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Serie A: Juventus survives to beat Napoli, Torino and Atalanta both stroll

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Juventus survived a late scare to top Napoli and essentially wrap up the Serie A title, winning 2-1 to open up a massive 16-point lead at the top of the table.

On the road in Naples, Juve took a two-goal lead before the break, both coming after Napoli was reduced to 10 men. A horrible back-pass from Kevin Malcuit saw Cristiano Ronaldo clean through on goal, so Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret came charging out of the 18-yard box to challenge. Ronaldo touched to his left, leaving Meret grasping at nothing but air, and while the two never made contact, Ronaldo had nowhere to go but up and over the sprawled goalkeeper before crashing to the ground, and the call was easy for the referee as he sent Meret off.

Juventus immediately took the lead on the ensuing free-kick as Miralem Pjanic sent it just barely over the wall and into the top-left corner. They doubled the lead soon after when Emre Can headed home a 39th minute cross by Federico Bernardeschi.

After the halftime break, things got dicey for the league leaders. Pjanic was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for a handball in midfield, a harsh call after Allan‘s looped pass hit him quickly, with little time for the Juve midfielder to react. With the game at 10 v. 10, Napoli made things interesting as Lorenzo Insigne’s cross met Jose Callejon at the back post to make it 2-1, with the Spaniard beating Georgio Chiellini.

Napoli was given a chance to get back level as the referee used VAR to give the hosts a penalty for a Alex Sandro handball. It was yet another harsh decision with Fabian Ruiz powering the ball straight into the Juve defender’s arm. Still, the referee pointed to the spot, but Insigne’s penalty came off the post and with hit the chance for Napoli to earn a result.

Elsewhere, Fabio Quagliarella scored twice inside the opening 15 minutes to lead Sampdoria to a 2-1 win over SPAL. His first was a brilliant finish, meeting Bartosz Bereszynski’s looped cross with an acrobatic scissor-kick that powered the ball into the ground and into the back of the net. His second came just seven minutes later with a towering header, and that was all the visitors needed. SPAL had a goal disallowed in the 67th minute for offside, and that proved decisive as Jasmin Kurtic would scupper the clean sheet in stoppage time, but it was ultimately nothing more than a consolation. Sampdoria moves to ninth in the Serie A table with the win, while SPAL remains five points above the relegation zone in 16th.

Torino needed 73 minutes to find the opener, but once they did the floodgates opened as they topped Chievo Verona 3-0. Andrea Belotti delivered a long-range missile with his right foot to break the deadlock, and while Torino saw the rest of the game out, they added the cherry on top in added time. In the 92nd minute Thomas Rincon made it 2-0 on a similar strike to Belotti’s opener, and Simone Zaza had the third a minute later as he beat Marco Andreolli to a bouncing back-pass and put the game away.

Atalanta fell behind Fiorentina just three minutes into the match, but they stormed back at home to win 3-1 behind goals from Josip Ilicic, Alejandro Gómez, Robin Gosens to move eighth in the table on 41 points, level with Torino but behind them on head-to-head.

VIDEO: Breaking down some celebrated Premier League derbies

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The kickoffs aren’t coming back soon, so we’re finding solace in anticipating the biggest matches on the Premier League calendar.

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Certain rivalries are circled on the fixture list when it arrives each summer, the sort of games that seem to level the playing field regardless of the gulf in class.

Is Arsenal struggling? No better way to bounce back than Spurs.

Liverpool sliding a bit? It’ll snap back to form when Everton hits Anfield.

PST lead writer and editor Joe Prince-Wright has prepped up for several of these derbies over the years, and here’s a cheat sheet for those new and a tasty summation for those missing their hated foes.

Liverpool-Manchester City

Arsenal-Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool-Everton

Manchester City-Manchester United

Chelsea-Tottenham Hotspur

Bournemouth’s Howe takes voluntary pay cut, first PL manager to do so

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Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is the first Premier League manager to take a pay cut due to the coronavirus suspension.

Howe joins Bournemouth chief executive Neill Blake, first team technical director Richard Hughes, and assistant manager Jason Tindall in taking “significant, voluntary” pay cuts.

Howe is the longest-serving manager in the PL. He started with Bournemouth’s academy in 1994 and spent just a few short seasons away from home (Portsmouth and Swindon Town) during his playing career.

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The club has also furloughed employees throughout the organization. From a Bournemouth statement:

There is no script for moments like this. No tactics and no set plays to find a winning formula. But as a board we are continually looking at ways to ensure the future of the club and our employees is protected when the season returns.

We have also advised a number of staff across all areas of the club that they will be temporarily furloughed, as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

These measures have been taken to safeguard the financial stability of the club during what is such an uncertain period, not only in football but for businesses in all industries across the world.

Surely Howe won’t be the last during this uncertain time for clubs and businesses all over the world.

Ex-Marseille president first coronavirus-related death in Senegal

Pape Diouf
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DAKAR, Senegal (AP) Pape Diouf, a former president of French soccer club Marseille, died Tuesday in Senegal after contracting the coronavirus. It was the West African country’s first COVID-19-related death, according to the health ministry. He was 68.

Diouf, who was president of Marseille from 2005-09, had been treated since Saturday in intensive care in Dakar, health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said.

Senegal President Macky Sall wrote on his official Twitter account that he had followed Diouf’s health closely after he was admitted for treatment.

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“I pay tribute to this great figure in sport,” Sall wrote. “I pay tribute to the medical staff at Fann Hospital who spared no effort to save him.”

Relatives said Diouf was meant to be moved to France. He had recently traveled to several countries in the West Africa region.

In its most recent count, Senegal has reported 190 cases of the coronavirus, with 45 of those having recovered.

Diouf was a charismatic and popular leader who was close to the fans and players at Marseille, the only French team to win the European club title.

“Pape will forever remain in the hearts of Marseille people and (is) one of the great architects of the club,” Marseille wrote under a photo of Diouf.

Shortly before his time at the club ended, Diouf signed Didier Deschamps as the new coach and Deschamps won the French league title and League Cup in his first season in charge. It was Marseille’s first league title in 18 years.

Deschamps, who coached France to World Cup success two years ago, described Diouf as “a man of convictions, a spirited man, passionate about football” adding that his “sudden and brutal death deeply saddens me.”

“I could measure his popularity, which was immense with the Marseille people whose hearts he had won,” Deschamps said on L’Equipe’s website.

The French soccer league called Diouf’s death “a moment of immense sadness for French soccer.”

Diouf was born in Chad to Senegalese parents. After arriving in Marseille at the age of 18, he became a sports journalist and then a players’ agent.

Diouf was not afraid to take risks in signing unheralded players, such as the diminutive Mathieu Valbuena from third-tier side Libourne in 2006 when he was 21.

The 1.67-meter (5 feet, 5 inches) Valbuena went on to prove Diouf right, and all the doubters wrong, playing 52 times for France.

“A great man with a great heart,” Valbuena said. “We were hypnotized by his speeches, he had a lot of charisma.”

Diouf was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal in 2012, one of the country’s highest honors.

Pugmire reported from Paris. AP reporter Babacar Dione in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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

Report: Griezmann plus cash could finally get Neymar back to Barcelona

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Neymar’s long-rumored return to Barcelona hasn’t quite reached the point of exhaustion, but it’s close.

A new report has said Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain may be coming to terms with what’s been a fairly obvious swap deal for some time.

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According to Sky Sports, PSG would send Neymar to Barcelona in return for French hero Antoine Griezmann and money.

The $167 million price tag attached to Neymar is significantly more than the $110 million on Griezmann, and there’s no doubt the former is more of a gamechanger at this point on their careers.

While Neymar gets both the #whenhealthy and #whenavailable tags to his rep, he’s scored 18 times with 10 assists in 22 matches across all competitions this year.

Before the full phrase ‘Ligue 1’ exits your lips, he’s scored against Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Galatasaray, Liverpool, Anderlecht, and Red Star Belgrade in his three seasons with PSG.

Griezmann is a full year older than Neymar and, while one of the world’s elite attackers, he’s a step below the Brazilian’s tier. He’s also said to want to keep finding his way at Barca, with Gerard Pique and others ready to lend support.