Coppa Italia

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Lazio controversially tops Atalanta to win seventh Coppa Italia

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The latest name to grace the Coppa Italia is Lazio.

Late goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa lifted the Roman side to a 2-0 defeat of Atalanta in the Italian Cup Final.

It’s Lazio’s 7th Coppa Italia, tied for third with Inter Milan. Juventus won the previous four to give it 13 all-time, while Roma’s nine are good for second.

[ MORE: Derby County reaches playoff final ]

Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini was furious with officials for not consulting VAR after ex-Middlesbrough defender Marten De Roon‘s shot hit the hand of Lazio defender Bastos in the box. From the BBC:

“Are we meant to only use VAR when it’s handy? It was a penalty and a red card,” Gasperini said. “This is a scandal. Tell me why it happened? Give me some justification.”

The match was a sub-story in some areas, as fans lit a police car on fire as part of several clashes with authorities.

Fiorentina coach Pioli steps down amid seven-game winless run

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli has stepped down amid a seven-match winless streak.

The club says assistant coach Giacomo Murelli was directing training on Tuesday, while no immediate replacement was named.

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Fiorentina has dropped out of contention for European competition and is down to 10th place in Serie A following a loss at home to relegation-threatened Frosinone on Sunday.

The club is anxious to straighten things out before facing Atalanta in the second leg of the Italian Cup semifinals on April 25. The first leg ended 3-3.

Pioli was hired in June 2017 and led Fiorentina to an eighth-place finish last season.

It’s the 12th coaching change in the Italian league this season.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Italian soccer federation signs deal with Chinese government

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ROME (AP) The Italian soccer federation has signed a wide-ranging memorandum with the Chinese government to promote soccer between the two countries.

The deal foresees playing the Italian Super Cup or Italian Cup in China within the next three years.

[ MORE: Upsets in EURO qualifying ]

The Italian Super Cup – which pits the Serie A champion against the Italian Cup champion – has already been played in China four times over the last 10 years.

The meeting with China Media Group head Shen Haixiong also focused on TV content and rights, collaboration over developing young Chinese players in Italy and instruction for using the video assistant referee.

Shen was in Rome for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Italian federation president Gabriele Gravina says, “Soccer has shown once again to be a bridge between different cultures.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Piatek scores 2 as Milan beats Napoli to reach semifinals

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MILAN (AP) Krzysztof Piatek was given a standing ovation when he went off the field on Tuesday after scoring two goals on his full AC Milan debut to send his new side into the Italian Cup semifinals.

Piatek, who joined Milan from Genoa last week for a reported 35 million euros, scored both goals inside 27 minutes to help Milan beat Napoli 2-0.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the PL on Tuesday? ]

The Poland forward had come off the bench against Napoli in the league this past weekend for the final 19 minutes of a 0-0 draw.

He was given his first Milan start at San Siro and it took him less than 11 minutes to open his Rossoneri account.

Nikola Maksimovic allowed a long ball from Diego Laxalt to bounce and Piatek ran into the area and drilled it into the bottom right corner.

Piatek’s second was even better as he controlled the ball on his chest, cut inside Kalidou Koulibaly and curled a shot between the defender and Maksimovic, into that same far bottom corner.

The 23-year-old Piatek is the cup’s top scorer, having netted four on his debut for Genoa against Lecce and another two against Virtus Entella, when his old side went out on penalties.

Piatek replaced Gonzalo Higuain and his threat in front of goal will give Milan hope that he can lead it into the Champions League. Milan currently occupies fourth place in Serie A, the final qualifying spot for Europe’s premier club competition, but has only one more point than Roma and two more than Sampdoria.

At the other end, Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made several crucial saves as the Rossoneri booked a semifinal spot against either city rival Inter Milan or Lazio, which face each other on Thursday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

AC Milan’s mistakes hand Italian Cup title to Juventus

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ROME (AP) AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma gifted two goals and Nikola Kalinic added an own-goal in a nightmare 4-0 defeat for the Rossoneri as Juventus claimed a record fourth straight Italian Cup title on Wednesday.

While the 19-year-old Donnarumma could not be blamed for Medhi Benatia’s opener in the final, his mistakes led to the ensuing goals from Douglas Costa and Benatia. Then Kalinic headed a corner into his own net.

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After the final whistle, Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci and Juventus counterpart Gianluigi Buffon attempted to console Donnarumma.

“We have to accept it and realize we made our own errors,” Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said.

It was the first of two titles that Juventus is hoping to celebrate over the space of four days at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Bianconeri can clinch a record-extending seventh consecutive Serie A title with only a draw against Roma on Sunday.

“Now we have to ensure the Scudetto mathematically and enjoy this extraordinary season,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

Juventus has won a total of 13 Italian Cups, at least four more than any other team.

For Benatia, the brace served as redemption after he was blamed for a goal in a 1-0 loss to Serie A rival Napoli last month.

“After my error on the marking for Kalidou Koulibaly, everyone said I was useless,” Benatia said. “I haven’t become fantastic now and I wasn’t useless then. … I gave my contribution, nothing more.”

Buffon, who is expected to retire at the end of the season, far outperformed Donnarumma, who is considered his protege.

Milan, meanwhile, missed out on a chance to justify its preseason spending spree and take home a trophy ahead of likely punishment from UEFA for financial fair play violations.

The last time Juventus had beaten Milan by at least a four-goal margin came more than 20 years ago – in a 6-1 away win in Serie A in 1997.

“The guys had an extraordinary game and deserved this win, taking nothing away from Milan, who had a good first half,” Allegri said. “In games like this you need a little time to get into gear, but we found the passing lines, the spaces opened up and naturally the technique emerged.”

After a slow-paced first half, Juventus took control when Benatia headed in from a corner.

Donnarumma then had Costa’s shot on his fingers but the ball fell through his hands.

Three minutes later, Donnarumma was preparing to collect a header from Mario Mandzukic but it again slipped off his fingers and Benatia was waiting to pounce on it.

Milan came closest when Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi nearly scored an own-goal, hitting the post with a failed clearance.

Kalinic, who has not reached expectations at Milan, then added to the misfortune by finding his own net with his back to the goal by the near post as he attempted to defend a corner.

Buffon preserved the clean sheet with successive saves on Manuel Locatelli and Fabio Borini.

AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf