Alberto Paloschi

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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.

Serie A: Higuain gets a double, Napoli and Lazio win

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The peak of the Serie A table stayed unchanged as teams placed 2-4 all kept pace with Juventus by winning on Sunday, also all earning clean sheets.

Second-placed Napoli went ahead early and took care of Sassuolo for a 2-0 win at Stadio San Paulo. Adam Ounas scored the opener just four minutes in on quite a stunning goal as he intercepted a back-pass off his chest and controlled the ball around Giangiacomo Magnani. He took a brilliant touch to pop the ball up in the air over the defender, and ripped a left-footed blast on the volley for an impressive finish. Lorenzo Insigne put the game away in the 72nd minute with his seventh goal of the season. The defense gave him far too much space to tee up a shot outside the top of the box, and he curled one into the top-right corner.

Lazio needed just a goal from Ciro Immobile in the 37th minute to hold serve at home over Fiorentina with a 1-0 victory. It came on a set-piece, as Lazio delivered one of its five corners. Stefan Radu got his head to it from the penalty spot and sent it to the far post, where Immobile was there to tap it in for his sixth goal of the season. The win pushed Lazio as high as third, although they would fall to fourth by the end of the day.

Sampdoria – at the time – secured its spot in a Champions League place for another week as Lorenzo Tonelli got his first goal with the club in the 76th minute of a 1-0 road win over Atalanta. Tonelli got his head to a corner and directed it inside the near post, as Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini was incredibly late to react. The 28-year-old Tonelli joined Sampdoria this summer from on loan after he barely featured for Napoli last season. The three points pushed Sampdoria up to fourth, although Inter jumped them after their late kick.

AC Milan also won its second straight, the club’s first winning streak of the season, with a 3-1 victory over Chievo Verona. Gonzalo Higuain grabbed a brace, scoring first-half goals seven minutes apart to put Milan in control.

His first came on a bit of sloppy play with Chievo unable to clear. A Hakan Calhanoglu cross was too far over the box, but Suso was able to collect on the right edge of the box, and with the defense out of sorts, his low bullet found Higuain in the middle of the box for a simple poke inside the near post. Then, past the half-hour mark, Suso again found the Argentinian, this time through the center with a clinical through-ball that left Higuain free on goal. Giacomo Bonaventura grabbed Milan’s third after halftime, while Sergio Pellissier picked up Chievo’s consolation just past the hour mark.

Earlier in the day, Parma moved into the top half of the table with a 3-1 road win at Genoa. They went behind just six minutes in via Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek who bagged his league-leading ninth goal of the season, but Luca Rigoni would equalize soon after thanks to a terrible mistake by Genoa goalkeeper Ionut Radu who attempted to punch a corner but whiffed. Luca Siligardi put Parma in front with a deflected strike, and by the 30th minute Fabio Ceravolo completed the scoreline

Mauro Icardi’s double saved Inter’s day as the visitors won 2-1 over SPAL at Stadio Paolo Mazza in Ferrara. Icardi struck first 14 minutes in on a stunning header from an impossible angle. Inter pushed to get the ball into the box, but with SPAL continuing to clear, Sime Vrsaljko lofted a ball in from the right flank and Icardi, with his back to net and near the end line at the near post, somehow flicked a bouncing header across the face of goal and in past Alfred Gomis. SPAL equalized on a sleepy moment by Inter defender Miranda to let Alberto Paloschi leak behind and score, but it wouldn’t stay level long.Ivan Perisic fed Icardi just five minutes later with a beautiful through-ball down the left and the Argentine finished with ease for the 2-1 win. The win moves Inter to third, above Lazio and Sampdoria.

Serie A wrap: Surprises up and down the table

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It was a wild, wild week in Serie A, where most of the relegation scrappers collected points and two Roman Top Five sides lost, one at home!

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Napoli’s 57 and Juventus’ 56 points are double digits clear of the chasing pack after this loony couple days of Italian top flight play.

AC Milan 2-1 Lazio

Patrick Cutrone’s opener gave the hosts a lead which would last just five minutes, but Giacomo Bonaventura nodded this beautiful ball home to edge AC Milan closer to the Top Four race.

SPAL 1-1 Inter Milan

Remember Alberto Paloschi? The ex-Swansea City striker has given lowly SPAL an invaluable point with a 90th minute goal to make amends for a 48th minute own goal as Inter drifted further off the pace set by Napoli and Juventus in the chase for a scudetto.

Fiorentina 1-4 Verona

It was a big week for relegation battlers, as on-loan Moise Kean (Juventus) scored twice to pull the visitors within three points of safety.

Crotone 1-1 Cagliari

Marcello Trotta‘s first half penalty was canceled out deep into first half stoppage as Cagliari denied 17th place Crotone all three points.

Elsewhere
Sassuolo 0-3 Atalanta — Saturday
Chievo 0-2 Juventus — Saturday
Genoa 0-1 Udinese — Behrami with lone goal
Torino 3-0 Benevento — Falque opens scoring in 3rd
Napoli 3-1 Bologna — Two more for Mertens
Roma 0-1 Sampdoria — Duvan Zapata scores late

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Napoli 22 18 3 1 48 14 34 8-2-1 10-1-0 57
 Juventus 22 18 2 2 52 15 37 9-1-1 9-1-1 56
 Lazio 22 14 4 4 57 27 30 6-2-2 8-2-2 46
 Inter Milan 22 12 8 2 37 17 20 7-3-1 5-5-1 44
 Roma 22 12 5 5 32 17 15 7-1-4 5-4-1 41
 Sampdoria 22 11 4 7 41 31 10 8-1-2 3-3-5 37
 AC Milan 22 10 4 8 29 29 0 6-2-3 4-2-5 34
 Atalanta 22 9 6 7 34 27 7 5-3-3 4-3-4 33
 Udinese 22 10 2 10 35 31 4 5-1-5 5-1-5 32
 Torino 22 7 11 4 32 28 4 4-5-2 3-6-2 32
 Fiorentina 22 7 7 8 31 28 3 4-4-3 3-3-5 28
 Bologna 22 8 3 11 27 33 -6 3-3-5 5-0-6 27
 Chievo 22 5 7 10 21 39 -18 3-4-4 2-3-6 22
 Sassuolo 22 6 4 12 14 34 -20 2-3-6 4-1-6 22
 Genoa 22 5 6 11 16 24 -8 2-2-7 3-4-4 21
 Cagliari 22 6 3 13 20 34 -14 3-1-7 3-2-6 21
 Crotone 22 5 4 13 17 39 -22 3-3-5 2-1-8 19
 SPAL 22 3 8 11 23 40 -17 2-5-4 1-3-7 17
 Verona 22 4 4 14 22 45 -23 2-1-8 2-3-6 16
 Benevento 22 2 1 19 13 49 -36 2-1-8 0-0-11 7

Serie A Roundup: Inter downs Juventus, Hart keeps clean sheet

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Inter took a punch and got back up to win the Derby d’Italia 2-1 over defending champions Juventus. Stephen Lichtensteiner split two defenders and poked home Alex Sandro‘s cross for a Juventus lead in the 66th minute, but Inter hit back twice soon after. Mauro Icardi rose high to head home a corner in the 68th, and then the head of Ivan Perisic delivered after Icardi did the hard work down the right edge of the box.

Joe Hart put the mistakes in his Torino debut behind him, keeping a clean sheet in his first match in front of the home fans at Stadio Olimpico with a 0-0 draw with Empoli. To be fair, it helped that he didn’t have much to do.

Despite holding the majority of possession, visiting Empoli put just two shots on Hart’s goal – the first coming 63 minutes in – and while Torino out-shot them 14-5 overall, neither side could find a winner.

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Marco Borriello‘s brace gave Cagliari a 3-0 win over his old club Atalanta at home. The 34-year-old spent just half a season at Atalanta, but left on a free transfer this past summer and bagged his third and fourth goals of the season in the victory, scoring just eight minutes in for the lead, and then again in the 73rd minute with a curling free-kick through the wall. Atalanta had a chance to tie things up 10 minutes before halftime, but Alberto Paloschi saw his penalty saved by Rafael.

Fabrizio Cacciatore scored at the death for Chievo Verona (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
Fabrizio Cacciatore scored at the death for Chievo Verona (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)

Chievo Verona earned a dramatic three points, as Fabrizio Cacciatore scored five minutes into added time to give the visitors a 2-1 win over Udinese at  Stadio Friuli. The 29-year-old Italian international found himself completely unmarked at the back post as the game came to a close, and he finished Lucas Castro’s cross cooly with virtually the last touch of the game. The goal came not long after Castro himself had equalized with eight minutes left in regulation, cancelling out Duvan Zapata’s first-half header.

Sassuolo struck twice in an eight-minute second half span to win 2-0 at home over Genoa, taking the Neroverdi third in the Serie A table. 23-year-old Matteo Politano bagged a penalty in the 58th minute after Leonardo Pavoletti fouled Gregoire Defrel in the area. Then, Defrel earned himself a goal with a diving header in the 66th minute to put the home side through. It got worse for Genoa as Miguel Veloso was sent off in the 86th minute.

Crotone and Palermo played to a 1-1 draw at tiny Stadio Ezio Scida. The newly-promoted side went ahead in the 23rd minute via former Fulham man Marcello Trotta, but Ilija Nestorovski pulled Palermo back level midway through the second half.

Swansea snags former Juventus striker Fernando Llorente

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Swansea City has announced the signing of striker Fernando Llorente from Sevilla, ambitiously offsetting the loss of Bafetimbi Gomis to Marseille, plus the departures of flops Eder and Alberto Paloschi earlier this summer. The fee was undisclosed.

The 31-year-old Llorente spent two full seasons as a regular starter for Juventus from 2013-2015, making 92 appearances and scoring 27 goals as the Italian giants won the Serie A title both years. He moved to La Liga last summer at the expiry of his contract, and was an on-again, off-again regular for a Sevilla side that won the Europa League.

However, Llorente saw himself on the bench more often than not as the season wound down, with Kevin Gameiro favored by manager Unai Emery, something which likely pushed him to move.

Swansea confirmed the Spaniard will wear the #9 shirt this coming season.

“I have scored goals in La Liga and Serie A, and now I want to score a lot of goals for the club in the Premier League,” Llorente told the Swansea City official website. “I want to score a lot of goals like Michu. He is a very good player and he did very well here.”

Llorente knows manager Francesco Guidolin from his time in Serie A, when Guidolin was in charge of Udinese.