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Mitrovic has eventful first half for Serbia against Montenegro

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Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has been locked down of late at the club level, but he’s still having an eventful time of things with the Serbian national team.

A regular starter for Serbia since mid-2014, Mitrovic was back up front as Serbia had the early UEFA Nations League kickoff against Montenegro in Beograd. Just two minutes after Adem Ljajic scored the opener to put Serbia ahead in the 30th minute, Mitrovic found the scoresheet with an incredible flick at the near post that oozed confidence.

A powerful cross from Aleksandar Kolarov down the left flank found Mitrovic front a very tight angle with his back to goal and facing Kolarov. The 24-year-old lifted his right leg and flicked the ball perfectly into the top-left corner, catching Montenegro goalkeeper Danijel Petkovic completely off guard.

It would get more interesting six minutes later as a penalty was awarded to Serbia in dubious fashion, as Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic completely whiffed a shot attempt and kicked himself in the back of the ankle, going down inside the top of the box. The referee pointed to the spot believing Matic was fouled by Aleksandar Scekic, but replay showed absolutely no contact between the pair.

Mitrovic stepped up to take the penalty, and attempted a Panenka effort. He got it horribly wrong, sending the keeper Petkovic left but chipping the ball well over the bar as the ball continued to rise. A fan caught the effort from the stands at Stadion Pajko Mitic.

By halftime, Mitrovic probably should have had a hat-tric, with the penalty miss plus a pair of good chances in first-half added time, with one shot saved by Petkovic and a header missed moments later.

Altogether, Serbia picked up the win by a 2-1 score and extended its lead atop League C Group 4 to four points, all but clinching promotion to League B. For Mitrovic, his goal was the 22nd of his international career in 45 appearances, tying him with Bernard Vukas for 12th all-time for Serbia and only 16 off the all-time lead of Stjepan Bobek.

Serie A: Ronaldo sets up Juve’s comeback win over Napoli

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 7? ]

Juventus 3-1 Napoli

Three games into his Juventus career, Cristiano Ronaldo had yet to find the back of the net in Italy and the whispers quickly began: perhaps the seven-time defending Serie A champions had made a mistake by splashing out $123 million for the 33-year-old this summer. This notion was, of course, preposterous.

Fast-forward just a month, to the present day, and Ronaldo has amassed three goals and four assists in seven league appearances, including a pair of helpers during Saturday’s 3-1 comeback victory to remain perfect on the still-young season — 21 points from seven games. Dries Mertens put the visitors ahead with a tap-in from close range after just 10 minutes, but Ronaldo floated a cross toward the head of Mario Mandzukic for an easy equalizer in the 26th minute.

Ronaldo nearly got on the scoresheet himself four minutes into the second half, but his shot came back off the post. Fortunately for Juve, the ball fell to an unmarked Mandzukic with a wide open net. That made it 2-1 before Ronaldo flicked on a corner kick for Leonardo Bonucci to stab home in the 76th minute to complete the scoring at 3-1.

Roma 3-1 Lazio

Roma needed — and got — a pair of late goals to come out on top in the Rome derby on Saturday. Lorenzo Pellegrini put the home side ahead in the 45th minute, but Lazio drew level through Ciro Immobile’s 67th-minute equalizer.

The scoreline didn’t last long, though, as two more goals came from the most unlikely of sources — defenders Aleksandar Kolarov and Federico Fazio — in the 71st and 86th minutes, respectively. Despite the victory, Roma remain sixth in the league table, still a point behind their capital rivals but also only four points behind second-place Napoli.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Inter Milan 2-0 Cagliari

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Bologna vs. Udinese — 6:30 a.m. ET
Fiorentina vs. Atalanta — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Frosinone vs. Genoa — 9 a.m. ET
Parma vs. Empoli — 12 p.m. ET
Sassuolo vs. AC Milan — 2:30 p.m. ET

Kolarov blast guides Serbia past Costa Rica

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Group E opened up on Sunday with a thrilling match in Samara, where Serbia topped Costa Rica, 1-0.

It looked as if Keylor Navas wouldn’t be beat on the day, however, Aleksandar Kolarov had other ideas with his sublime free kick 11 minutes into the second half.

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It took the Serbia goal to really spark life out of the Costa Rica attack, however, the Europeans held strong and remained compact defensively to keep the Ticos off the scoreboard.

Aleksandar Mitrovic nearly gave Serbia a second finish in the final moments of the match, after Sergej Malinkovic-Savic picked out an ideal through ball to his teammate, who couldn’t find a shot on target.

Both sides struggled to find a rhythm in the opening half, despite Serbia’s dictation of pace with their strong midfield.

Mitrovic boasted the lone shot on target for the European nation, when he tested Keylor Navas in the 13th minute, while Los Ticos had a quality chance of their own a minute prior through a Giancarlo Gonzalez header from close range.

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Mitrovic was stopped again by Navas in the 50th minute after the Fulham striker found himself one-on-one with the Real Madrid keeper.

The Ticos will return to group action on June 22 against favorites Brazil, while Serbia will meet fellow European side Switzerland the same day.

Video: Kolarov hands Serbia lead with brilliant free kick

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Serbia had managed to control the match for much of the opening hour of play, but didn’t have a goal to show for it.

That was, at least, until Aleksandar Kolarov had his say in the matter.

The AS Roma man gave Serbia a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute after a stunning free kick that gave Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas no chance as he sprawled to his left.

Oxlade-Chamberlain to miss rest of season, World Cup

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This is awful news.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the rest of the season for Liverpool and England after damaging ligaments in his right knee.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, 24, injured his knee in a tackle with Aleksandar Kolarov early in Liverpool’s 5-2 win against AS Roma in their UEFA Champions League second leg on Tuesday.

In a statement released on Liverpool’s website on Wednesday they revealed the extent of the Ox’s injury.

”Liverpool FC can confirm Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 2017-18 season is over for both club and country due to a knee ligament injury sustained against AS Roma on Tuesday evening. The extent of the injury means Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to miss the remainder of the campaign for Liverpool, as well as the World Cup finals in Russia with England.

“The 24-year-old was assessed by the club’s medical team at Melwood on Wednesday morning and no specific timescale is being placed upon his return to action at this stage. However, Oxlade-Chamberlain will now begin a rehabilitation programme to enable him to reach full fitness again as soon as possible, returning to action next season.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain has reinvented himself this season in a central midfield role following his move from Arsenal in the summer of 2017.

His driving runs from midfield have caused so many problems and he was in the best form of his career over he past few months.

After struggling for so long with injures, the Ox finally had a run of six months or so without an injury and he was fulfilling his potential with big goals and performances against Manchester City in Liverpool’s wins against them in the PL an UEFA Champions League.

The fact that Oxlade-Chamberlain will have to watch on if Liverpool reach the UCL final and then again for the World Cup with England is a cruel blow.