Jordan Veretout

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Serie A roundup: Roma hold off Napoli; Juventus remain leaders (video)

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Roma’s victory over Napoli highlight Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Roma 2-1 Napoli

On Saturday, at Stadio Olimpico, when Roma found themselves up 2-0 on Napoli, the game came to a pause. Referee Gianluca Rocchi made the decision to grab the ball and blow the whistle in the second half after Roma fans aimed racist chants at Napoli.

After a few minutes, the game resumed, and eventually, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s darting ball into the box would find Arkadiusz Milik, who extended his scoring run to four matches.

The first half had it all.

Nicolo Zaniolo opened the scoring, when his left-footed strike zoomed past Alex Meret and into the top-right corner of the goal. The 20-year-old has now scored three league goals in 11 matches. Shortly after, VAR granted Roma a penalty after concluding that Jose Callejon contacted the ball with his arm inside the box when pressured by Chris Smalling. Aleksandar Kolarov‘s penalty, however, was denied by Meret, who recorded four saves throughout the 90 minutes.

Napoli were persistent and came close several times. Giovanni di Lorenzo was denied at the goal line by a full-extended Smalling. In a matter of seconds, the visitor’s struck the woodwork twice, once by header from Milik, which was subsequently followed by a first-time volley from distance that also rattled the bar.

I Giallorossi would get a second chance from the spot in the second half. And this time they didn’t squander it.

Javier Pastore, who zipped through Napoli’s backline, saw his lofting cross crash into Fabian Ruiz’s arm. A penalty was awarded, and Jordan Veretout – on loan from Fiorentina – opened his Roma account, which ended up being the game-winning goal.

Up next for Roma, who moved to third and are only behind Inter Milan and Juventus, take on Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Europa League midweek. Napoli, on the other hand, host Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday and aim to remain perfect in Group E of the Champions League.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Tornio 0-1 Juventus

Bologna 1-2 Inter Milan

Serie A: Dybala leads Juve to win, Fiorentina draws late

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Paulo Dybala has his first goal streak of the season and Juventus won its third match in a row with a 1-0 victory over Bologna. Dybala, who has struggled in front of net this season, scored in the 3-0 win over Frosinone last time out and bagged the game’s only goal on Sunday. Juventus also struggled, with just 50% possession and a massive 18-6 shot deficit, but Dybala came off the bench for the final half-hour to grab the win.

A cross by Blaise Matuidi in the 67th minute was cut out by Filip Helander, but his clear only reached Dybala at the top of the box in space, and the Argentinian rifled into the back of the net for the lead. Juventus goalkeeper Mattia Perin was also required to preserve the win, stopping a spectacular curler from Nicola Sansone in added time. The three points great Juventus’s lead to 13 points ahead of Napoli’s match.

Napoli kept pace at the top, closing the gap back to 10 behind Juventus as they topped Parma 4-0 behind a brace from Arkadiusz Milik. The opener came from essentially nothing, with Piotr Zielinski given the ball at a tight angle on the right and Bruno Alves failed to challenge with any sincerity, leaving the Polish international to slot home into the far post. Napoli doubled the lead just as easy past the half-hour mark as Milk took a free-kick from straight on and just slid it under the wall and inside the unmanned right post.

Milik scored his second with 17 minutes to go, and that was followed by Napoli’s fourth from Bordeaux youth product Adam Ounas, Milik’s substitute with 10 minutes remaining. Despite Juve’s massive lead, Napoli has lost just one league match since the start of October, but the Sunday victory is big as it eases fans who watch a pair of 0-0 draws in league play prior to this result.

Elsewhere, Fiorentina scored 16 seconds into the match and Inter equalized five minutes later, paving the way for a wild one as both teams came from behind in a 3-3 draw. Straight off the kickoff, a long ball forward from deep fell to a streaking Federico Chiesa, and for some reason Samir Handanovic came way off his line to challenge. That left Chiesa to touch across to Giovanni Simeone with no one in net, and with Stefan de Vrij challenging the cross, he touched it into his own net for the opener. It only took Inter until the sixth minute to level things up, an equally messy goal. A poor corner saw an even poor clearance, and Radja Nainggolan just pumped the ball back into the box for Matias Vecino to rifle home against his old club on the volley.

Inter went ahead just before halftime as Matteo Politano created his own opening, cutting back onto his left at the top of the box and whipping in a curling delivery that found the back of the net past a helpless Alban Lafont. They doubled the lead thanks to VAR as the referee checked the monitor and awarded a penalty for a handball by Edimilson Fernandes on a free-kick delivery. Ivan Perisic dispatched the spot-kick and sent Inter into a 3-1 lead.

Fiorentina set the crowd alight with a Cristiano Biraghi free-kick firecracker 16 minutes from time, and the electric Stadio Artemio Franchi crowd spurred its team to a late result. In the 95th minute, the referee gave a penalty for handball, and despite a long VAR check, he stuck with his controversial decision. Jordan Veretout deposited the penalty in the 101st minute, and Fiorentina completed the two-goal comeback. The dramatic finish means Inter now sits more precariously in third, just two points ahead of fourth-placed AC Milan.

Fabio Quagliarella buried an unstoppable penalty after the hour mark and Sampdoria topped Cagliari 1-0 at Stadio Luigi Ferraris. The visitors managed just one single shot on target, and they were soundly beaten, lucky not to concede more as the hosts missed a pair of big chances to score more, including Quagliarella who saw a close-range attempt smartly saved on the doorstep just minutes before his penalty.

SPAL went on the road and earned an important point in the relegation battle as they drew 1-1 with Sassuolo. Federico Peluso met a corner with his left foot to pummel home the opener just before halftime to put the home side up, but VAR was utilized in the 66th minute to help bring terms back level. Sergio Floccari went flying in the box during a set-piece delivery, and came up screaming that he was pushed. There was initially no call, but the referee went to the monitor and awarded the spot-kick. Andrea Petagna stepped up and buried it into the top corner and SPAL went four points above the drop. They nearly won it minutes later as Felipe headed a corner across the face of goal to the far corner, but it came off the post and out.

Chievo Verona and Genoa combined for 20 shots, but created very few real chances as the two sides drew 0-0. It was an especially disappointing result for Genoa who generated just a single shot on target against the last-placed team in the Serie A table.

Serie A: Milan ends skid, Fiorentina blanks Atalanta, Gervinho scores

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AC Milan ended a three-game winless streak by storming Sassuolo 4-1. It started on a first-half breakaway goal by 21-year-old Franck Kessie. The Ivory Coast international ran on the ball from his own defensive third on a breakaway, ending in a three-on-two situation and taking it himself and firing low into the back of the net.

The visitors would score twice more by the hour mark, as Suso gave Milan its second on a fantastic curler from the top-right corner of the box soon after the break, and 23-year-old Spanish international Samu Castillejo bagged their third with a left-footed shot from the top of the box. It’s just the second win of the season for AC Milan, pushing them to 10th in the Serie A table above SPAL and Torino on goal differential.

In somewhat controversial fashion, Fiorentina moved up to 4th with a 2-0 victory over Atalanta at home. The key moment came in the 62nd minute when Federico Chiesa went down at the edge of the box under pressure from Atalanta defender Rafael Toloi. The referee pointed to the spot for a penalty, but replays showed Chiesa clearly went to ground on his own from little to no contact.

Still, Jordan Veretout buried his penalty strongly into the top-left corner, and Fiorentina took a 1-0 lead. The visitors pushed hard for an equalizer, holding 65% possession and ripping off 17 shots to Fiorentina’s seven, but Atalanta only managed to put three of those on target, and were unable to pull back level. The hosts killed off the game in stoppage time on a goal by Cristiano Biragi and they moved to 13 points, level with Sassuolo and Inter.

23-year-old Polish international Krzysztof Piatek bagged a double for Genoa three minutes apart as they win on the road at Frosinone 2-1. Both of Piatek’s goals came off poor defensive mistakes, giving him an incredible eight goals just six matches into the season, including at least one in every game thus far. His first came in the 33rd minute on a speculative long-ball into the box that met the head of Christian Kouamé who beat his defender with ease, and all Piatek had to do was turn and shoot. His second came just three minutes later as Bartosz Salamon flubbed collecting a Genoa long-ball and had his pocket picked by Kouame, who fed Piatek on the two-on-none break for an easy finish.

Former Arsenal and Roma winger Gervinho scored the game’s only goal as Parma topped Empoli 1-0. The 31-year-old scored from a tight angle on a brilliant feed from Antonino Barillà in the 33rd minute.

Bologna earned its second win of the season by beating Udinese on an 82nd minute winner by Italian U21 international Riccardo Orsolini. Federico Mattiello whipped a cutback from the right edge of the box and it hit Orsolini perfectly in stride for the finish. Previously, Ignacio Pussetto saw his 32nd minute opener canceled out by Federico Santander just before halftime.

Chievo Verona and Torino went scoreless for 88 minutes before Simone Zaza scored to earn the visitors all three points at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi. Zaza slid to finish off an absurd through-ball from Alex Berenguer seemingly out of nothing. It earned Torino its second win of the season moving them into 10th with nine points.

Serie A: Icardi, Perisic keep Inter Milan perfect; AC Milan trounced

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ROME (AP) The dynamic duo of Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic are proving unstoppable in Serie A and Inter Milan is quickly moving on from last season’s failures and upheaval.

Icardi scored his fifth goal in three matches and Perisic added another as Inter beat Serie B champion Spal 2-0 Sunday to extend its perfect start in the Italian league.

Each of Inter’s eight goals this season have involved either Icardi or Perisic, with goals or assists.

Video replays were used to set up Icardi’s first-half penalty and Perisic sealed the result three minutes from time.

Inter drew level on points with six-time defending champion Juventus, which defeated Chievo Verona 3-0 on Saturday.

Later, Napoli also had a chance to extend its perfect start at Bologna.

Big-spending AC Milan dropped its first points in a 4-1 loss at Lazio, which got a hat trick from Ciro Immobile.

Including Roberto Mancini’s surprise resignation two weeks before the season began, Inter struggled through four managerial changes in the 2016-17 campaign and finished seventh to miss out on European competition.

But order appears to have been restored with the appointment of former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti in June.

“There are three big points, especially since Inter struggled against the smaller clubs last season,” said assistant coach Marco Domenichini, who handled the post-match interviews because Spalletti lost his voice during the game.

“It’s great to have nine points but we’ve still got to improve, especially in terms of ball control,” Domenichini added.

Leonardo Semplici, the coach of Ferrara-based Spal, believes Inter will challenge Juventus and Napoli.

“They’ve got a really good and experienced manager. They’re going to battle until the end for the title,” Semplici said.

At the San Siro, Inter was in control from the start and Icardi used a quick touch to set up Joao Mario at the edge of the area when the Portuguese international was tripped by a defender.

The referee immediately pulled out a yellow card for the defender, Francesco Vicari, and then a five-minute delay ensued as the referee sought video assistance to determine if the foul occurred inside or outside the area.

Eventually, the penalty was awarded and Icardi calmly slotted his spot kick in the left side of the goal as the `keeper went the other way.

It was Icardi’s 77th goal in Serie A for Inter, placing him joint 10th on the club’s all-time list with Attilio Demaria.

After Inter’s Milan Skriniar hit the crossbar, Perisic volleyed in a cross from Danilo D’Ambrosio for his second score of the season to go along with his four assists.

Fresh off his goal for Italy in a 1-0 win over Israel in World Cup qualifying, Lazio striker Immobile was in full control at the Stadio Olimpico against remodeled Milan, which spent more than 200 million euros (nearly $250 million) in the transfer market.

Late in the first half, Immobile converted a penalty and then scored again with an acrobatic volley.

After the break, Immobile slotted inside the near post following an expert setup from Marco Parolo then provided the assist when Luis Alberto finished off a swift counterattack.

Riccardo Montolivo pulled one back for Milan in a match in which kickoff was delayed for an hour due to severe rain.

After scoring only one goal in its opening two matches – both losses – Fiorentina routed promoted Hellas Verona 5-0.

Giovanni Simeone, Cyril Thereau, Davide Astori, Jordan Veretout and Gil Dias scored for the Tuscan club, which has had to overcome the sale of nearly all of its most prized players.

Fiorentina sold Nikola Kalinic to Milan, Borja Valero and Matias Vecino to Inter Milan and Federico Bernardeschi to Juventus.

Verona had never lost by four or more goals at home in Serie A.

Also, Atalanta beat Sassuolo 2-1; Cagliari celebrated the opening of its new stadium, the Sardegna Arena, with a 1-0 victory over Crotone; and Udinese defeated Genoa 1-0 as both teams finished with 10 men.

Zlatan hat-trick sees Man United past St. Etienne 3-0

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It wasn’t exactly how Zlatan Ibrahimovic – he with a flair for the dramatic – drew it up, but he’ll take it.

Zlatan scored a hat trick as Manchester United snuck by St. Etienne 3-0 in the first leg of their Europa League matchup at Old Trafford. The French side had a number of good chances in the first half, but couldn’t capitalize to draw level, and they faded in the second half as the English club pushed them.

The star Manchester United striker delivered a close-range free-kick that clipped a defender on its way through the wall and trickled into the back of the net for the opener just 15 minutes in. The initial foul was contentious, as Zlatan looked to seek out contact to earn the set-piece.

Zlatan picked out the second as well, but he didn’t have to do any of the hard work. Marcus Rashford burst down the left past numerous green shirts, and delivered a pinpoint low ball across the face of goal to an unmarked Ibrahimovic who simply tapped home the ball.

Paul Pogba was bright throughout the match, and he nearly had United’s second on the hour mark when he undressed Jordan Veretout with a brilliant spin move and ripped a shot that beat goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier but beat the post. Pogba again came close (and probably should have scored) as Daley Blind delivered an exquisite free-kick right to the head of Pogba at the far post, but he couldn’t get the header down, instead clanging the crossbar.

St. Etienne had its best chance in the 73rd minute as substitute Nolan Roux chipped a one-on-one opportunity with United goalkeeper Sergio Romero over the crossbar with nobody else to challenge the shot. Zlatan scored his second goal shortly after.

The match pitted Paul Pogba against his brother Florentin, but it was the Manchester United star who had the better of his brother on the day as Florentin was substituted off with 12 minutes to go due to injury. Zlatan’s final came late on as he was bundled over in the box softly, and he buried the chance from the spot to put the Red Devils through without a doubt.