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Associated Press

Italy and Colombia first to advance in U-20 World Cup knockouts

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The group stage is complete and the knockouts have begun, with Italy and Colombia the first two teams to advance past the Round of 16.

In the early game of the day, 20-year-old Andrea Pinamonti was the lone goalscorer as Italy topped hosts Poland 1-0 on a 38th minute penalty. Pinamonti, an Inter youth product who spent last season on loan as a regular at relegated Frosinone, delivered a Panenka penalty after Dominic Steczyk handled the ball in the box.

Poland’s best chance to equalize came just after halftime as Marcel Zylla broke away from the Italy defense and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Italian shot-stopper Alessandro Plizzari just got his foot to the shot. Otherwise, the two sides split possession and shots relatively evenly, but the Italians move on still on the hunt to match or beat their third-place finish from two years ago.

In the later matchup, Colombia and New Zealand required extra time after a 1-1 draw, and the South American side went through by way of a thrilling penalty shootout that finished 5-4 after seven takers. Colombia got an early strike 11 minutes in from 19-year-old Nacional youth product Andres Reyes who got in front of net to graze his head to a fabulous Juan Hernandez free-kick delivery that New Zealand goalkeeper Michael Woud probably should have claimed.

The All Whites leveled things up in the 35th minute as Elijah Just, a 19-year-old heading to play in the Norwegian second tier next season, got to the end of a low Liberato Cacace ball into the box. Colombia remained on top throughout the second half and had numerous chances down the stretch of regulation but couldn’t find the back of the net. After the end of extra time, a thrilling penalty shootout that featured five saves, a miss, and a retaken penalty.

All told, in the seventh round of spot-kicks, Colombian goalkeeper Kevin Mier saved Matthew Conroy’s effort and Colombia took hold of the shootout, sending New Zealand home.

Colombia advances to take on the winner of Ukraine and Panama, while Italy has a tough task ahead, matching up with the winner of Argentina and Mali.

De Rossi pens emotional farewell to Roma fans before final match

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After 18 years with the club, Daniele de Rossi is playing in his final AS Roma match on Sunday before his contract expires.

Ahead of the game, the 35-year-old midfielder wrote a detailed thank you to fans, team employees, and teammates before his sendoff. “Please, let me say thank you to everyone at Roma that I came to know,” he said before beginning his list of appreciation.

First, Rossi credited his playing mentor Damiano Tommasi, who was at the club from 1996-2006 and made 262 appearances for Roma. The midfielder suffered a knee injury in 2004 which saw Rossi break into the team full-time after making his professional debut in 2002. “[to] Damiano, without whom I would certainly have made fewer appearances for this club,” de Rossi wrote.

He also thanks former captain Francesco Totti by saying, “Thank you to Francesco. The captain’s armband I wore was inherited from the arm of a brother, a great captain and the most incredible footballer I have ever seen wear this shirt. Not everyone gets to play alongside their idol for 16 years. Now, with respect, I will pass this armband on to Alessandro [Florenzi]. Another brother, one that I know is equally worthy of the honor.”

De Rossi mentions Davide Astori, the Fiorentina player who passed away tragically in March of last year, saying, “Thank you Davide, I know you will be alongside me for the rest of my life too.” He also thanks Roma academy director Bruno Conti, saying, “[to] Bruno, who saw something special in me and brought me into this club’s fantastic academy.”

Finally, he thanks the Roma supporters, saying, “Thank you to every Roma fan, my fans. Today, at least, I’ll allow myself to call you ‘my fans’ – because I was one of you, out there on the pitch, and the love you have always shown me helped me to keep on doing that. You are all the reason why I chose this city, this life, time and time again. Sunday will be the 616th time I make that choice, the right choice.”

The emotion poured out in the final paragraph of his letter, referencing a tough time in Roma history where the club finished outside the top four for the third straight season and lost in the Coppa Italia final to Lazio. “A few years ago, May 26 became a day where we all thought we would never be able to smile again. I thought that too, at least until I saw a tattoo one fan had inked that read, ’27 May 2013, and yet the wind continues to blow’. I don’t know the owner of that particular tattoo, but I do know that the wind will still blow again on this May 27. I have never felt your affection like I have done in these last few days, it has truly overwhelmed me and touched me to my core.”

“Never have I seen you all united for a cause like you have been for this. But now, the greatest gift you can possibly give me is to leave that pain and anger to one side, and start again in full support of the only thing we all care about, the one thing that comes before everyone and everything – Roma.”

What a legend this man is. Roma sure knows how to produce a type of player not seen much around the rest of the world.

U-20 World Cup Rewind: Italy tops Mexico, host Poland falls on Day 1 (video)

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Italy opened the FIFA Under-20 World Cup with a bang, knocking off fellow Group B favorite Mexico, 2-1, in Gdynia, Poland.

It only took Italy three minutes to get on the board, as Davide Frattesi found a pocket of space in front of the El Tri backline and dribbled in on goal. The Sassuolo midfielder then decided to fire on goal from distance, hitting a rocket into the corner to give Italy a 1-0 lead.

Later in the first half Gianluca Scamacca also took a rip from outside the box, but his strike sailed just wide.

A defensive error on a corner kick gave Diego Lainez and Mexico life. In the 37th minute, AC Milan product Alessandro Plizzari committed a howler, coming out to punch away the curled corner kick. Plizzari missed the ball and it went right to the head of Roberto De La Rosa, who calmly made it 1-1.

El Tri however suffered a blow late in the match as Italy took back the lead. In the 67th minute, Luca Ranieri collected the ball on the edge of the six yard box and from a tight angle, he scored past Mexico goalkeeper Carlos Higuera.

For Mexico, it’s a rough way to start the World Cup, having to go against a perennial power in Italy and playing on European soil. Not all is lost for Mexico, but it has to rebound with a win in its next game against Japan.

Elsewhere, Colombia defeated host Poland, 2-0, Japan tied Ecuador 1-1, and Senegal beat Tahiti, 3-0.

La Liga and Serie A: Godin’s Atleti goodbye, Real lose again; Roma beat Juve

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings of the 2018-19 season ]

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Sevilla

Captain Diego Godin made the 388th appearance of his nine-year Atleti career on Sunday, marking the final time he’ll take the field in the Spanish capital for Los Rojiblancos. Godin was honored by a capacity crowd, all on their feet, after the game.

Koke put second-place Atleti ahead in the 30th minute. Pablo Sarabia drew sixth-place Sevilla level in the 70th.

Real Sociedad 3-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid suffered their 11th league defeat of the season (17 across all competitions, for the first time since 1998-99) after going 1-0 up in the 6th minute, courtesy of Brahim Diaz, and being reduced to 10 men in the 39th (Jesus Vallejo).

Mikel Merino (26th minute), Joseba Zaldua (57th) and Ander Barrenetxea (67th) got the goals for eighth-place Sociedad.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Barcelona 2-0 Getafe
Valencia 3-1 Alaves
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Celta Vigo
Leganes 0-2 Espanyol
Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Real Valladolid
Girona 1-2 Levante
Real Betis 2-1 Huesca


Roma 2-0 Juventus

Roma’s quest for Champions League qualification got a massive, and somewhat unexpected, boost in the form of a victory over champions-elect Juventus. Claudio Ranieri‘s side were three places and four points off fourth place, but now they sit just two place and one point back of Inter Milan with two games left to play.

Alessandro Florenzi (79th) and Edin Dzeko (90th+1) did all of Roma’s damage late against a full-strength Juve side. Following a disastrous start to the season (just five wins from their first 15 games), Roma have righted the ship and are now unbeaten in their last seven league games and have lost just three of their last 19.

Elsewhere in Serie A

SPAL 1-2 Torino
Torino 3-2 Sassuolo
Frosinone 1-3 Udinese
Sampdoria 2-1 Empoli

Serie A: Juventus secures Scudetto, AC Milan and Roma both slip

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A massive day in the jam packed Serie A Champions League race nearly saw AS Roma take over the fourth spot in the table from AC Milan, but Inter came to the rescue to save their rivals’ coveted spot.

AC Milan held the fourth and final Champions League spot coming into the day, but slipped with a 1-1 draw at 14th placed Parma, only able to put three of its 15 shots on target and conceding an 87th minute on a free-kick by Bruno Alves that left Gianluigi Donnarumma completely frozen, unable to reach his near post.

That cancelled out a 69th minute header by Samu Castillejo at the near post that perfectly deflected across the face of goal and under the crossbar into the back of the net. Otherwise, however, AC Milan was toothless in the attack. They completed just three of 11 attempted one-on-one take-ons and only seven of their 110 completed attacking-third passes were in the penalty area.

With the door open, Roma looked to have taken advantage with an early lead over third-placed Inter. Stephan El Shaarawy opened the scoring 14 minutes in, a beautiful curling right-footed effort from well outside the box that found the inside of the far post. It stayed that way past halftime but Inter struck back through a diving header by Ivan Perisic at the back post just past the hour mark. The scoreline remained 1-1 the rest of the way, leaving Roma still out of the top four, a single point back of AC Milan with Atalanta and Torino two behind Roma.

While a formality for some time now, Juventus took care of struggling Fiorentina 2-1 at home in comeback fashion thanks to an own-goal from German Pezzella. That confirmed their eighth straight Serie A title, leading by 20 points over Napoli with five matches to go. Juve fell behind in the ninth minute when a scrum in front of net saw the ball squirt out to Nikola Milenkovic for an easy finish into an open net. Juve weathered Fiorentina hitting the post before Alex Sandro leveled things up prior to halftime with a fabulous near-post header from an incredibly difficult angle.

Elsewhere, Lazio fell at home to Chievo Verona, effectively dropping them out of the crowded Champions League race. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was sent off in the 34th minute for a moment of petulance, kicking out at Mariusz Stepinski. That left Lazio with a personnel disadvantage for nearly an hour, and they didn’t last long, conceding twice in quick succession after halftime to Emanuel Vignato and Perparim Hetemaj who put Chievo 2-0 up by the 51st minute. Vignato’s featured a silky move just outside the top of the box, while Hetemaj headed home the eventual winner when Adam Marusic horribly misjudged a Fabio Depaoli cross. The loss for Lazio leaves them in ninth place on 52 points, five points back of fourth.

Torino remained in the hunt for a European place after a 1-0 road win at Genoa, with Cristian Ansaldi finding the back of the net in the 58th minute thanks to a wonderful late run, found on a lay-off after great hold-up play from Alex Berenguer at the top of the box. Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu also chipped in with four saves, including a big one just after the half-hour mark diving down to his right to stop a header.

Udinese picked up a valuable point in the relegation battle in a 1-1 draw with Sassuolo thanks to an 80th minute own-goal by Pol Lirola that leveled the score late. Still, after holding Sassuolo to just two shots on target, Udinese will be disappointed not to put more distance between them and 18th placed Empoli just four points back.

Empoli remained on 29 points after falling 4-2 to SPAL despite holding a 57%-43% possessional advantage throughout the match. They allowed seven shots on target by SPAL leading to a brace from Andrea Petagna plus goals from Sergio Floccari and Mirco Antenucci.