Alex Meret

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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.

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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

Napoli scores on late penalty, rare Van Dijk error in 2-0 win

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The good news is that Liverpool lost to Napoli last season in the UEFA Champions League, then went on to win the whole darn thing.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Jose Callejon won a late penalty that Dries Mertens converted, and Fernando Llorente took advantage of a Virgil Van Dijk error to pad the lead as Napoli held serve at home with a 2-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeepers immense: No, he’s not Alisson Becker, but Adrian is probably the biggest reason Liverpool didn’t open its UCL defense with a blowout loss. He made a pair of early stops on Dries Mertens before a show-stopping effort in the second half. Napoli got two fine saves from Alex Meret, including a terrific denial of Mohamed Salah in the 65th.

2. Salah, Mane can’t deliver in key moments: Take away Salah’s penalty in the UCL Final, and Liverpool’s two top threats have not accounted for a goal in four matches inside the competition. Mane was mostly good on the day, but misled Salah on an early second half pass which would have almost certainly been a goal. Salah simply had an off day

3. Callejon sells the drama: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson lost a 50/50 with Jose Callejon, who ran into the fulback and hit the deck to win a penalty. That was the difference here, as Mertens beat Adrian.

Man of the Match: Meret was especially good, the 22-year-old Italian goalkeeper big in several key moments to edge Mertens for the honor.


Napoli thought it had gone ahead through El Tri star Hirving Lozano, who nodded over the line following two Alisson Becker saves on Dries Mertens, but the Mexican was offside.

Sadio Mane had a 20th minute chance at the other end, but pumped a point blank low shot to Napoli keeper Alex Meret which led to a corner kick.

Fabinho intervened in the 53rd minute as Napoli emerged from the locker room with energy, but the best chance of the early second half was flubbed in uncharacteristic fashion: Sadio Mane was through 2v1 with Mohamed Salah but made a miserable pass to his teammate.

The first goal arrived when Callejon tapped the ball past Robertson and leapt into the defender to earn a penalty from referee Felix Brych.

It was 2-0 in stoppage time when Fernando Llorente ran onto a Virgil van Dijk error and passed beyond Adrian.

Serie A: Juventus survives to beat Napoli, Torino and Atalanta both stroll

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Juventus survived a late scare to top Napoli and essentially wrap up the Serie A title, winning 2-1 to open up a massive 16-point lead at the top of the table.

On the road in Naples, Juve took a two-goal lead before the break, both coming after Napoli was reduced to 10 men. A horrible back-pass from Kevin Malcuit saw Cristiano Ronaldo clean through on goal, so Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret came charging out of the 18-yard box to challenge. Ronaldo touched to his left, leaving Meret grasping at nothing but air, and while the two never made contact, Ronaldo had nowhere to go but up and over the sprawled goalkeeper before crashing to the ground, and the call was easy for the referee as he sent Meret off.

Juventus immediately took the lead on the ensuing free-kick as Miralem Pjanic sent it just barely over the wall and into the top-left corner. They doubled the lead soon after when Emre Can headed home a 39th minute cross by Federico Bernardeschi.

After the halftime break, things got dicey for the league leaders. Pjanic was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for a handball in midfield, a harsh call after Allan‘s looped pass hit him quickly, with little time for the Juve midfielder to react. With the game at 10 v. 10, Napoli made things interesting as Lorenzo Insigne’s cross met Jose Callejon at the back post to make it 2-1, with the Spaniard beating Georgio Chiellini.

Napoli was given a chance to get back level as the referee used VAR to give the hosts a penalty for a Alex Sandro handball. It was yet another harsh decision with Fabian Ruiz powering the ball straight into the Juve defender’s arm. Still, the referee pointed to the spot, but Insigne’s penalty came off the post and with hit the chance for Napoli to earn a result.

Elsewhere, Fabio Quagliarella scored twice inside the opening 15 minutes to lead Sampdoria to a 2-1 win over SPAL. His first was a brilliant finish, meeting Bartosz Bereszynski’s looped cross with an acrobatic scissor-kick that powered the ball into the ground and into the back of the net. His second came just seven minutes later with a towering header, and that was all the visitors needed. SPAL had a goal disallowed in the 67th minute for offside, and that proved decisive as Jasmin Kurtic would scupper the clean sheet in stoppage time, but it was ultimately nothing more than a consolation. Sampdoria moves to ninth in the Serie A table with the win, while SPAL remains five points above the relegation zone in 16th.

Torino needed 73 minutes to find the opener, but once they did the floodgates opened as they topped Chievo Verona 3-0. Andrea Belotti delivered a long-range missile with his right foot to break the deadlock, and while Torino saw the rest of the game out, they added the cherry on top in added time. In the 92nd minute Thomas Rincon made it 2-0 on a similar strike to Belotti’s opener, and Simone Zaza had the third a minute later as he beat Marco Andreolli to a bouncing back-pass and put the game away.

Atalanta fell behind Fiorentina just three minutes into the match, but they stormed back at home to win 3-1 behind goals from Josip Ilicic, Alejandro Gómez, Robin Gosens to move eighth in the table on 41 points, level with Torino but behind them on head-to-head.