Aleksandar Kolarov

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Serie A roundup: Roma hold off Napoli; Juventus remain leaders (video)

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Roma’s victory over Napoli highlight Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Roma 2-1 Napoli

On Saturday, at Stadio Olimpico, when Roma found themselves up 2-0 on Napoli, the game came to a pause. Referee Gianluca Rocchi made the decision to grab the ball and blow the whistle in the second half after Roma fans aimed racist chants at Napoli.

After a few minutes, the game resumed, and eventually, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s darting ball into the box would find Arkadiusz Milik, who extended his scoring run to four matches.

The first half had it all.

Nicolo Zaniolo opened the scoring, when his left-footed strike zoomed past Alex Meret and into the top-right corner of the goal. The 20-year-old has now scored three league goals in 11 matches. Shortly after, VAR granted Roma a penalty after concluding that Jose Callejon contacted the ball with his arm inside the box when pressured by Chris Smalling. Aleksandar Kolarov‘s penalty, however, was denied by Meret, who recorded four saves throughout the 90 minutes.

Napoli were persistent and came close several times. Giovanni di Lorenzo was denied at the goal line by a full-extended Smalling. In a matter of seconds, the visitor’s struck the woodwork twice, once by header from Milik, which was subsequently followed by a first-time volley from distance that also rattled the bar.

I Giallorossi would get a second chance from the spot in the second half. And this time they didn’t squander it.

Javier Pastore, who zipped through Napoli’s backline, saw his lofting cross crash into Fabian Ruiz’s arm. A penalty was awarded, and Jordan Veretout – on loan from Fiorentina – opened his Roma account, which ended up being the game-winning goal.

Up next for Roma, who moved to third and are only behind Inter Milan and Juventus, take on Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Europa League midweek. Napoli, on the other hand, host Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday and aim to remain perfect in Group E of the Champions League.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Tornio 0-1 Juventus

Bologna 1-2 Inter Milan

Serie A Roundup: Roma, Napoli, Lazio all win

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Edin Dzeko‘s last-gasp winner for AS Roma headlines a busy day in Serie A action on Sunday.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Bologna 1-2 Roma

Roma kept its unbeaten start to the 2019-2020 Serie A season thanks to a 94th-minute Edin Dzeko winner. The American-owned club first took the lead in the 49th minute through another former Premier League player, Aleksandar Kolarov. The Serbian delightfully placed a free kick at the top of the box over the wall and into the top corner.

However, Bologna quickly capitalized after Kolarov bundled over Roberto Soriano in the box, leading to a penalty kick call that VAR confirmed. Nicola Sansone waited for Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez to move and then slotted the ball into the right corner to tie the match.

Roma went down to ten men in the 85th minute when new signing Gianluca Mancini, a centerback, picked up his second yellow card for a foul on Felipe Santander as he was about to run into the box. And yet, even though Roma was on the ropes, Dzeko popped up in a pocket of space at the top of the six-yard box and powered home a header just before the final whistle to win the game. With the win, Roma jumps into the top four with eight points from four games.

Lecce 1-4 Napoli

Don’t tell Fernando Llorente that his best days are behind him.

Having left Tottenham in search of more first team minutes, Llorente just scored for the second-game straight as he bagged a brace in Napoli’s rout on the road over Lecce. At 34-years old, the crafty veteran may be the perfect age for star striker in Italy, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Quagliarella (26 goals last year at age 36) all at a similar age.

Llorente took advantage of his experience in the 28th minute, latching onto a blocked shot from Arkadiusz Milik that dribbled into the middle of the box, leaving Llorente for an easy finish past Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel.

VAR gave Napoli a controversial penalty kick in the 35th minute off a handball from Panagiotis Tachtsidis in the box. Lorenzo Insigne stepped up to take the penalty kick and his spot kick was saved expertly by Gabriel. However, the referee awarded a do-over after seeing Gabriel was a step off his line before the ball was kicked. Insigne didn’t miss on the second attempt, putting Napoli up 2-0.

Fabian Ruiz in the second half curled home an absolute beauty to put Napoli up 3-0. Lecce cut the decide by one with a penalty kick goal, but Llorente gave Napoli their three-goal lead again with another one-on-one finish from close.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 3-0 SPAL

Sampdoria 1-0 Torino

Atalanta 2-2 Fiorentina

Lazio 2-0 Parma

Opposing fans show unusual solidarity as Rome derby ends 1-1

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ROME (AP) A 1-1 draw in the Rome derby was an appropriate result amid unusual solidarity between normally warring supporters of Lazio and Roma on Sunday following the shooting death of a high-profile fan.

Both ends of the Stadio Olimpico paid tribute to Fabrizio “Diabolik” Piscitelli, the former Lazio “ultras” chief who was shot dead at point-blank range in an unsolved murder last month.

Roma went ahead with a first-half penalty from Aleksandar Kolarov, and Luis Alberto equalized for Lazio after the break.

Despite stifling humidity, the match was highly entertaining and featured six shots off the woodwork – four by Lazio (Lucas Leiva, Ciro Immobile, Joaquin Correa and Marco Parolo) and two by Roma (both by Nicolo Zaniolo).

Roma’s penalty was due to new and stricter handball rules.

Edin Dzeko saw Sergej Milinkovic-Savic raise his arm and struck the extended limb to earn the spot kick converted by Kolarov, the former Lazio fullback.

Luis Alberto’s goal came with a blistering shot through a crowded area.

The result will likely leave both sides frustrated.

Lazio, last season’s Italian Cup champion, will rue missed chances after hitting the goal frame so many times, while Roma has now drawn twice in its opening two matches under new coach Paulo Fonseca.

Roma has undergone a complete overhaul following a turbulent offseason that included the resignation of former captain Francesco Totti from his management position and the departure of Daniele De Rossi to Boca Juniors.

Police were on high alert for fan tensions following Piscitelli’s murder and the subsequent controversy over a public funeral. But there were no immediate reports of clashes or serious violence.

Many Lazio fans wore shirts that said “Diablo” to honor Piscitelli’s nickname, “Diabolik.”

Lazio supporters held aloft a huge banner featuring an image of Piscitelli before kickoff and Roma fans responded with smaller banners that read, “Rest in peace, Fabrizio” and “Fly high! Ciao Diablo.”

The “curva nord” – northern end – where Lazio’s hard-core fans sit stood silently during the first half in protest at the club’s decision not to express condolences over the death of Piscitelli, who had a long criminal record.

Lazio’s players were told not to celebrate below the “curva nord” to respect the fans’ protest and Luis Alberto kept his distance despite scoring at that end.

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

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Euro qualifiers: Spain rolls, Ukraine blasts Serbia, Poland hangs on

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The third round of Euro 2020 qualification began Friday as 12 games all took place around the continent with teams looking to reach the multi-national final next summer.

Here’s a rundown of each game that took place:

Faroe Islands 1-4 Spain

The visitors will be miffed to concede a goal, but the result was never really in doubt as Spain went ahead just five minutes in on Sergio Ramos’s header and never looked back. Jesus Navas made it 2-0 inside 20 minutes from a very tight angle, and while the tiny nation crawled back within one on the half-hour mark with a well-worked corner, Spain wrestled control back three minutes later with an own-goal by Faroe Islands goalkeeper Teitur Matras Gestsson, and killed off the game with 19 minutes to go as delicious through-ball from Marco Asensio fed Valencia winger Jose Gaya through on goal for a calm finish.

Ukraine 5-0 Serbia

A shocking scoreline saw Serbia lay an egg on the road in L’viv as Yevhen Konoplyanka’s brace led Ukraine to a massive win to take control of Group B. 21-year-old Dynamo Kiev winger Viktor Tsyhankov also bagged a pair, scoring two minutes apart just before the half-hour mark – the second of which was a screamer from well outside the box – while Konoplyanka tacked on to the lead with his stellar second half.

Serbia was well and truly thumped, managing just one shot on target the whole match despite a strong lineup that featured Dusan Tadic, Adem Ljajic, Aleksandar Kolarov, and new Real Madrid signing Luka Jovic.

Czech Republic 2-1 Bulgaria

Ismail Isa put Bulgaria in front just three minutes into the game on just his second international cap, but the hosts rallied in Praha behind a brace from 23-year-old Roma striker Patrik Schick to earn its first points of the qualifying cycle. Schick’s first leveled the score 19 minutes in, and the winner came just after halftime thanks to some silky moves in the box that turned Vasil Bozhikov around like a top.

Denmark 1-1 Republic of Ireland

Denmark appeared to have won a sloppy and physical match in the 76th minute on a thumping header by Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but the Republic of Ireland stayed the course and earned a late draw as Shane Duffy pumped in a header of his own five minutes from time. Denmark was sloppy up front for much of the game, ripping off 18 shots but finding the target with just three, and they would rue their wastefulness in the end, drawing for the second time in two games while Republic of Ireland stayed top of Group D on seven points.

Macedonia 0-1 Poland

Halftime substitute Krzysztof Piatek carried his hot club form into the summer, with his 47th minute winner the difference as Poland earned a more difficult than anticipated win. The goal came in gloriously sloppy fashion, with Macedonia somehow unable to clear a corner and the ball pinged around to Piatek at point blank range with bodies all around. That was Poland’s only shot on target the entire match in an otherwise uninspiring performance despite the presence of Robert Lewandowski and Piotr Zielinski in the lineup.

Norway 2-2 Romania

Martin Odegaard scored his first international goal, but Romania came from 2-0 down to grab a last-gasp draw in the 92nd minute to secure a share of the spoils in Oslo. Alexandru Maxim’s initial shot was blocked, but it fell right to the feet of Claudiu Keseru who had snuck behind Kristoffer Ajer to poke home the late equalizing goal. All four goals came in the second half, with Keseru bagging a brace after his first in the 76th minute gave Romania life.

Sweden 3-0 Malta

Robin Quaison opened the scoring just two minutes in, Viktor Claesson struck just after halftime, and Alexander Isak finished it off five minutes from full-time as Sweden completed a wire-to-wire victory over Malta to stay within striking distance of Spain in Group F. The second was the best of the bunch as Claesson scored thanks to a simply stunning back-heel assist from Marcus Berg who popped the ball up and over the defense right at the feet of the Krasnodar frontman for the finish.

Austria 1-0 Slovenia

Schalke striker Guido Burgstaller earned Austria all three points with his 74th minute winner for the country’s first points in Group G play. Coming on in the 71st minute, he scored after just three minutes on the pitch after great work from stars David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic. Alaba’s ball into the box fell to the feet of Arnautovic right on the doorstep, and the West Ham attacker held off his defender to deliver a shot, and his saved effort rebounded right to Burgstaller.

Latvia 0-3 Israel

Lithuania 1-1 Luxembourg

Montenegro 1-1 Kosovo

Georgia 3-0 Gibraltar

Ranieri victorious in his first game back in charge of Roma

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ROME (AP) Claudio Ranieri won his first game back in charge at Roma but it was far from comfortable.

Stephan El Shaarawy and Patrik Schick scored in the first half, and relegation-threatened Empoli’s late equalizer was disallowed on video review as Roma held on to win 2-1 on Monday.

Captain Alessandro Florenzi was sent off 10 minutes from time – on his 28th birthday – following a second booking, and Empoli’s Rade Krunic almost made the advantage count before the video assistant referee determined the ball hit Dimitri Oberlin in the arm just before the goal.

“The first match is over, and the best thing is the result,” Ranieri said. “We have to work a lot, but we will always score sooner or later. We have to work instead on staying focused in order not to concede. It’s not possible that we’re letting in all these goals.

“These 90 minutes hasn’t made me feel calmer, but I’m focused and positive.”

Roma moved three points behind fourth-place Inter Milan, with the top four from Serie A qualifying for the Champions League. Empoli remained a point above the relegation zone.

Ranieri was appointed as interim coach on Friday, a day after Roma fired Eusebio Di Francesco following elimination from the Champions League and a derby defeat to Lazio. In charge of Roma from 2009-11, Ranieri was fired by Fulham of the Premier League on Feb. 28.

His second spell got off to a good start. El Shaarawy fired Roma in front in the ninth minute when he curled a stunning effort into the top right corner, but Empoli leveled in somewhat comical fashion three minutes later as Juan Jesus headed the ball into his own net under very little pressure.

Empoli almost immediately scored a second, but Manuel Pasqual’s free kick bounced off the top left corner of the goal.

Roma took the lead again in the 33rd minute as Florenzi floated in a free kick from outside the right side of the penalty area and Schick headed it into the bottom left corner.

Empoli dominated as Roma’s task was made harder by the list of players missing: Daniele De Rossi, Kostas Manolas, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Cengiz Under were all injured, and Edin Dzeko, Federico Fazio and Aleksandar Kolarov were suspended.

“It was a difficult match without many men seeing that the leaders were out – those who play 90 minutes, players who give a sense of direction to the play and the team,” Ranieri said.

“I knew it would be difficult and I have to congratulate the team, which always remained compact even when we went down to 10 men.”