Romelu Lukaku

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Serie A roundup: Inter win Derby della Madonnina, Juventus edge Verona (video)

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Inter Milan’s rampant run and Juventus’ win headline Saturday’s Serie A action.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

AC Milan 0-2 Inter Milan

The stats books following this season’s first Derby della Madonnina make two things very clear: at the moment, Inter are the best team in Milan and in Serie A.

With four consecutive victories to start the season, Antonio Conte and Co. lead Italy’s top-flight by two points.

 

After nearly being up two goals in the first half, Inter broke deadlock in the 49th minute. From a orchestrated set-piece play, marcelo Brozovic’s strike skimmed the heels of Rafael Leão, deflecting the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma, and into the back of the net. An offside call was reviewed through VAR, but the goal stood.

In the 78th minute, a short, lofted cross from Nicolò Barella found Romelu Lukaku, who headed the ball into the far post. The Belgian, who arrived from Manchester United during the summer, has scored three goals in four league games.

Dominating time with the ball didn’t do much for AC Milan, whose clearest chance came late in the second half when Theo Hernández’s strike inside the box hit the bar.

Yet to taste a draw or defeat, Inter marches on as they host Lazio next, while AC Milan travel to Turin to take on Torino.

Juventus 2-1 Hellas Verona

In a game that could have gone either way, Juventus, with its star-studded team and all, walked away with three points against 10-man Hellas Verona.

Aaron Ramsey, who made a shock switch to the Old Lady in July following an 11-year spell with Arsenal, scored his first Serie A goal. From distance, in the 31st minute, the 29-year-old’s shot deflected Verona’s Koray Gunter, beating Marco Silvestri and into the goal.
Ramsey’s goal, however, only leveled the score.
Following a missed penalty and second chance, Miguel Veloso scored what can be the goal of the week: a first-time, left-footed volley into the top corner of Gianluigi Buffon’s goal. Verona, who had a couple of clear chances in the second half, were unable to get past Buffon again.
With three points desperately needed to keep pace with Inter Milan, Cristiano Ronaldo came to the rescue. The Portuguese converted from the sport – his first of the season – following a solo run from Juan Cuadrado.

With positive momentum behind them, second-place Juventus travels to Brescia next, while Hellas Verona receive a lackluster Udinese side.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Cagilari 3-1 Genoa

Udinese 0-1 Brescia

Conte’s Inter avoids UCL upset in stoppage time

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The Champions League nearly began with an upset, as Slavia Prague led Inter Milan 1-0 into stoppage time at the San Siro on Tuesday.

But a pair of Inter loanees produced a play to tie the score in the second minute of stoppage, as Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo) curled a free kick off the bar and Nicolo Barella (Cagliari) first timed the rebound through traffic and inside the far post.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Peter Olayinka started and finished the play for Slavia Prague’s second half opener. The scorer took the ball to the end line and cut back for Lukas Provod, whose shot was saved by Samir Handanovic.

But Olayinka followed the play and took advantage of the marker who slid to block his initial pass. On the doorstep at the back post, the Nigerian smashed the ball into the top of the goal.

The goal was deserved, and the score line represented the tightness of the contest. Inter barely out shot the Czech visitors and had just a little bit more of the ball.

Romelu Lukaku nearly thumped home a header in the sixth minute of stoppage, but Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar made a fine save.

Here’s the equalizer:

Inter chairman Zhang defends fans amid racism debate

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GENEVA (AP) Inter Milan chairman Steven Zhang says the principle of non-discrimination is “embedded in the DNA” of the club, after a widely criticized response from ultras fans to striker Romelu Lukaku being racially abused at a game.

Lukaku, who is black, was targeted with monkey chants by Cagliari fans this month after the Belgium forward scored a penalty kick.

[ MORE: Almiron ends drought ]

A group of Inter fans later suggested such apparent abuse is not racist in Italy, and was a tactic they also used to unsettle opposing players.

Inter’s Chinese chairman says the club’s inclusive history makes him believe that “a lot of fans, when they did it, the intention was not bad.”

Zhang says soccer is “not for violence, it’s not for racism” and can be a force to educate people around the world.

The 28-year-old official spoke with reporters at a European Club Association meeting after he was elected to the 246-member group’s executive board.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

EURO 2020 qualifying: Germany, Netherlands seize control of Group C

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A roundup of all of Monday’s action in qualification for the 2020 European Championship…

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up against Uruguay? ]

Northern Ireland 0-2 Germany

Germany bounced back from its home defeat to the Netherlands on Friday and now sits atop Group C. Northern Ireland held the top spot in the group from the outset of qualifying, but the Germans finally drew level on games played (5) on Monday and subsequently leapfrogged them to reach the summit (12 points each).

Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig) put Germany ahead in the 48th minute with a stunning side-volley from a seemingly impossible angle, followed by Serge Gnabry‘s deft five-hole finish to beat Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the 92nd.

Estonia 0-4 Netherlands

The Ryan Babel Renaissance rumbles on, with the 32-year-old bagging a brace in the Netherland’s 4-0 thrashing of Estonia. Since returning to the Dutch side in 2017, Babel has scored five goals after going nearly a decade without an international goal (May 2008 to November 2017).

The former Liverpool (now Galatasaray) winger got the first two goals on Monday, in the 17th and 48th minutes. Memphis Depay put the game to bed in the 76th, followed by the exclamation point from Georginio Wijnaldum in the 87th.

The Dutch (9 points) sit third in Group C three points back of both Germany and Northern Ireland (with a game in hand on each) after winning twice during this international window. Prior to this round of games, they were one or two bad results from failing to qualify for a third straight major tournament.

Scotland 0-4 Belgium

Belgium (18 points) now sits just one win from booking its place at EURO 2020, thanks to a 4-0 rout in Scotland. Having conceded just one goal (to second-place Russia) in their six games thus far, Roberto Martinez’s side has asserted itself as the class of Group I.

Romelu Lukaku made it 1-0 in the 9th minute, followed by defenders Thomas Vermaelen in the 24th and Toby Aldeweireld in the 32nd, and Kevin De Bruyne in the 82nd.

Eden Hazard missed out on this round of international fixtures due to the thigh injury which has prevented him from making his Real Madrid debut.

Elsewhere in EURO 2020 qualifying

Group E

Hungary 1-2 Slovakia
Azerbaijan 1-1 Croatia

Group G

Poland 0-0 Austria
Slovenia 3-2 Israel
Latvia 0-2 North Macedonia

Group I

Russia ____ Kazakhstan
San Marino ___ Cyprus

Kompany backs Lukaku, hits out at “lack of diversity” in board rooms

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Vincent Kompany is sticking up for his Belgian teammate after Romelu Lukaku was racially abused this weekend in Italy.

New Inter Milan striker Lukaku was subject to monkey chants, and he was understandably angered by them.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up v. Mexico? ]

The shocking answer from Inter fans was that (paraphrasing here) he shouldn’t consider the chants racist because they are just aimed to rile people up.

Kompany is now player-manager at Anderlecht, and the ex-Manchester City star says we shouldn’t expect major changes in how racism is eradicated from football until there are more people in positions of power who’ve had to deal with racism in their lives.

“You are dealing with a crowd of people and decision-makers who are telling him how he should think and feel about this when you have no decision-makers who are remotely in touch with what he has experienced in his life.

“That’s the real issue, if you go through the boards at UEFA or FIFA, the Italian League or the English League there is a real lack of diversity. If you don’t have diversity in places of power like boardrooms then you can’t have the right decisions in terms of sanctions – it’s a simple as that.”

There’s a lot to that. Sure, academically anyone can appreciate the painful effects of racism, but it’s impossible to truly grasp it without having a representative voice in places of power.

Kompany has long been one of the wiser voices in world football. Frankly, he seems like a future UEFA or FIFA board member.