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Serie A: AC Milan and Roma draw, Inter blanked at home

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The door to the Serie A top four was wide open, and nobody wanted to walk through.

The teams in third, fourth, and fifth all dropped points on Sunday, with AC Milan and Roma playing to a disappointing 1-1 draw despite any potential winner taking charge of the race for fourth. Krzysztof Piatek scored his first goal for Inter since joining in January, a close-range effort on a cross from Lucas Paqueta after he worked Lorenzo Pellegrini on the by-line.

With Milan up at halftime, the second half kicked off and Roma equalized immediately on a sloppy goal. It started with a cross from Rick Karsdorp that pinged around the box before Milan defender Mateo Musacchio looked to poke the ball clear, but his slide only redirected it on net, and while Gianluigi Donnarumma stopped it, Nicolo Zaniolo charged and popped it into the back of the net.

The draw left things essentially where they started, with Milan a point above Roma in fourth, and the latter sitting barely outside the Champions League places. Roma will be most disappointed with the failure to secure victory, unable to score more despite 17 total shots, including seven on frame. They dominated the attacking numbers, drawing 10 corners to AC Milan’s two.

Elsewhere, second-placed Inter was surprisingly taken down 1-0 at home by 18th-placed Bologna, making Milan and Roma’s failure to secure all three points even more painful. They put just three of their 16 shots on target, and Federico Santander’s 32nd minute header was enough to earn Bologna an enormous result, pulling them within a point of safety.

Udinese and Fiorentina both sandwiched the hour mark with goals in a 1-1 draw that left both sides longing for victory. Fiorentina sits in ninth, but they are just four points back of fourth-placed AC Milan in a crowded Champions League battle, and a win would have lifted them to seventh. Udinese, meanwhile, sits just two points above the drop and could have used the breathing room.

Genoa and Sassuolo also drew 1-1 with first-half goals scored by Filip Djuricic and Antonio Sanabria. Those two teams sit just two mid-table placed apart, although they’re separated by six points.

Finally, SPAL failed to score despite a 25-minute man advantage in a 0-0 draw with Torino. Reported Arsenal target Nicolas N’Koulou was sent off in the 65th minute after earning his second yellow card for essentially ankle-tackling Alberto Paloschi down the right.

Must-See Goal: Jozy Altidore

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If Jozy Altidore keeps up his current scoring pace, U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter will have no choice but to start him in the future.

[FOLLOW LIVE, MLS Wednesday]

For the second consecutive game since returning from the Gold Cup, Jozy Altidore found the back of the net, and once again it was in tremendous fashion. Taking a cross in from the right, Altidore realized his near-post run was too close to goal. Instead of controlling the pass or letting it by him, Altidore caressed the ball with the inside of his right heel, directing the ball past New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and in for a goal.

Altidore scored a brilliant free kick last week to help secure all three points. Toronto FC inside ten minutes is already on its way to another three.

Watch the goal below.

FOLLOW LIVE, MLS Wednesday: Atlanta, TFC, Red Bulls in action

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It’s an exciting four-game slate in some Wednesday MLS action, headlined by Toronto FC hosting the New York Red Bulls. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore always seem to relish playing their old club, but it’s also a crucial game for the playoff picture

Toronto FC is right on the red line to make it into the playoffs, and three points tonight will go a long way to helping them make it there. The Red Bulls meanwhile can jump into second place with a win and will be just two points back from the first-place Philadelphia Union.

[ FOLLOW: Wednesday’s MLS action ]

Elsewhere, Atlanta United looks to rebound from a 2-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders with a trip across the continent back home as Atlanta hosts the Houston Dynamo. Emerson Hyndman has earned the start for his new club while Brandon Vasquez starts ahead of MLS record signing Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez.

New addition Mo Adams also makes the bench for Atlanta.

Also tonight, the New England Revolution host the Vancouver Whitecaps, and new signing Gustavo Bou makes his first start for New England. In addition, the Chicago Fire host the Columbus Crew in a match between two struggling Midwest clubs.

Follow along with us at the link above and stay right here at PST for plenty of postgame analysis.

UCL Roundup: Celtic advances to second round

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Scottish Premier League champion Celtic advanced mostly with ease to the second round of UEFA Champions League qualifying.

In the first official home game of the season at Celtic Park, Celtic defeated FK Sarajevo, 2-1, advancing with a 5-2 aggregate victory. Manager Neil Lennon was able to rest some starters, including Craig Gordon, Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths as Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor scored for the hosts.

A second half turnover led to a wide-open Benjamin Tatar in the box, who finished to tie the score at 1-1 on the night. McGregor’s 76th minute smash from 30-yards out gave Celtic the lead again, which it held on to for the rest of the game.

With the win, Celtic advances to face Nõmme Kalju of Estonia, with matches set to take place July 23/24 and July 30/31.

Here’s a roundup of other UCL first round qualifying second leg scores.

Riga FC 0-0 Dundalk (4-5 on penalty kicks)

AIK 3-1 Ararat

Qarabag 2-0 Partizani

Rosenborg 4-0 Linfield

Ludogorets 2-3 Ferencvaros

CFR Cluj 3-1 Astana

Piast Gliwice 1-2 BATE Borisov

Maribor 2-0 Valur

Sutjeska 1-1 Slovan Bratislava

North and South Korea to meet in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) North Korea and South Korea have been drawn together in an Asian qualifying group for soccer’s 2022 World Cup.

The Korean neighbors will play each other home and away in the five-nation Group H that includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka. Saudi Arabia and Yemen were also paired in Wednesday’s draw that involved 40 national teams and some political sensitivities. The Saudis, which played at the 2018 World Cup, are top-seeded in Group D that also has Uzbekistan, Palestine and Singapore.

Top-ranked Iran was drawn with neighboring Iraq, plus Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia, in Group C.

United Arab Emirates is top-seeded in a Group G loaded with Southeast Asian derbies, involving Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Australia, which plays in the Asian soccer confederation, will play Jordan, Taiwan, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B.

World Cup host Qatar also plays as this group stage doubles up as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup being played in China. Qatar will play Oman, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh in Group E.

China is in Group A with Syria, Philippines, Maldives and Guam. Japan is in Group F with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.

The eight groups play from September through June.

Group winners and the four best runners-up advance to another group stage, played from September 2020 to October 2021. Those 12 teams also qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Four Asian teams will qualify directly for the World Cup. A fifth nation can advance to Qatar in an intercontinental playoff round in March 2022.