Alexis Sanchez

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Serie A roundup: Inter stay perfect, Ronaldo scores in Juventus win (video)

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Antonio Conte‘s new-look Inter Milan, who are on a six-game winning streak, headline Saturday’s Serie A action.

Sampdoria 1-3 Inter Milan

Who would have guessed? Inter Milan are unrecognizable – for the better – under the 50-year-old manager. On Saturday, Inter thumped Sampdoria  3-1, extending their winning streak to six games – a perfect start to the new season.

Loanee Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal with the Black and Blues, only to get sent off for yellow card accumulation a minute into the second half.

Down 2-0, Jakub Jankto pumped in hope into the home side, turning and quickly striking the ball with his left foot into the back of the net. It was the first goal Inter had allowed in three league games.

If Conte’s sides are known for something, though, it’s a well-balanced scheme. When Sampdoria gained control and pragmatism in the second half, Inter’s defensive stability helped contain the visitor’s lead.

And in the 61st minute, Nicolo Barella sealed it for Inter with a second-chance tap-in in the six-yard box.

Inter’s first true test comes midweek as the Italian giant meets Barcelona at the Camp Nou in Champions League play. Sampdoria, on the other side, prepares for Hellas Verona.

Juventus 2-0 SPAL

There’s Inter Milan, and then there’s Juventus. With 16 points after six games, the Old Lady is at the heels of Conte’s side. On Saturday, they, too, took care of business, winning 2-0 at home against SPAL.

In midair, following a light bounce, Miralem Pjanic’s strike curled into the top left corner of Etrit Berisha goal, who recorded eight saves throughout the 90 minutes. It was halftime, and Juventus were up 1-0.
In the second half, Juventus continued their dominance, possessing the ball 67 percent of the time and recording 12 shots. Following a whipping cross from Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo headed home his third goal of the season in the 78th minute.

A Champions League match Bayer Leverkusen are next in the queue for Juventus. But just days later, they’ll have a legitimate chance to take first place in the table as they travel to Milan to take on Inter. SPAL prepare for to take on Parma next.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 1- 4 Atalanta

Conte preens after 10-man Inter stays perfect ahead of Juve tilt

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Antonio Conte is showing his feathers after Inter Milan overcame an Alexis Sanchez red card to beat Sampdoria 3-1 on Saturday.

Alexis, who scored in the match, was shown a second yellow card for simulation in the 46th minute. Inter led 2-0 at the time, but held on to improve its league record to 6-0. Inter still had 55 percent possession against Serie A’s surprising bottom dwellers.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Conte, of course, was a Premier League champion at Chelsea, but forced out of the club for Maurizio Sarri. He seems pretty thrilled to speak to his tactical acumen after the win. From football-italia:

“I am a coach who always gives a precise idea of football to his team. I seem to set the fashion, because when I went to England, nobody played with three at the back, then even the England team started playing that way. I come back to Italy and we’re seeing more teams with three-man defenses.”

“(The red card) would’ve killed any team, but not us. I seem to set the fashion in tactics.”

Conte boasts three Serie A titles with Juve, a Serie B crown from Bari, and his Premier League championship from Chelsea. Imagine his swagger if Inter ends Juve’s incredible 8-year scudetti run.

Inter hosts Juventus a week from Sunday.

Conte’s Inter stays perfect, follows up derby win with defeat of Lazio

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The Nerazzuri are humming.

Inter Milan beat Lazio on Wednesday to move to 5-0 in Serie A, continuing a perfect league start for Antonio Conte in his first job since leaving Chelsea.

[ ROUNDUP: Insane League Cup match day yields ‘cupsets’ ]

Not too far removed from winning the Premier League but skipping town under a label of “not attacking enough” for Blues owner Roman Abramovich, Conte is rolling with the big-investing Nerazzurri.

Danilo D’Ambrosio scored Inter’s goal on Wednesday, which came four days after a 2-0 defeat of derby rivals AC Milan.

“You won’t move my position,” Conte said of the club’s title possibilities in a league dominated by Juventus, who they play in two weeks.

“You saw the difficulties we had in the first half. At the same time, getting five wins out of five shows the hard work is paying off and the mentality is becoming consolidated. I am sure the moment we get a bad result, the critics will come piling on, but we are ready.”

Alexis Sanchez got onto the field in the win.

The 30-year-old has played just 18 minutes for Inter, eight of them coming Wednesday. That’s one day after Conte said this about the Chilean.

“For him it is worth the words I give for everyone else,” Conte said before the match. “When I see ready players, they will be inserted [into the starting line-up]. I have to work in the interest of Inter, not of individuals.”

Given Sanchez’s track record, it’s hardly a surprise to see Conte choose other players over the Chilean. Injuries and form limited him to five goals and nine assists in 45 career games for United, far off his 80 and 45 in 166 with Arsenal.

While Alexis could still rebound and snare his former status, it seems like he’s going to need to either rip up that big money contract — he’s on the books at Old Trafford until 2022 — and go somewhere that wants him. Otherwise, he’d have to go the China, MLS, or Chinese Super League route.

Knowing Alexis, the latter seems likely.

Serie A roundup: Inter edge 10-man Udinese

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Napoli and Inter Milan walked away winners in Saturday’s Serie A action.

Inter Milan 1-0 Udinese

After three games, Antonio Conte‘s spell at Inter Milan remains in immaculate shape.

According to the table, there is no better team than I Nerazzurri, who have won their first three league matches – notching seven goals and conceding only one along the way. In other words, the Italian’s astute coaching style remains effective.

Despite, Inter’s convincing play throughout the 90 minutes, only a goal would separate them from visiting Udinese, who played a with 10 players from the 35th minute on, following Rodrigo De Pual’s slap to the back of Antonio Candreva’s head.

In the 44th minute, Stefano Sensi – one of the smallest players on the field – headed the ball into the back of the net. Late in the game, Alexis Sanchez nearly scored in his Inter debut.

In the end, Udinese were no match for Antonio Conte and Co., who find themselves in prime form heading into their Champions League return midweek.

Up next for Inter in league play: Derby della Madonnina. Udinese, on the hand, host Brescia.

Napoli 2-0 Sampdoria

Dries Mertens is the gift that keeps on giving for Napoli.

To be exact, the Belgian gifted his team two goals on Saturday. 13 minutes in, following a perfectly-placed cross from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Mertens’ first-time strike was unstoppable for Emil Audero.
Emiliano Rigoni had Sampdoria’s best chance of the night in a one-on-one opportunity with Alex Meret. The Argentine, however, wasted one of the visiting side’s two chances all night.
Then in the 67th minute – with some luck on his corner -Mertens completed his brace off a deflected shot, giving his team their second win of the season.

Quick turnaround for Napoli as they host Liverpool midweek before traveling to take on Lecce in league play, while Sampdoria take on Torino next.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Fiorentina 0-0 Juventus

Solskjaer admits Man United “one down” in striker department

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21-year-old Marcus Rashford. 17-year-old Mason Greenwood. That’s it.

Those are all the true strikers on the Manchester United first team.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had no choice but to admit the club is thin in the frontman department, ahead of Manchester United’s clash with Southampton at St. Mary’s. “We are one down, to be fair, but we just didn’t find the right one,” the Red Devils manager said in his pre-match press conference. “We didn’t find the answer that we wanted.”

Solskjaer is completely, unequivocally right. And yet, his words are also utterly baffling.

Manchester United did the unthinkable this summer – they sold two valuable attacking players without identifying a replacement. Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were both offloaded to Inter Milan, the latter of which on a loan deal that did not include an option to buy.

Both players offloaded seemed on their way out. Lukaku had struggled to make his mark at Old Trafford with 28 goals in 66 Premier League games, and leaking valuable team training data proved an unmistakeable last straw. Sanchez flopped mightily since arriving from Arsenal, and his stumbles were compounded exponentially by gargantuan wages that turned the club’s structure upside down and unsettled others like David De Gea, making it monumentally more difficult to sign important players to necessary contract extensions. There’s no debating the players were on the chopping block, and rightfully so, in a vacuum.

But soccer is not played in a vacuum. Sanchez showed his worth this summer at the Copa America, proving his immense talent need only be unlocked. Lukaku scored in his Inter debut, and his massive $74 million price tag proves there is plenty to value in the towering Belgian’s game. While they’re clearly not the best of options at Old Trafford, they’re certainly better than…well…nothing.

The purge, somehow, was not followed by a corresponding move for replacements – no reinforcements arrived. This isn’t about reinvesting money – Manchester United has more cash than nearly any club on the face of the Earth. This is about plain old addition and subtraction. You subtract two struggling but capable members of the squad and add zero, and the numbers don’t lie.

“We are creating but of course you are always looking for someone to improve us and we were looking,” Solskjaer said. “It’s about taking the chances. We have created enough in the first three games to have nine points so we have to be more clinical, we have to work on the last pass, the last finish, but we have created enough chances to win – and maybe score penalties.”

You know whose job it is to finish chances? A striker! Blimey, what a revelation!

There are options should Manchester United find itself breaking glass in case of emergency. Anthony Martial can play up front, but is best out on the left wing. Jesse Lingard is the same on the opposite. But the other attacking options in Juan Mata, Daniel James, and Andreas Pereira are all incapable of that fill-in role, and that leaves the boss man criminally undermanned.

Whether the blame falls on Ed Woodward, Solskjaer, or a combination of both is irrelevant. The club simply failed to balance a simple numbers game, and the excuses are starting to flow. Solskjaer attempted to write this off by claiming good enough players didn’t magically appear at his door, as if they should be lining to play Europa League football at the Theater of Dreams.

Yet again, Manchester United finds itself felled by another self-inflicted wound, a worrying trend at Old Trafford of late. This season, if the goals don’t flow, the Manchester United heirarchy may once again be a