Getty Images

Serie A: Juventus falls, Napoli and Lazio win

Leave a comment

Juventus has fallen.

Cristiano Ronaldo was rested, and the Old Lady lost a match for the first time in Serie A play all season, stunned 2-0 at Genoa on a pair of goals in the last 20 minutes by Stefano Sturaro and Goran Pandev.

Juventus was toothless for much of the match, held without a shot on target the entire 90 minutes in just six total efforts. On the other side, Genoa collected 18 total shots, putting five of them on net despite just 40% possession.

The hosts nearly had the opener in the first 30 minutes but a penalty given for a handball on Joao Cancelo in the area, but it was cancelled after a check by VAR. They would remain dangerous throughout, and finally grab the lead in the 72nd minute through a most unlikely source.

Stefano Sturaro, off the bench just two minutes earlier for his first Genoa appearance since joining in January from Juventus on loan, scored with a bouncer from the top of the box. Nobody closed him down, and he took a feed from fellow substitute Pandev and slotted it past a diving Mattia Perin. Pandev then finished himself in the same corner with the left foot, taking a wonderful cut pass from Cristian Kouame and slotting it through to secure the win.

The Scudetto is in no danger, still 18 points clear of Napoli, but the loss is notable as Juventus was chasing an unbeaten season. Genoa moves into 12th with the win, a full nine points above the drop.

Elsewhere, Lazio and Napoli each scored four goals in wins. Amin Younes and Jose Callejon both scored inside the opening half-hour, while Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens finished off the 4-2 win over Udinese in the second half. Kevin Lasagna  and Seko Fofana both scored before the break for Udinese to level things up, but Napoli was too hot to handle holding 66% of the possession and putting five shots on target, with four finding the back of the net.

Lazio, meanwhile, hammered Parma 4-1 with all four goals coming in a dominant first half. Luis Alberto bagged a brace, including one from the penalty spot, while Senad Lulic and Adam Marusic sandwiched that with strikes of their own. The penalty for Alberto was significant not just for him, but also for Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe who saw it go right under his outstretched arm for his 24th straight penalty without a single save.

Empoli picked up an enormous win in the relegation battle, topping fellow battlers Frosinone at home 2-1 to rise out of the drop zone. Francesco Caputo and Marko Pajac picked up the winners, cancelling out a late consolation by Luca Valzania in the 70th minute. The three points moves Empoli to 25 points on the year, one above Bologna to put them in 17th. Frosinone, meanwhile, remains in 19th on 17 points.

Finally, Atalanta and Chievo Verona drew 1-1, a brutal blow for Atalanta in the chase for a Champions League place, leaving them in seventh with 45 points, five back of Inter in the final spot.

Juventus comeback downs Lazio late

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lazio pummeled Juventus all afternoon, but they failed to finish off the game and were made to pay as Juventus produced a late comeback to win 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

The home side was electric for most of the match, forcing a good Wojciech Szczesny save past the half-hour mark as a right-footed effort from Marco Parolo brought the former Arsenal goalkeeper full-stretch. Juve then required a goal-line clearance by Daniele Rugani to keep out Ciro Immobile just before halftime after Szczesny had come out to challenge the Lazio striker.

[ MORE: Full recap of Sunday’s wild Serie A slate ]

Just past the break, the hosts remained in the ascendency as Luis Alberto found acres of space at the top of the box and rifled just wide of the left post. They would finally – and deservedly – go in front on a 59th minute corner that somehow made it through the forest and surprised Juventus midfielder Emre Can who ducked to avoid the delivery but could not, instead heading it into his own net.

As Lazio pressed for a second to kill off the game, Immobile had the best chance just four minutes after the opener, fed through on goal by Joaquin Correa, but the Italian somehow blasted his right-footed effort completely off target. That was the miss of the game, as Juventus then began to mount its comeback.

All it took was one attack to put Juventus level. Substitute Federico Bernardeschi burst down the left flank and cut back for Paulo Dybala who attempted an audacious left-footed effort. Dybala’s shot had so much pace that Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha was unable to control the rebound, and it fell to substitute Joao Cancelo for the tap-in.

With the game winding down and Juventus feeling energized, they burst forward in the 87th minute and while Bernardeschi played a nice one-two with Cristiano Ronaldo down the left, Senad Lulic pulled down Cancelo by his shoulder near the penalty spot. The incident was off the ball so it took the referee crew a bit to make a decision, but ultimately they awarded Juventus a penalty and Ronaldo made no mistake for the winner.

The victory restored Juventus’s 11-point lead at the top of the Serie A table. For Lazio, the defeat is a brutally difficult one to swallow given they were arguably the better side for a good 70 minutes of the match. The win would have pushed them all the way up to fifth in the table among a crowded Champions League race, just behind fourth-placed AC Milan on goal difference. Instead, they’re forced to remain back in eighth with Fiorentina, Torino, and Sassuolo all nipping at their heels.

Atalanta beats Lazio 1-0 to boost Champions League hopes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) — The VAR disallowed a stoppage-time equalizer by Lazio in a 1-0 loss at Atalanta in Serie A on Monday, leaving the Roman club just outside the Champions League places and letting Atalanta into contention for the elite European competition.

Lazio remained one point behind fourth-placed AC Milan while Atalanta moved into sixth, one point further back.

The top four clubs qualify for the Champions League.

Francesco Acerbi met a cross from Luis Alberto with a leaping header that appeared to have drawn Lazio level but video reviews appeared to show Acerbi was slightly offside.

Duvan Zapata put Atalanta ahead one minute into the match from close range.

Anderson arrives: Can Pellegrini unlock West Ham’s potential?

whufc.com
1 Comment

West Ham United has sealed another impressive deal, adding $48 million winger Felipe Anderson from Lazio.

It’s a club record deal from the Irons, whose ambitions have been short-circuited in recent seasons by stop-start play under Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Now Manuel Pellegrini is in charge, and has made a series of purchases including Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Issa Diop, and Jack Wilshere amongst others.

Anderson was fantastic for Lazio last season, though he was part of a loaded attack with Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Malinkovic-Savic.

Now the challenge is gelling quickly inside a short window. As we’ve seen in the past with markedly changed mid-table sides — see: Everton’s 2017-18 season — hitting the ground running is key.

Players have been convinced of West Ham’s ambition. Here’s the latest, Anderson, from WHUFC.com:

“West Ham is a club with a lot of tradition, lots of great players have played here, like Bobby Moore, Carlos Tevez and Di Canio. They were great players and idols here, and I’m aiming big, who knows, maybe I could hit their heights and be a legend here too.”

But turning that into on-field success and in-room culture has been a challenge. The move to London Stadium didn’t help, and managerial instability has been anything but a boon to the Irons. There have been plenty of self-inflicted wounds, too.

West Ham’s lineup could be frightening, even in the face of injuries to Andy Carroll (surprise!) and Winston Reid. But managing egos new and old is a challenge, which is why the Pellegrini hire could be a masterstroke.

Consider this possible XI from Pellegrini, who largely operated his Manchester City with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 with two holding/defensive/deep-lying center midfielders (There have been rumors West Ham could sell Cheikhou Kouyate).

There are a lot of options for Pellegrini’s front four. Anderson and Yarmolenko both prefer right wing, while Arnautovic likes the left but has proven adept as a center forward if Pellegrini becomes the latest manager to eschew the idea of Javier Hernandez up top. Manuel Lanzini‘s injury does seem to put Wilshere in the No. 10 role.

Fabianski

Fredericks — Diop — Balbuena — Masuaku

Obiang — Kouyate

Anderson — Wilshere — Yarmolenko

Arnautovic

So the ingredients are there, with Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Zabaleta, and Jordan Hugill joining Chicharito in keeping training competitive.

But Pellegrini will have to navigate a culture that saw a seedy finish to the season, with protests and ugly incidents amongst supporters and players on the field in London.

And he does seem the man for the job. But if he can’t do it… well, stay tuned.

Europa League preview: Ranking the comeback bids

AP Photo/Tim Ireland
1 Comment

If the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals taught us anything, it’s to not rule out comebacks.

Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinal hosts all trail heading into the second leg, and only two of them are bringing away goals back to the crib.

[ MORE: Buffon rips referee Oliver ]

All matches kick off at 3:05 p.m. ET.

4. CSKA Moscow 1-4 Arsenal

The hosts have scored three or more goals just five times this season, and they’d need to blank the Gunners for three goals to do the trick. Throw in Arsene Wenger‘s motivation to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, and the odds are not in their favor.

The read: Extremely unlikely

3. Sporting Lisbon 0-2 Atletico Madrid

Scoring two against Atleti is a rarity, only happening six times this season. But Sporting has the horses, from 31-goal man Bas Dost to versatile Bruno Fernandes and Gelson Martins.

The read: Not impossible, but a big ask.

2. Red Bull Salzburg 2-4 Lazio

Two away goals is a nice pull, but outscoring Lazio by a pair requires keeping a lid on Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

The read: Puncher’s chance.

1. Marseille 0-1 RB Leipzig

The read: To win by two goals at home is not absurd for OM.