Andrea Ranocchia

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VIDEO: Lukaku continues tear with goal in opening 20 seconds

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Romelu Lukaku has settled in quite well since joining Inter Milan from Manchester United last summer, hasn’t he?

[ MORE: Inter Milan still chasing January deal for Christian Eriksen ]

The 26-year-old Belgian forward already has 14 Serie A goals (in 19 games) to his name, plus another four in various other competitions, including the opening goal in Inter’s 4-1 Coppa Italia victory over Cagliari on Tuesday.

Just like he hasn’t taken long to get started in his Inter career, Lukaku needed very little time to start firing on Tuesday. He struck the ball with 00:20 on the clock, and by the time it read 00:21 he had already put Inter 1-0 ahead.

That 20th-second strike stood up as the potential game-winner for more than 70 minutes, until Cagliari pulled a consolation goal back late. Fortunately for Inter, Lukaku had already bagged his second of the game (49th minute), sandwiching a supplementary goal from Borja Valero in the first half. Andrea Ranocchia tacked on a late insurance goal and Inter are through to the quarterfinals on Jan. 29.

[ FA CUP: Spurs do just enough to beat Boro, reach 4th round (video) ]

Lukaku’s early successes at Inter have been such that it almost seems impossible that he could have been anything but a similarly raging success at Manchester United. If Inter manage to do the unthinkable — dethrone Juventus by winning the Serie A title — he’ll almost certainly be remembered as the key protagonist. After Tuesday’s game, Lukaku sounded like a player who was back to enjoying the game when he gave all credit to his Inter teammates, coaches, staff and fans — translation via Google:

“Did I settle in well at Inter? The merit is of the teammates, the coach, the staff and the fans. Inter was the best option for me, I can help this team to achieve its ambitions. I am a team man, I only think of the team, not me.”

Serie A: Turkish youngster Under fires Roma back into 3rd

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ROME (AP) The rapid development of 20-year-old Turkey winger Cengiz Under is playing a big role in Roma’s revival.

Under scored his fourth goal in three matches and Roma won at Udinese 2-0 for its third straight win in Serie A on Saturday.

Roma moved into third place, two points ahead of Inter Milan, which lost at Genoa 2-0.

It’s a drastic improvement from where Roma was a month ago, when the Giallorossi were mired in a five-match winless streak that risked dropping them out of contention for the Champions League places.

“We’re getting back on track to where we were in the first half of the season,” forward Diego Perotti said.

Roma went ahead when Under unleashed a powerful, rising shot from beyond the area in the 70th.

Perotti sealed the victory in the 90th with an angled effort after Udinese gave the ball away near midfield.

Under is having a breakout month.

First, he scored after 43 seconds when Roma ended a five-match winless streak by beating Hellas Verona 1-0. Then he had a brace and also delivered an assist in a 5-2 win over Benevento last weekend.

All this after not being involved in any goals in his first 14 matches with Roma.

“He plays far more for the team than himself,” Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said of Under. “His greatest strength is being able to prepare his shot with great speed, making him difficult to close down.”

Added Perotti, “He’s very humble and he doesn’t speak Italian yet but he’s well behaved and is a great kid. He deserves all of this.”

On Wednesday, Roma visits Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.

“We’ve got to make the most of the fact they’ve had a winter break and might not be match fit,” Di Francesco said of the Ukrainian side. “They have a lot of quality in attack and are dangerous, but we shouldn’t change our attitude.”


Inter’s defense was in shambles against Genoa.

The hosts took the lead before the break when a failed clearance attempt from Milan Skriniar ricocheted off of a stunned Andrea Ranocchia, who was charged with an own goal.

Then former Inter striker Goran Pandev was left unmarked to score from the center of the area midway through the second half.

Inter hasn’t won at regional rival Genoa in more than seven years.

Chievo Verona took a big step toward avoiding relegation with a 2-1 win over visiting Cagliari.

Emanuele Giaccherini and Roberto Inglese scored late for the hosts before Leonardo Pavoletti pulled one back for Cagliari.

Chievo moved up to 14th, level on points with Cagliari, eight points above the drop zone.

Allardyce: Palace sealing PL status “a massive relief”

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Sam “Never Been Relegated” Allardyce will retain his title for one more season.

This time around he’s helmed a safety run for Crystal Palace, who buried Hull City with a 4-0 win at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

[ RECAP: Palace 4-0 Hull ]

The former Blackburn, Sunderland, and West Ham boss saw his team dip into the drop zone early in his tenure, but spearheaded a magnificent run of form that culminated with Sunday’s safety-sealing win.

Here are his thoughts:

“It’s a massive relief. That’s for sure. We all know the implications of relegation today and the devastation it causes to a football club. This football club has been in the Premier League for five or six years and wants to grow.

“Tactically we set up to nullify Hull City and really just expose them where we thought they are weak. They held a high line so we put a quality ball behind and obviously that’s a great start.”

That quality ball was a back pass from Michael Dawson of which Andrea Ranocchia made quite a mess, but we shouldn’t begrudge Allardyce his moment in the sun.

He’s done it again, and also lauded his staff and everyone who works at the club for helping in the safety run. Class move from Big Sam.

Manchester City 3-1 Hull City: Hosts waltz past Tigers

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  • Man City settles in for easy win
  • Hull two points clear of drop zone
  • Delph, Aguero score

An Ahmed Elmohamady own goal was the first of three entries into the Hull City goal, as Manchester City cruised to a 3-1 win over Hull City on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium.

Fourth-place Man City sits seven points clear of Arsenal and Manchester United, who have played two less matches. Hull is in 17th, two points ahead of Swansea City.

Sergio Aguero and Fabian Delph scored for Man City, while Andrea Ranocchia netted for Hull.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Eldin Jakupovic needed to be prepared early, and he made a terrific double save on David Silva and Leroy Sane on the way to the fifth minute.

Man City was very dangerous in the first 20 minutes against packed-in Hull City, but the Tigers were waiting to pounce via counter attack. Hull went from six men on the left side of its own 18 to a quick fire counter through Oumar Niasse and Andrew Robertson that the hosts handled well enough.

Yet it was back to home control straight away, and Fabian Delph knocked down a clearance that Yaya Toure casually sent just over the bar.

The breakthrough came via own goal, as Jesus Navas’ cross swept past the head of Sergio Aguero. Elmohamady had to act before the ball reached Sane, but passed the ball into his own goal.

Aguero didn’t even celebrate his goal to make it 2-0 just after halftime, as his shot hit Elmohamady and another Hull defender before crossing the line.

Delph made it 3-0 with a classy shot from distance, and this one was tucked in and dreaming of the future with 20 minutes to go.

Claudio Bravo ruined his own clean sheet off a stoppable shot from Hull defender Ranocchia.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

PL Saturday roundup: Tighter at top, bottom

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Things got a little tighter at the top of the table on Saturday, and extremely tight in the race for 17th place.

Hull City joined Swansea City on 27 points, while Spurs closed the gap on defeated Chelsea to 7 points.

All that and more in the roundup:

Chelsea 1-2 Crystal PalaceRECAP

Cesc Fabregas scored after just four minutes, and life looked good for the Blues for a few minutes. That’s until Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha nabbed a pair of quick goals, and Palace led 2-1 at the break.

Palace were fortunate to hold back Chelsea’s ensuing barrage, and also to see Andros Townsend‘s handball in the box uncalled, but the Eagles may’ve saved their Premier League status with the win.

Liverpool 3-1 EvertonRECAP

Everton’s defensive depth was always going to be tested by the Reds, and the Toffees simply couldn’t pass that exam as Merseyside went red. Philippe Coutinho scored a wonderful goal to highlight the Reds’ offensive output, which included goals from Sadio Mane and Divock Origi. Mane was injured in the game to cast a bit of shadow on the win.

Southampton 0-0 BournemouthRECAP

The hosts were ascendant for most of this one, but had trouble finding the back of the net. Bournemouth’s bid to win at St. Mary’s for the first time ever looked to be in good shape after the introduction of Jack Wilshere helped yield a penalty, but Harry Arter‘s plant foot gave way and the attempt sailed over the frame.

Manchester United 0-0 West Bromwich AlbionRECAP

There’s little doubt the Red Devils were the better team, even without Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Juan Mata. Yet Ben Foster thrived between the sticks against his old club, and West Brom held United without a goal to hurt the Red Devils’ Top Four hopes.

Burnley 0-2 Tottenham HotspurRECAP

The Clarets held firm against Spurs’ pressure for some time, but Eric Dier took advantage of a mishit Jeff Hendrick clearance for his first goal since 2015. Then Son Heung-min finished a Dele Alli cross to bring Spurs to within seven points of Chelsea.

Hull City 2-1 West Ham UnitedRECAP

Andrea Ranocchia nabbed a late winner for Hull, adding offense to his stellar defensive record since arriving on loan from Inter Milan. West Ham took a lead on Andy Carroll‘s 50th Premier League goal, but Andrew Robertson scored to set the stage for Ranocchia.

Watford 1-0 SunderlandRECAP

Miguel Britos scored his first goal since joining from Napoli in 2015, boosting Watford while keeping the Black Cats rooted to the bottom of the table.

Leicester City 2-0 Stoke CityRECAP

Wilfried Ndidi scored an absolutely righteous goal, and Jamie Vardy added second half insurance as manager Craig Shakespeare became the first British manager to win his first four PL matches in charge of a side.