Benevento

Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP

Serie A: Roma prep for Liverpool by beating SPAL; Benevento win at Milan

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

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SPAL 2013 0-3 Roma

A few hours after a reserves-heavy Liverpool side played last-place West Bromwich Albion to a 2-2 draw in the Premier League, Roma, the Reds’ UEFA Champions League semifinal foes beginning Tuesday, hammered 17th-place SPAL on the back of goals scored by Radja Nainggolan and Patrik Schick.

Roma shocked the world — and Barcelona — to reach the semifinals, but still have a battle on their hands to finish inside Serie A’s top-four and qualify for next season’s Champions League. Following Saturday’s victory, Eusebio Di Francesco’s side is three and four points clear of fourth- and fifth-place Lazio and Inter Milan, respectively, though both of the chasing sides play on Sunday.

AC Milan 0-1 Benevento

The 2017-18 season has treated AC Milan, who spent massively last summer, far worse than Roma. Following Sunday’s home defeat to first-year top-flight (and last-place) side Benevento, Gennaro Gattuso’s side sits sixth (final automatic Europa League place) and lead seventh-place Atalanta, who play on Sunday, by just two points.

Pietro Iemmello scored the game’s only goal in the 29th minute.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 1-0 Fiorentina

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Cagliari vs. Bologna — 6:30 a.m. ET
Lazio vs. Sampdoria — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Inter Milan — 9 a.m. ET
Atalanta vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. Crotone — 9 a.m. ET
Juventus vs. Napoli — 2:45 p.m. ET

Fiorentina-Benevento salutes Astori, releases thousands of balloons (video)

Maurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA via AP
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Fans held “Grazie Capitano” signs, and the Fiorentina players donned No. 13 jerseys in warm-ups and held a “Ciao Davide” sign after the walkout on an incredibly emotional Sunday morning in Italy.

Fiorentina and Benevento honored Davide Astori, La Viola‘s 31-year-old captain who died last week, by pausing the Serie A match in the 13th minute at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

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Astori’s funeral march was attended by thousands on Thursday, with Juventus’ players flying from their UEFA Champions League match at Tottenham Hotspur in order to mourn and celebrate the life of the 14-times capped Italian national team defender.

The stadium also released thousands of violet and white balloons before kickoff.

Benevento captain Lucioni banned one year for doping

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ROME (AP) Benevento captain Fabio Lucioni has been banned one year for doping.

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Italy’s national anti-doping organization made the decision Tuesday after the steroid clostebol was found in a sample taken after Benevento’s 1-0 loss to Torino in September.

Benevento team physician Walter Giorgione was banned for four years for administering the steroid to Lucioni in a spray.

Both Lucioni and Giorgione plan to appeal.

The 30-year-old Lucioni joined Benevento in 2014 and the defender helped the team move from the third division up into Serie A this season for the first time.

Benevento is last in Serie A with only two wins in 20 matches.

The ban is back-dated to October, meaning Lucioni can return early next season.

Benevento gets first point vs AC Milan in stoppage time thriller

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AC Milan’s season has been one to forget through the early parts of December.

Stuck in seventh position 17 points behind leaders Napoli, the club has already fired one manager this season in Vincenzo Montella, and Gennaro Gattuso’s first match in charge has proved historic, but not in a way AC Milan will savor.

The club visited Benevento, a newly promoted side that has yet to score a point not just this season through 14 matches, but in its entire history.

Until today.

Benevento secured a stunning 2-2 draw to earn its first-ever Serie A point, and they did so in spectacular fashion. With AC Milan up 2-1 but a man down thanks to the 75th minute dismissal of Alessio Romagnoli, Benevento did everything in its power to mark a comeback. Five minutes into injury time, all hope seemed lost, and the home side threw goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli forward for a last-ditch corner.

He scored a diving header. Benevento had its point.

The goal is a stunning capper to a historic match for the club from a small city in the shadow of Naples. Benevento to this point had played 14 matches to a -28 goal differential, however they’d shown recent signs of life losing to Juventus, Sassuolo, and Atalanta all by a single goal over their last three games.

They still sit nine points behind safety, but now they are off the mark and have a signature result to savor. AC Milan, meanwhile, is left to ponder its future even further.

Baroni fired by Serie A basement club Benevento

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BENEVENTO, Italy (AP) Benevento fired Marco Baroni and named Roberto De Zerbi its new coach after becoming the first squad in Serie A history to lose its first nine matches of the season.

The southern Italian club is the only team in Europe’s five major leagues without a point.

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Benevento also announced it fired sporting director Salvatore Di Somma.

The moves on Monday came a day after a 3-0 home loss to Fiorentina.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Benevento will have to pay Baroni 800,000 euros (nearly $1 million) as part of an anti-firing clause in his contract.

Baroni guided Benevento up from Serie B last season.

De Zerbi last coached Palermo nearly a year ago before being fired by the Sicilian club.

It’s the second coaching change in Serie A this season, after Diego Lopez replaced Massimo Rastelli at Cagliari last week.