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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.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

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

Discriminatory chants prompt suspension of Roma-Napoli game

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ROME — Discriminatory chants prompted a Serie A soccer game between Roma and Napoli to be briefly suspended Saturday.

Referee Gianluca Rocchi made the decision in the second half after Roma fans aimed anti-territorial chants – which are treated in the same manner as racist chants – at Napoli. The game resumed after a few minutes.

[ MORE: Man City 2-1 Saints ]

Rocchi had already ordered an announcement to be made over the Stadio Olimpico’s public address system asking fans to stop the chants.

During the suspension, Rocchi gathered teams in the center circle, then Roma forward Edin Dzeko encouraged fans to applaud rather than jeer the opposition.

Roma led 2-0 at the time of the suspension before going on to win 2-1.

Italy’s top tier has been marred by several incidents of fan racism this season.

Serie A wrap: Late Ronaldo penalty saves Juve; Smalling nets for Roma

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Italy was not happy about playing at midweek, or so it seems from the five red cards handed out across seven Wednesday matches in Serie A.

[ MORE: Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal | GK hero reacts ]

Juventus moved back atop the table by a point over Inter Milan, but had to work to the wire for it, while Atalanta held firm against Napoli’s challenge to see two Roman clubs move into the Top Five.


Juventus 2-1 Genoa

It was supposed to be easier for The Old Lady at home against a Genoa side which hasn’t done much well this season, especially after a 51st minute red card for the visitors made a 1-1 score line appear destined to move toward the hosts.

Despite taking 20 more shots than the guests, Juve could not make it an easy win. Adrien Rabiot was sent off in the 87th minute, and Maurizio Sarri‘s men only triumphed when Cristiano Ronaldo converted a stoppage time penalty.

Napoli 2-2 Atalanta

The hosts lost a pair of leads as goals from Nikola Maksimovic and Arkadiusz Milik couldn’t deliver three points against the third place La Dea.

Remo Freuler’s 41st minute goal meant the score line was tied at halftime, and Josip Ilicic struck in the 86th minute to give Atalanta a share of the points in a match with 13 shots on frame.

Lazio 4-0 Torino

It was a bit of cakewalk for Lazio, who scored in the 25th and 33rd minute and saw Nicolas Nkoulou sent off in the 68th. Ciro Immobile scored two in the win, as 18-point Lazio is a point back of their fourth-place city rivals.

Udinese 0-4 Roma

Manchester United loanee Chris Smalling has his first Serie A goal, nodding in Roma’s second as i Lupi move back into the Top Four.

Roma led 1-0 when Federico Fazio was sent off, but still scored the game’s three remaining goals. Nicolo Zaniolo, Justin Kluivert, and Aleksandar Kolarov joined Smalling on the score sheet.

When asked about the performance, Roma boss Paulo Fonseca offered this gem:

“Most teams defend when down to 10, but we do not,” he said.

Elsewhere
Sassuolo 1-1 Fiorentina
Sampdoria 1-1 Lecce
Cagliari 3-2 Bologna
AC Milan v. SPAL — 4 p.m. ET Thursday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Juventus 10 8 2 0 18 9 9 5-0-0 3-2-0 26
 Inter Milan 10 8 1 1 22 10 12 3-1-1 5-0-0 25
 Atalanta 10 6 3 1 30 16 14 2-1-1 4-2-0 21
 Roma 10 5 4 1 18 11 7 2-2-1 3-2-0 19
 Lazio 10 5 3 2 22 10 12 3-2-0 2-1-2 18
 Napoli 10 5 3 2 20 13 7 3-1-1 2-2-1 18
 Cagliari 10 5 3 2 16 10 6 3-1-2 2-2-0 18
 Fiorentina 10 4 3 3 15 13 2 2-1-2 2-2-1 15
 Parma 10 4 1 5 15 14 1 3-0-3 1-1-2 13
 Bologna 10 3 3 4 14 15 -1 2-1-1 1-2-3 12
 Verona 10 3 3 4 7 8 -1 1-2-2 2-1-2 12
 Torino 10 3 2 5 11 16 -5 2-2-1 1-0-4 11
 AC Milan 9 3 1 5 9 13 -4 1-1-2 2-0-3 10
 Udinese 10 3 1 6 5 17 -12 3-0-3 0-1-3 10
 Sassuolo 9 3 0 6 16 18 -2 2-0-3 1-0-3 9
 Lecce 10 2 3 5 11 19 -8 0-1-3 2-2-2 9
 Genoa 10 2 2 6 13 23 -10 2-1-2 0-1-4 8
 Brescia 9 2 1 6 9 14 -5 0-1-3 2-0-3 7
 SPAL 9 2 1 6 7 16 -9 2-1-2 0-0-4 7
 Sampdoria 10 1 2 7 6 19 -13 1-2-2 0-0-5 5

Serie A roundup: Roma’s Mkhitaryan scores on debut, Milan edges Verona

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Roma’s first win of the season headlines Sunday’s Serie A action.

Roma 4-2 Sassuolo

Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s stint with Roma is off to a brilliant start.

The former Arsenal attacker, scored a blistering goal in his debut with the Italian giants, who won their first game of the season in the 4-2 thumping of Sassuolo.

The Armenian’s goal was only one of the four that Roma put together in the first 45 minutes of the game. With a headed goal off of a corner kick, Bryan Cristante gave the home side an early lead. Seven minutes later, Edin Dzeko tallied his second goal of a young season.

By the 33rd minute, Justin Kluivert’s calm finish inside the box had Roma up by four goals. I Giallorossi kept pushing, dismantling the visiting with their frenetic pace down the wings, but came up short, striking the bar post in three different occasions.

Despite being outclassed in the first half, Sassuolo’s silver lining showed up in the final 45 minutes: Domenico Berardi. A wonder free-kick opened the scoring for the 24-year-old, who eventually sealed his brace in 72nd minute. The captain has scored five goals in two league matches this season.

With confidence under their belt, Roma travel to Bologna next, while Sassuolo host SPAL.

Verona 0-1 AC Milan

Milan aren’t doing it in convincing fashion, but they’re winning.

A game that saw both teams end up with 10 players, also saw Milan walk away with a 1-0 victory in Verona. The win has Marco Giampaolo’s side sixth in the table only three points behind leaders and rivals Inter Milan.
Despite playing a player down early on, Verona had a pair of chances in the first half. A half-effort bicycle was no match for a well-positioned Roma defense and Gianluigi Donnarumma. The clearest chance of them all came right before the first 45 minutes came to a close, however. In motion, with his back turned on the ball, Valerio Verre’s first touch and subsequent strike would just go inches high of the bar.
As the second half went on, Milan proved to be too much for the home side, controlling the ball and taking a plethora of shots on goal. Eventually, it took a tool on I Gialloblu. In the 68th minute, Hakan Çalhanoğlu shot struck Verona’s Koray Gunter hand, resulting in a penalty that Krzysztof Piątek put away.

Now in sixth place, Milan face rivals Inter Milan next. On the hand, Verona travel to Turin to take on a mighty Juventus.

Elsewhere in Serie A

SPAL 2- 1 Lazio

Brescia 3-4 Bologna

Parma 1-3 Cagliari

Mkhitaryan: Premier League struggles down to happiness

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Sometimes, a footballer’s lack of success can come down to happiness.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan says that’s the case with his tumultuous time with Arsenal and Manchester United following a high profile transfer from Borussia Dortmund in 2016.

[ MORE: Spurs’ Lo Celso injured ]

Mkhitaryan, now 30, arrived on the heels of 23-goal, 32-assist season (!!!), and failed to reach those totals over three seasons between Old Trafford and the Emirates.

The Armenian captain is hoping that a loan to Roma changes his fortunes, because he simply hasn’t felt home in the Premier League.

From Sky Sports:

“I have to enjoy playing football, no matter the place. In England, I no longer felt happy,” he said. “I got a call from my agent and I wanted to come, because it was a great opportunity for me. I didn’t even have a discussion with my agent about money. Maybe I was not fitting so well in English football, so I think a change was good.”

Mkhitaryan is branding his time in Roma “an opportunity to be seized.”