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Serie A: Inter hangs on, Koulibaly bags Napoli brace

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Inter struck twice in the opening half and hung on from there as they top Frosinone 2-1 for a critical boost in the Champions League race. Radja Nainggolan opened the scoring inside the opening 20 minutes, heading home a Danilo D’Ambrosio cross to put Inter one-up. They went 2-0 in front as Ivan Perisic finished from the spot after Raman Chibsah wrestled Milan Skriniar to the ground in the box.

Frosinone grabbed one back just past the hour mark as Francesco Cassata rifled a low shot from the top of the box that went off the hand of a diving Samir Handanovic, but Inter clung to its lead, finishing with 72% possession and an 18-12 shot advantage. The win pushes third-placed Inter to 60 points, five points above fourth-placed AC Milan in the last Champions League place.

Center-back Kalidou Koulibaly picked up a brace as Napoli moved seven points adrift in second place with six matches to go by beating Chievo Verona 3-1. The Senegalese international shook off a defender on his back to head home a corner in the 14th minute to open the scoring. Arkadiusz Milik doubled the lead just past the hour mark with a looper from outside the top of the box, and Koulibaly put the game away with nine minutes to go, again off a corner that was only partially cleared, blasting a left-footer into the back of the net. Chievo picked up a late consolation from Bostjan Cesar but that was all they could muster out of their four shots on target.

Simone Zaza scored on the doorstep and then was sent off as Torino drew nine-man Cagliari 1-1. Three total players were sent to the showers, including Zaza who put Torino in front in the 52nd minute before earning a key red 20 minutes later. His goal, the third league strike of his campaign, came off a rocketed baseline cross from Armando Izzo, and thanks to the power on the cross, Zaza just had to make contact from five yards out to redirect it into the back of the net.

The 27-year-old was then sent off for what appeared to be dissent after an innocuous foul. The moment was key, as Leonardo Pavoletti used the man advantage to bring Cagliari back level just two minutes later with a header. While the goal was initially ruled out for offside, VAR confirmed it as a legal score. While Cagliari saw two men sent off from there, both for second yellow cards, the match ended level, a big blow for Torino in the chase for a European position as the point pushed them two back of sixth-placed Atalanta who still has yet to play.

36-year-old Fabio Quagliarella played provider and finisher as Sampdoria topped Genoa at home 2-0 to slide into ninth place, four points back of a European place. Gregoire Defrel put the hosts up for good in just the third minute, sliding in to poke home a baseline cross from Quagliarella. The captain then scored himself in the 53rd minute, striking from the penalty spot after Davide Biraschi was sent off for a handball in the box as the ball bounced up and hit his outstretched arm.

Fiorentina whipped off 15 shots to Bologna’s four, but neither side could find the back of the net as it finished 0-0 at Artemio Franchi Stadium. The disappointing season for Fiorentina continued, remaining in 10th on 40 points, eight back of ninth-placed Sampdoria.

Sassuolo and Parma also drew 0-0 as both sides stayed put in the bottom half of the table. Sassuolo dominated the match, holding 72% possession and ripping off 20 shots to just three for the visitors.

LIVE – FA Cup semifinal between Man City, Brighton

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Manchester City can take the penultimate step to another piece of hardware when it takes on Brighton and Hove Albion in an FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Man City-Brighton ]

City last won the FA Cup in 2011, and has already won the League Cup this season. Pep Guardiola‘s men remain alive for the Premier League and UEFA Champions League titles as well.

Brighton last played in the FA Cup Final in 1983, its only appearance. The Seagulls lost to Manchester United after a replay.

LINEUPS

Man City: Ederson, Mendy, Laporte, Otamendi, Walker, Gundogan, Bernardo, Silva (C), De Bruyne, Sterling, Jesus. Subs: Muric, Danilo, Stones, Fernandinho, Sane, Mahrez, Foden.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo, Stephens, Propper, Bissouma, Knockaert, Murray, Jahanbakhsh. Subs: Button, Bruno, Bong, Burn, Izquierdo, Locadia, Andone.

Inter holds off AC Milan for 3-2 derby win

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Inter lept AC Milan into third in the Serie A table with an exciting 3-2 win at the San Siro over AC Milan.

The result not only saw the two sides swap places in the table, but also ended a 10-match unbeaten run by AC Milan in the series.

Matias Vecino bagged the opener just three minutes in to put Inter in front, with the easiest of tap-ins after Ivan Perisic sent in a curling cross to the far post where Lautaro Martinez was waiting, and his contested header came back across the face of goal to Vecino on the doorstep.

That would be the score at halftime, but just six minutes after the break Stefan de Vrij produced a fabulous header as Inter played a short corner, working a delivery for Matteo Politano which saw de Vrij rise highest to meet it and float his header inside the near post.

Tiemoue Bakayoko, in better form since the turn of the calendar year, pulled AC Milan one back just six minutes later with his first AC Milan goal as he powered home a header off a laser beam free-kick from Hakan Calhanoglu straight down the center. It seemed the game was destined for a wild finish until Samu Castillejo felled Matteo Politano in the box, and Martinez deposited the penalty powerfully for a 3-1 Inter lead.

AC Milan again pulled within one as Mateo Musacchio finished off a messy goal in the 71st minute, but they could not find a way back level despite heavy pressure forward. In the dying seconds of stoppage time, Samir Handanovic was required to produce a wonderful reflex save on a Castillejo header at the far post, and Danilo D’Ambrosio blocked an even later shot from Patrick Cutrone before the final whistle.

Inter’s win is vital, given they had occupied the final Champions League spot and were looking over their shoulder to fend off Roma, Lazio, and Atalanta, but now that is AC Milan’s problem. Inter moves into third on 53 points, seven back of second-placed Napoli, while AC Milan remains on 51 points, six above fifth-placed Roma.

Guardiola loving life as ‘bold’ Man City advances

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There’s no much for a manager to say after his side beats another 7-0 on the day, and 10-2 on aggregate.

So don’t judge Pep Guardiola too harshly for his words following Manchester City’s Tuesday demolition of Schalke in the UEFA Champions League.

[ RECAP: Man City 7-0 (10-2 agg.) Schalke ]

“It was a clear result,” Guardiola said. “We are happy to get to the quarter-finals. We didn’t start that well, we were a bit scared to play. But after it went 1-0, we relaxed and decided to play and be aggressive.”

Sergio Aguero scored twice for Pep’s men, with Leroy Sane, Raheem SterlingPhil FodenGabriel Jesus, and Bernardo Silva also finding the back of the net.

With Danilo on his back line and both Foden and Fabian Delph coming off the bench to get some minutes, it all went according to plan for Guardiola.

“We have a lot of injured players so we want to continue this run and get those players back fit,” he said. “Everyone has to compete with each other to play. They all want to play. Everybody tried to play, be bold and keep going.”

City can hang with anyone, and shut down Schalke despite the absence of Fernandinho, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Oh, and Kevin De Bruyne did not play either. And Riyad Mahrez was an unused sub.

So yeah, pretty much full strength (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Watch Live: Manchester City v. Watford

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Manchester City aims to grow its Premier League with a visit from Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts up top for City, who has a Champions League second leg at midweek.

Watford is locked in a battle for seventh and a place in the Europa League.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Silva, Mahrez, Sterling, Bernardo, Aguero. Subs: Muric, Danilo, Laporte, Delph, Sane, Jesus, Foden.

Watford: Foster, Janmaat, Britos, Kabasele, Masina, Femenia, Cleverley, Capoue, Doucoure, Success, Gray. Subs: Gomes, Cathcart, Holebas, Quina, Sema, Deulofeu, Deeney.