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AC Milan’s mistakes hand Italian Cup title to Juventus

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ROME (AP) AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma gifted two goals and Nikola Kalinic added an own-goal in a nightmare 4-0 defeat for the Rossoneri as Juventus claimed a record fourth straight Italian Cup title on Wednesday.

While the 19-year-old Donnarumma could not be blamed for Medhi Benatia’s opener in the final, his mistakes led to the ensuing goals from Douglas Costa and Benatia. Then Kalinic headed a corner into his own net.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 1-1 Huddersfield ]

After the final whistle, Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci and Juventus counterpart Gianluigi Buffon attempted to console Donnarumma.

“We have to accept it and realize we made our own errors,” Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said.

It was the first of two titles that Juventus is hoping to celebrate over the space of four days at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Bianconeri can clinch a record-extending seventh consecutive Serie A title with only a draw against Roma on Sunday.

“Now we have to ensure the Scudetto mathematically and enjoy this extraordinary season,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

Juventus has won a total of 13 Italian Cups, at least four more than any other team.

For Benatia, the brace served as redemption after he was blamed for a goal in a 1-0 loss to Serie A rival Napoli last month.

“After my error on the marking for Kalidou Koulibaly, everyone said I was useless,” Benatia said. “I haven’t become fantastic now and I wasn’t useless then. … I gave my contribution, nothing more.”

Buffon, who is expected to retire at the end of the season, far outperformed Donnarumma, who is considered his protege.

Milan, meanwhile, missed out on a chance to justify its preseason spending spree and take home a trophy ahead of likely punishment from UEFA for financial fair play violations.

The last time Juventus had beaten Milan by at least a four-goal margin came more than 20 years ago – in a 6-1 away win in Serie A in 1997.

“The guys had an extraordinary game and deserved this win, taking nothing away from Milan, who had a good first half,” Allegri said. “In games like this you need a little time to get into gear, but we found the passing lines, the spaces opened up and naturally the technique emerged.”

After a slow-paced first half, Juventus took control when Benatia headed in from a corner.

Donnarumma then had Costa’s shot on his fingers but the ball fell through his hands.

Three minutes later, Donnarumma was preparing to collect a header from Mario Mandzukic but it again slipped off his fingers and Benatia was waiting to pounce on it.

Milan came closest when Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi nearly scored an own-goal, hitting the post with a failed clearance.

Kalinic, who has not reached expectations at Milan, then added to the misfortune by finding his own net with his back to the goal by the near post as he attempted to defend a corner.

Buffon preserved the clean sheet with successive saves on Manuel Locatelli and Fabio Borini.

AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA

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

Sporting CP suspends entire first-team squad after feud with team president

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Things are getting really, really heated in Lisbon.

According to reports across Portugal, Sporting CP will be forced to play its B team after the first team squad became embroiled in a feud with outspoken team president Bruno de Carvalho.

Following the club’s Europa League quarterfinal first-leg loss to Atletico Madrid on Thursday, Carvalho roasted the squad via Facebook, putting players like Fabio Coentrao, Gelson Martins, Fredy Montero, and Bas Dost on blast for things like missing chances and getting yellow cards.

It was an absolutely ruthless post, one that claimed the team “wasn’t focused” and that the 11 players “played like 9 many times.”Seeing bad errors by international and experienced players adds more to the suffering [of the defeat],” he claimed.

Needless to say, the squad didn’t take kindly to being called out publicly by members of the front office. The reports state the players first hoped to confront Carvalho personally at training the next day, but he never showed. Feeling like they had to save face, the players took to Instagram on Portuguese international goalkeeper Rui Patricio’s page – also posted to Coentrao’s account – to make a statement saying they are united as a squad and expressed “disgust” with Carvalho’s comments.

Somos Sporting Clube de Portugal, em nome do plantel, somos a informar o seguinte… Suamos, lutamos e honramos sempre a camisola que vestimos. Não somos perfeitos e não acreditamos em jogadores perfeitos, porque queremos sempre evoluir! Não existem jogadores nem equipas perfeitas, mas quando as coisas não correm como queremos, sabemos assumir as nossas responsabilidades. Todos nós temos de o fazer! Quando vencemos, empatamos ou perdemos… sim… porque no Futebol estes são os resultados possíveis, a responsabilidade é sempre de todos! Somos uma equipa! Somos um grupo unido de um Grande Clube onde o respeito é uma das bases necessárias a essa união. Não podemos pensar apenas no “Eu”, mas sim “Nós” e sempre na equipa, porque só assim poderemos vencer. No nosso Clube, nas seleções nacionais que representamos, sempre damos e continuaremos a dar o nosso melhor, porque o querer é uma constante. Somos profissionais, somos humanos! A nossa integridade e o nosso compromisso são sagrados! Esforço, dedicação, devoção e glória sempre! Damos o máximo pelo Sporting Clube de Portugal, damos o máximo por nós próprios enquanto equipa, individualmente enquanto atletas. Lutamos pelo nosso Clube, pelos nossos adeptos e por nós, sempre! Não há outra forma séria de estar no Futebol Profissional que não seja esta… Por esta razão, em nome de todo o plantel do SCP, espelhamos neste texto o nosso desagrado, por vir a publico as declarações do nosso Presidente, após o jogo de ontem, no qual obtivemos um resultado que não queríamos… a ausência de apoio, neste momento…, daquele que deveria ser o nosso líder. Apontar o dedo para culpabilizar o desempenho dos atletas publicamente, quando a união de um grupo se rege pelo esforço conjunto, seja qual for a situação que estejamos a passar, todos os assuntos resolvem-se dentro do grupo. Saibamos ver que, por maiores que sejam as dificuldades, ainda há muito para disputar. Temos uma recta final em várias competições e vamos, haja o que houver, unidos e coesos, dar o máximo pelo Sporting Clube de Portugal. Somos Sporting Clube de Portugal.

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“On behalf of the SCP squad, through this joint statement we express our disgust with our president’s public statements after yesterday’s game for which we did not achieve the result we desired,” the statement reads. “The lack of support at this moment from the one who is supposed to be our leader, pointing the finger to publicly blame an athlete’s performance when a group is ruled by its combined effort.”

Well, it didn’t end there. Carvalho called the players “spoiled boys” has threatened to suspend every player on the first team for replying to his comments, in a since-deleted post on his Facebook account. And according to reports, Carvalho is planning on carrying out his threat, with Sporting planning to play its reserve squad against 14th placed Pacos Ferreira on Sunday.

This is not the first time Carvalho has publicly criticized his players. Just two weeks ago after former Porto striker Andre Silva said he didn’t get along with Carvalho, the president responded by painting Silva as ungrateful.

Sporting sits third in the Primira Liga table, five points back of second-placed Porto and six behind leaders Benfica. They are just a single point above fourth-placed Braga.

Serie A fixtures postponed as Totti, Dzeko, world soccer mourn Astori

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Serie A has postponed seven weekend fixtures in a gesture of sorrow and respect for Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who passed away overnight.

The 31-year-old was found dead in his hotel room ahead of Sunday’s match at Udinese.

Astoria was a Cagliari mainstay before his time at Fiorentina, and also played for top flight power Roma after beginning his career in AC Milan’s Academy.

The center back was capped 14 times by Italy, and is mourned across Italian and world football.

Benevento captain Lucioni banned one year for doping

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ROME (AP) Benevento captain Fabio Lucioni has been banned one year for doping.

[ MORE: Plenty to prove for Big Sam ]

Italy’s national anti-doping organization made the decision Tuesday after the steroid clostebol was found in a sample taken after Benevento’s 1-0 loss to Torino in September.

Benevento team physician Walter Giorgione was banned for four years for administering the steroid to Lucioni in a spray.

Both Lucioni and Giorgione plan to appeal.

The 30-year-old Lucioni joined Benevento in 2014 and the defender helped the team move from the third division up into Serie A this season for the first time.

Benevento is last in Serie A with only two wins in 20 matches.

The ban is back-dated to October, meaning Lucioni can return early next season.

Serie A: Napoli, Juve surge ahead in title race

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Medhi Benatia scored against his old club to help Juventus beat title rival Roma 1-0 on Saturday and move to within a point of leader Napoli in one of the tightest Serie A races in years.

Earlier, Napoli fought back to beat Sampdoria 3-2 in a match in which Marek Hamsik became the club’s all-time leading scorer with his 116th.

Juventus moved four points above Inter Milan, which had a penalty saved in a 1-0 loss at Sassuolo.

Roma remained fourth, seven points behind Napoli but with a game in hand.

Benatia, who spent a season at Roma before leaving for Bayern Munich in 2014, almost did his old club a favor deep in stoppage time with a poor backpass which sent Patrik Schick clear on goal, but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny rushed out to parry with his legs.

“I’m pleased because Roma is a rival for the title,” Benatia said. “Having won with my goal is an added joy … although of course I have friends there.

“We could have finished it off but we made a couple of mistakes in attack. Then we risked a lot with my mistake, but luckily Szczesny was phenomenal. It … could have cost us a lot. We are still the team to beat.”

Juventus broke the deadlock in chaotic fashion following a 19th-minute corner. Roma goalkeeper Alisson did brilliantly to keep out Giorgio Chiellini’s header and turned Benatia’s attempt from the rebound onto the bar but couldn’t keep out the Morocco defender’s follow-up.

Another former Roma player was in goal for Juventus, with Szczesny standing in for the injured Gianluigi Buffon. He did well to deny Stephan El Shaarawy from close range.

Roma’s night was almost made worse by another ex-fan favorite, but Miralem Pjanic’s shot came off the crossbar.

Alessandro Florenzi also hit the bar for the capital club.

Napoli was behind twice before Hamsik surpassed Argentina great Diego Maradona’s tally with the winner shortly before halftime.

Sampdoria got off to a perfect start in Naples as Gaston Ramirez curled a free kick into the top left corner with less than two minutes on the clock.

Napoli leveled when Emiliano Viviano could only parry Jose Callejon’s volley and Allan fired home the rebound.

Fabio Quagliarella restored Sampdoria’s lead with a penalty after Elseid Hysaj brought down Ramirez.

It was Quagliarella’s first time back at Napoli since he revealed a stalker nightmare forced him to leave his hometown club in 2010.

Lorenzo Insigne marked his return from injury with an equalizer, volleying Dries Mertens’ chipped pass into the bottom left corner.

Hamsik made history six minutes later, still in the first half.

Allan dribbled past three players in the area before picking out Mertens, who rolled the ball across for Hamsik to tap in from close range.

The only negative note for Napoli was the dismissal of defender Mario Rui 13 minutes from time following a second yellow card.

Little more than a week ago, Inter was on top of the table and the only unbeaten team in the league.

It is now five points off the pace following a second successive defeat.

Diego Falcinelli scored the only goal 11 minutes from halftime, heading in a cross from Matteo Politano, who ran almost the entire length of the right flank.

Falcinelli needed several minutes of treatment afterward as he clattered into the post as he scored.

Icardi, who earlier missed a sitter and saw an effort cleared off the line, should have leveled five minutes after the break but Andrea Consigli saved his penalty after Francesco Acerbi’s handball.

It was a third successive win for Sassuolo, which moved five points clear of the relegation zone.

AC Milan was booed off the pitch after falling to a second successive defeat, 2-0 at home to Atalanta.

Gennaro Gattuso has just one win from his four league matches since replacing Vincenzo Montella as coach.