card for a tackle in transition, and then immediately sent off for dissent. That left Empoli to go for the win in the dying minutes with the game level at 2-2.

Parma moved into 6th in the table with a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo. All three goals were scored in the first half, with Parma going two-up on a 25th minute winner from 36-year-old Portuguese defender Bruno Alves, the first Parma goal for Alves who joined this summer on a free transfer from Rangers. It’s the fourth one-goal victory for Parma this season, jumping a point above Roma in the league table.

Elsewhere, Genoa and Sampdoria drew 1-1 after early goals from Krzystof Piatek and Fabio Quagliarella cancelled out. Fiorentina popped off 19 shots on a visit to Bologna, but only managed five of those on target as they drew 0-0.

Finlay goal gives Minnesota win over former club Columbus (video)

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It had to be him.

As Columbus continues to search for itself under new management, it’s no surprise that one of its old heroes broke its heart on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

Ethan Finlay, he of the 166 Crew appearances before being traded to Minnesota United, said earlier this week, “I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t want to beat up on them pretty bad.”

So of course Finlay scored a 70th minute tap-in to give his Loons a 1-0 win over Columbus on Saturday in St. Paul. It wasn’t “pretty bad,” but it probably felt pretty good.

The goal was Finlay’s first of the season for United, keeping the hosts unbeaten at home.

Columbus falls to 1-5 away from home under Caleb Porter, and has won just once in its last seven outings.

Brighton ready to pay release clause for Swans manager

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Brighton and Hove Albion is ready to bring one of England’s brightest managerial prospects into the Premier League.

The Seagulls are set to pay a $3 million release clause to lure Graham Potter away from Swansea City, one year after the manager left Swedish club Ostersunds FK.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

Potter was 35 when he was hired by the Swedish club in 2010, and helped Ostersunds to three promotions before moving to Wales in 2018.

Swans finished 10th this season, its first in the Championship after relegation from the Premier League.

Brighton regressed in a big way during the second half of this season, and remains in the top flight largely because Cardiff City was unable to take advantage of the Seagulls’ huge struggles.

The report says Swansea offered Potter a new deal to stay at the Liberty Stadium, but the manager wants to try the Premier League.

If he takes the job, Potter will manage against one of his former clubs; Potter played eight times for Southampton in the Premier League.

Pep: Domestic treble harder than winning Champions League

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Manchester City won its third tournament of the season on Saturday, battering Watford 6-0 at Wembley Stadium to add an FA Cup to its League Cup and Premier League titles.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

In doing so, City is the first club to win a domestic treble. Manager Pep Guardiola wants to win every competition he enters, but said winning all three is extra special.

“I love the Champions League but it is more difficult to do what we have done than to win the Champions League,” Guardiola said.

Wait, what?

From ManCity.com:

“It’s not easy being there every three days. We lacked a little bit of energy but it’s normal. It’s been so tough this week. We could not have had more energy but we kept it at the right time.”

Well, that makes sense. Whereas Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp risked less with his cup lineups, knowing his desire for the Premier League and Champions League, Guardiola’s lineups were aimed at winning everything.

And that’s largely why they’ve done it. City might’ve needed penalty kicks to beat Chelsea in the League Cup Final and a John Stones clearance to win the Premier League (or a Vincent Kompany thunderbolt), but the treble is impressive.

AC Milan boss Gattuso insists fifth “not a failure”

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For a solid four months, it appeared AC Milan was on track for a return to the Champions League for the first time in six years. Then, it all fell apart.

Still, manager Gennaro Gattuso is insisting their season is not a failure, adamant that a fifth-placed finish would not be considered a disappointment for the club. His reasoning will not be exactly endearing to fans.

“Fifth place absolutely wouldn’t be a failure, not because I want credit myself, plus what would Roma and Lazio say?” Gattuso said during his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s game against Frosinone. “There’s regret because for two months we’ve had our fate in our hands and we dropped so many points, but it’s not a failure.”

Milan was as high as third place in the Serie A table in mid-March and seemed close to wrapping up a return to Champions League play, but a stretch of one win in seven league matches saw them tumble down into the crowded battle below, with Atalanta, Roma, Torino, and Lazio all in a pack. AC Milan now sits sixth, and while they still remain in the mix for the fourth position, they would need to make up a three-point deficit in just two matches. Fifth-placed Roma drew today, so they can jump to fifth with a win against Frosinone.

Milan was a European powerhouse for decades until the club declined following its 2007 Champions League victory, ultimately falling out of the running for Europe’s top competition, with just a few Europa League appearances since 2014. Gattuso’s comparison to Lazio and Roma, two strong Italian clubs without Milan’s history, is bound to infuriate fans, along with his acceptance of the club’s shortcomings.

The late-season collapse has called Gattuso’s job security into question, but he said that will wait until the end of the season. “Both the club and I have put aside our small talk to reach our objective,” Gattuso said during the presser. “There will be time to talk about the future.”

“There are two games left and we’re still playing for our objective.”