Chris Smalling

Getty Images

Serie A roundup: Belotti scores brace, Torino upsets Roma (video)

Leave a comment

Sunday’s Serie A action was marred by alleged racist abuse towards Brescia’s Mario Balotelli by traveling Lazio fans.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

AS Roma 0-2 Torino

Torino captain Andrea Belotti played hero for the visiting side as his two goals at the end of each half gave his mid-table side a crucial victory over fourth-placed AS Roma in Rome on Sunday.

The 26-year-old belted the ball into the roof of the net in first-half stoppage time and fired the ball past Pau Lopez from the spot, awarded after a lengthy VAR review for handball from Chris Smalling, in the 86th minute. 

With seven saves to his name, Salvatore Sirigu played a key role in Torino’s unexpected win.

Sirigu made a near-impossible, point-blank save save from Lorenzo Pellegrini in the second half. In the first half, Torino’s ‘keeper denied Aleksandar Kolarov in spectacular fashion, blocking the defender’s well-placed free-kick with his outstretched arms.

In addition to his two goals, Belotti squandered a pair of other chances to widen his goal count. Early on, the forward hit a routine, diagonal inside the box, only to be denied by the post.

Roma, who despite creating chances, played a lackluster game, hosts top-of-the-table Juventus, while Torino hosts Genoa in the Round of 16 of Coppa Italia on Thursday.

Elsewhere

Brescia 1-2 Lazio

SPAL 0-2 Verona

Genoa 2-1 Sassuolo

Transfer rumor roundup: Eriksen deal nearly done; Lemar to replace?

Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Friday’s biggest transfer rumors, including those involving Premier League clubs…

[ MORE: Premier League January transfer needs ]

Following up on a rumor from Wednesday, Christian Eriksen is reportedly close to completing a $26-million move from Tottenham Hotspur to Inter Milan that will take place this month. Eriksen is out of contract at the end of the season, at which point he is widely expected to leave on a free transfer. Selling him now would net Tottenham a respectable transfer fee while significantly weakening their squad through the remainder of the season.


Thomas Lemar is one potential Eriksen replacement being linked with a move to Spurs (again). The Atletico Madrid winger hasn’t shone as brightly in Spain as he previously did for Monaco, and manager Diego Simeone has refused to rule out the possibility of Lemar leaving the Spanish capital.


Norwich City defender Max Aarons is the most sought-after English player this month, with Spurs, Arsenal, West Ham United and Everton all reportedly desperate to sign the 19-year-old this month. He won’t come cheap, though, as Norwich are said to want close to $40 million.


Jerome Boateng’s time at Bayern Munich appears to be finished, with the 31-year-old German international’s name coming up in plenty of rumors of late. Arsenal are the reported favorites to land the 2014 World Cup winner, who’s recently fallen out of favor at Bayern, for a shade under $17 million.


Jadon Sancho might end up at Chelsea — or elsewhere in the PL — sometime in the near future, but it won’t be this month, as Borussia Dortmund have reportedly decided the 19-year-old winger is off-limits until the summer.


Chris Smalling is enjoying his time in Italy so much that he has reportedly told his representatives to make his loan from Manchester United to Roma a permanent transfer.

Italian newspaper condemned for ‘Black Friday’ headline featuring Lukaku, Smalling

Photo credit: Corriere dello Sport
1 Comment

Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport has been widely condemned after printing the headline “Black Friday” on top of photos of Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku and Roma defender Chris Smalling, former Manchester United teammates set to face one another in Serie A action on Friday.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

The sub-headline went on to read: “Lukaku and Smalling, former teammates at Manchester United and today idols at Inter and Roma, this is the battle within the battle tomorrow with the scudetto and a Champions League place at stake.”

Both clubs were quick to put out statements condemning the newspaper’s coverage.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Per the Guardian, an excerpt of the article which appeared to attempt to highlight Serie A’s problem with racism, saying, “We are all trying to tackle the issue of racism in Italian football,” before making a racially insensitive statement of its own:

“In the faces of those idiots who boo, tomorrow everyone must instead go ‘oooh’ like children. It will be a Black Friday, but this is not an end-of-season sale.” It went on to describe Lukaku and Smalling as “two giants of color.”

This comes less than a week after Serie A’s 20 clubs put out a joint statement “acknowledging a serious problem with racism” in the Italian game, while providing little or no concrete plan for action to rid the game of the very racism they acknowledged.

Lukaku has scored 10 goals in 14 league games since joining Inter this summer and Smalling has become a mainstay for Roma in recent months, scoring twice and leading the defense to a much improved record of goals conceded and five victories in six games.

UPDATE #2: Roma has banned Corriere dello Sport from “our training facilities for the rest of the year and our players will not carry out any media activities with the newspaper during this period.”

UPDATE: Lukaku and Smalling have each commented on the headline…

Woodward insinuates new contracts at Man United down to transfer struggles

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ed Woodward rarely speaks publicly as he leads Manchester United through a season of struggles, but his most recent words have given further ammunition to those who criticize the squad talent level.

Speaking after the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa while piled more pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Woodward was asked about the multitude of new contracts given to players at Manchester United rather than attempting to upgrade positions of weakness. His answer seemed to admit transfer window failings and that contract extensions were fallback options.

“It’s hard enough to get three players done in a transfer window,” Woodward said. “To get six or seven done is extremely difficult if you are getting proper talent. If you choose to churn every player because they are not good enough and you’re not extending contracts, you are putting yourself at risk of execution. Sometimes you have to take a broader view.”

Manchester United has signed players like Phil Jones, Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, and Ashley Young were all extended in the past calendar year, and all those players have at times heard noise about their Red Devils’ futures. Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo also received new contracts last fall. The club has also given extensions to David De Gea, Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, and Victor Lindelof, although those players have been far less criticized for their performances on the pitch.

It doesn’t help that the few players offloaded this summer have performed well overseas, as Romelu Lukaku has built a strong partnership with Lautaro Martinez at Inter Milan while Chris Smalling has helped Roma to one of the best defenses in Serie A.

“It’s a multi-year squad evolution analysis,” Woodward said, seeming to brush squad decisions off as more than just the struggles faced this season.

Serie A Roundup: Roma pummel Brescia, move top four; Lazio edge Sassuolo (video)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Inspired by Chris Smalling‘s career night, AS Roma’s dominant, 3-0 win over Brescia highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Roma 3-0 Brescia

A two-time Premier League league winner, Smalling, 30, must have a long list of “memorable” games to choose from. But after scoring once and assisting twice against bottom-dwellers Brescia on Sunday, it can be said that the Englishmen might have topped the list.

On Sunday, the defender became the first English player to score at least two goals in a single Serie A season since David Beckham.

The Manchester United loanee opened the floodgates in the 49th minute, heading Lorenzo Pellegrini’s lofting corner into the back of the net. Just eight minutes later, Roma scored a second from a corner-kick. 

This time, Smalling – keeping tabs on the last Brescia defender – headed the ball downwards, rebounding and finding defender Gianluca Mancini’s right foot, which set up for a simple volley strike past Jesse Joronen

In the 66th minute, the defender’s header found a well-positioned Edin Dzeko for Roma’s third and final of the night.

Now fourth in the Italian top flight, Roma prepare for Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday, while Brescia look for their league win in eight consecutive games against Atalanta.

Sassuolo 1-2 Lazio

With the game two minutes away from the final whistle, Lazio needed a miracle to comfortably remain in Serie A’s third spot.

Substitute Felipe Caicedo was just that, scoring I Biancocelesti’s game-winning goal in the first minute of stoppage time.

 

With the frustration of not getting a penalty call go their way minutes earlier, Luis Alberto and Caicedo paced past Sassuolo’s midfield and backline, combining with a set of back-and-forth passes. Inside the box, with position to shoot at goal, the Ecuadorian’s strike bounced over two, full-stretch defender and into the back of the net.

In the first half, Serie A top scorer, Ciro Immobile, added his 15th of the season, while the home side finished the first 45 minutes with a lot of hope, following captain’s Francesco Caputo’s tap-in.

Red-hot Lazio host CFR Cluj on Thursday in Europe League play, while Sassuolo prepare for their big game against Juventus on Sunday.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Bologna 2-2 Parma

Verona 1-0 Fiorentina

Sampdoria 2-1 Udinese