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Serie A: Inter hangs on, Koulibaly bags Napoli brace

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Inter struck twice in the opening half and hung on from there as they top Frosinone 2-1 for a critical boost in the Champions League race. Radja Nainggolan opened the scoring inside the opening 20 minutes, heading home a Danilo D’Ambrosio cross to put Inter one-up. They went 2-0 in front as Ivan Perisic finished from the spot after Raman Chibsah wrestled Milan Skriniar to the ground in the box.

Frosinone grabbed one back just past the hour mark as Francesco Cassata rifled a low shot from the top of the box that went off the hand of a diving Samir Handanovic, but Inter clung to its lead, finishing with 72% possession and an 18-12 shot advantage. The win pushes third-placed Inter to 60 points, five points above fourth-placed AC Milan in the last Champions League place.

Center-back Kalidou Koulibaly picked up a brace as Napoli moved seven points adrift in second place with six matches to go by beating Chievo Verona 3-1. The Senegalese international shook off a defender on his back to head home a corner in the 14th minute to open the scoring. Arkadiusz Milik doubled the lead just past the hour mark with a looper from outside the top of the box, and Koulibaly put the game away with nine minutes to go, again off a corner that was only partially cleared, blasting a left-footer into the back of the net. Chievo picked up a late consolation from Bostjan Cesar but that was all they could muster out of their four shots on target.

Simone Zaza scored on the doorstep and then was sent off as Torino drew nine-man Cagliari 1-1. Three total players were sent to the showers, including Zaza who put Torino in front in the 52nd minute before earning a key red 20 minutes later. His goal, the third league strike of his campaign, came off a rocketed baseline cross from Armando Izzo, and thanks to the power on the cross, Zaza just had to make contact from five yards out to redirect it into the back of the net.

The 27-year-old was then sent off for what appeared to be dissent after an innocuous foul. The moment was key, as Leonardo Pavoletti used the man advantage to bring Cagliari back level just two minutes later with a header. While the goal was initially ruled out for offside, VAR confirmed it as a legal score. While Cagliari saw two men sent off from there, both for second yellow cards, the match ended level, a big blow for Torino in the chase for a European position as the point pushed them two back of sixth-placed Atalanta who still has yet to play.

36-year-old Fabio Quagliarella played provider and finisher as Sampdoria topped Genoa at home 2-0 to slide into ninth place, four points back of a European place. Gregoire Defrel put the hosts up for good in just the third minute, sliding in to poke home a baseline cross from Quagliarella. The captain then scored himself in the 53rd minute, striking from the penalty spot after Davide Biraschi was sent off for a handball in the box as the ball bounced up and hit his outstretched arm.

Fiorentina whipped off 15 shots to Bologna’s four, but neither side could find the back of the net as it finished 0-0 at Artemio Franchi Stadium. The disappointing season for Fiorentina continued, remaining in 10th on 40 points, eight back of ninth-placed Sampdoria.

Sassuolo and Parma also drew 0-0 as both sides stayed put in the bottom half of the table. Sassuolo dominated the match, holding 72% possession and ripping off 20 shots to just three for the visitors.

Lascelles admits Newcastle in for “long, tough season”

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Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles admits the players are prepared for a difficult campaign after dropping into the relegation zone early in the season.

After a third defeat in their first five Premier League matches, falling 3-1 to leaders Liverpool, the English defender labeled the upcoming match against Brighton & Hove Albion “our biggest game yet” and admitted this season could provide some trying times. “We have had a tough run at the start of the season, tough for any team. So it is going to be a long tough season. Ie have a good 11, a good squad and a lot of bodies. When we start finding the net we will get going.”

Newcastle will be buoyed by the knowledge that of those three losses, two came against Liverpool and Arsenal while the third came against a red-hot Norwich City side. The Magpies also topped Champions League finalists Spurs 1-0 and managed a draw against a struggling Watford side before falling to Liverpool last time out.

“We were in a decent position, a win against Spurs and draw against Watford,” Lascelles said after the Liverpool loss. “Now we need to push and get three points against Brighton. These games are six pointers at home to Brighton, we have to fancy ourselves. They will be big competition for us and Saturday is the right time to do that.”

Lascelles admitted that while the defensive form is a struggle at the moment having conceded eight goals through the first five matches with just one clean sheet – the win over Spurs – everyone is hoping to chip in up front as well, an attacking mentality that flows through the team. “We’re not happy conceding three against Norwich and Liverpool,” Lascelles said. “We are getting chances and creating a lot. When a couple of people start scoring the goals will be flowing and we have had a couple injured as well. It is important we all chip in with goals. I’d like to get a few. Fab [Schar] is a goal scoring centre half. He puts important points on the board. If we and midfielders can help out we will get to 40 points sooner than later.”

Lampard, players look to play down Chelsea penalty incident

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Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and his players have come together in hopes of playing down the incident at the end of the game that led up to Ross Barkley‘s fateful missed penalty late in the 1-0 Champions League loss to Valencia on Tuesday.

Barkley appeared to take the ball off a host of other Blues players who wished to take the penalty, with Willian and Jorginho looking the most vocal. Jorginho conceded rather quickly, but Willian was more insistent in his wish to take the spot-kick, pulling up his socks in front of Barkley before finally conceding.

[ Azpilicueta also backs Barkley ]

According to Lampard, Barkley was indeed the designated penalty taker and his assistance was within protocol. “Ross is the penalty taker,” Lampard said in the post-match press conference. “He was pre-season, scored a couple, has been when he started, and was today when he came on and he missed it, clear story.”

“I don’t know what the conversation was,” Lampard continued about the confrontation, “but Jorginho and Willian were penalty takers on the pitch, but when Ross comes on he’s the penalty taker, and he’s missed it.”

[ MORE: Recap, 3 things from Chelsea loss ]

Barkley confirmed this as well after the match. “We’ve got a lot of good penalty-takers in the squad,” said Barkley. “On a sheet in the changing room, it says I’m on penalties when I’m on the pitch, otherwise it’s Jorginho.”

Willian, who was far more demonstrative on the pitch about taking the penalty, said he was disappointed to miss out, but he stands behind his teammate. “I wanted to take it but he (Barkley) was confident to take it. This is football. He missed the penalty but it could be me that missed, or Jorginho or whoever. So football is like this. But when we win, we win together, and when we lose, we lose together.”

Chelsea needs to wait “48 hours” to assess Mount

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Mason Mount‘s move from the Championship to the Premier League has been nearly seamless.

His adjustment to the Champions League was cut down too quickly to get an understanding of whether it would be too big of a jump.

[ MORE: Match recap | Barkley drama ]

Mount, 20, was chopped down by Valencia’s Francis Coquelin, the former Arsenal man, and had to leave the game after just 16 minutes.

Here’s Frank Lampard, from ChelseaFC.com:

“He’s got an ankle injury but we don’t know how bad it is. We’ll have to assess it in the next 48 hours to see the scale of the injury. It was a shame because he started the game well and it meant we had to make the change early on.”

Mount scored nine times with four assists on loan under Lampard at Derby County last season, and has already chipped in three goals for Chelsea this season.

Lampard turned to Pedro off the bench on Tuesday, but any lengthy absence for Mount will spell more time for American youngster Christian Pulisic.

UEFA Champions League Wednesday preview: Man City, Spurs debut

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Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur begin their UEFA Champions League campaigns on very different results and with very different vibes.

City is coming off a stunning 3-2 loss to injury-hit Norwich City, and is set up in Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk for the third-straight season, a side which beat Pep Guardiola once in four tries between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in the UCL.

[ MORE: UCL Tues. wrap ]

But on Wednesday, Guardiola’s men are going to carry a similar feel to one of his old Barcelona teams, as Pep seemingly will have Fernandinho pull a Javier Mascherano and drop into the back line.

Yes, Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi are Manchester City’s hopes at center back, now that John Stones has joined Aymeric Laporte on the shelf.

“For me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge,” said Pep Guardiola. “But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players going to come back with Dinho, Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis. … It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution. For the players as well to find an incredible step forward.”

Spurs, meanwhile, will simply be trying to build on any momentum gained by a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at the weekend, a win which came after manager Mauricio Pochettino begged his side to “re-focus” after a relatively poor start to the season.

Now a bit more relaxed, Spurs head to Greece as the clear favorites against stingy Olympiacos. These are, after all, the finalists of last season’s tournament.

Pochettino won’t be sleeping on the challenge, from The London Evening Standard:

“They have good players and if we are not focused and don’t take our best game we are going to suffer. But last season we played in the final of Champions League, so it’s normal people think before the game, Tottenham is one step above Olympiacos but in the end you need to show it on the pitch.”

Spurs are one of two early kickoffs on Tuesday.

Full UCL Wednesday schedule

12:55 p.m. ET
Club Brugge v. Galatasaray
Olympiacos v. Tottenham Hotspur

3 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Paris Saint-Germain v. Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Dinamo Zagreb v. Atalanta
Bayern Munich v. Red Star Belgrade
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Manchester City