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Mertens: ‘I am thinking about’ Belgian retailers goals-for-TVs offer

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Dries Mertens isn’t about to forget his friends.

The Belgium striker, 31, scored against Panama as one of his nation’s nine goals in group play.

Now facing Japan in the Round of 16, Belgium is three wins from playing for a World Cup final.

[ RECAP: Spain 1-1 (3-4 PKs) Russia ]

And seven goals to free televisions for some of his pals.

According to the BBC, “Electronics company Krefel has offered Belgian customers a full refund on a newly bought TV if Roberto Martinez’s side score 16 times in Russia.”

Mertens is quite aware of this fact:

“My friends bought a television, so I am thinking about that,” he said.

“With the qualities of Romelu [Lukaku] and Eden [Hazard], we can create a great deal of danger. We are doing really well. We like to score a lot of goals.”

Great news for Dries: He’s a multi-millionaire and can just buy a lot of his friends TVs for every room in their houses. Scoring seven goals would be cool, though.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL duo eyeing Asensio and more

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The ongoing World Cup hasn’t halted the transfer talk across global soccer, and on Wednesday there are a number of potentially intriguing storylines.


Two Premier League sides are chasing Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio, including Chelsea and Manchester United, while they will have to battle Paris Saint-Germain as well.

Although Asensio is prepared to stay in Spain next season, he wants to be assured of playing time under new manager Julen Lopetegui, who recently joined the club.

The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in all competitions last season for Los Blancos.


Juventus continues to have several players at the center of transfer rumors, and Miralem Pjanic is a name that keeps popping up.

The midfielder won’t come cheap though, with Juve reportedly set to ask for $92.6 million in the event that a club wants to acquire Pjanic.

Barcelona is rumored to be seeking a move for Pjanic with Andres Iniesta now heading to Vissel Kobe in the J-League.


New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is reportedly looking to bring several of his former Napoli players to Stamford Bridge, including Belgium star Dries Mertens.

The Blues are seeking more attacking options ahead of the fall, and the veteran Mertens has become a proven commodity in front of goal over the course of his Serie A career.

Napoli leaves it late to keep title hopes alive

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ROME (AP) Napoli scored twice in the final two minutes for a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Chievo Verona on Sunday that kept the southern squad’s title hopes alive.

Arkadiusz Milik connected with a long pass from Lorenzo Insigne to head in the equalizer in the 89th. Amadou Diawara then quickly controlled the ball and sent a curling shot inside the far post for the winner in added time.

It was the first goal in 69 Serie A appearances for Diawara, a 20-year-old from Guinea who got a rare start in place of the suspended Jorginho.

[ VIDEO: Ronaldo, Griezmann score in derby ]

Napoli moved back within four points of Italian leader Juventus, which won 4-2 at Benevento on Saturday.

The leaders meet in two weeks.

Mariusz Stepinski had put Chievo ahead in the 73rd after being set up by Emanuele Giaccherini, who was loaned by Napoli in January.

Earlier, Dries Mertens had a penalty blocked by Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino, who has now saved three of his last four penalties.

Also, Napoli’s Lorenzo Tonelli hit the crossbar.

Napoli is aiming for its first Serie A title since Diego Maradona led the club to its only two championships in 1987 and 1990.

SIRIGU SAVES

In the lunchtime fixture, Torino beat visiting Inter Milan 1-0 with a first-half goal from Adem Ljajic and a strong performance from goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

Inter winger Ivan Perisic lost control and then involuntarily set up Lorenzo De Silvestri, who placed the ball at the far post for Ljajic to tap in.

Inter remained fourth, one point behind Roma.

Also, relegation-threatened Crotone beat Bologna 1-0 with an early goal from Simeon “Simy” Tochukwu Nwankwo. Hellas Verona, in penultimate place, defeated Cagliari 1-0 with a penalty from Romulo.

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

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

Serie A: The Napoli-Juventus title race is getting good

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

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

Napoli 3-1 Sassuolo

Juventus went top of the table on Saturday, courtesy of two Gonzalo Higuain goals in a 2-0 victory over a struggling AC Milan side, just edging past Napoli on goal differential. On Sunday, Napoli responded with a 3-1 victory over 16th-place Sassuolo.

Brazilian midfielder Allan forced a turnover atop Sassuolo’s penalty area and slotted home with ease after 22 minutes, but the visitors hit back through Diego Falcinelli’s powerful header four minutes before halftime.

The scoreline would remain 1-1 for fewer than three full minutes, though, as Jose Callejon helped to bundle the ball over the goal line from a corner kick in the 44th minute. Nine minutes into the second half, Dries Mertens bagged his 10th goal of the season (third this week) to put the game to bed.

After 11 games played, Napoli top the league table on 31 points, three ahead of the six-time defending champs from Turin. The season’s first meeting between the two sides is scheduled for Dec. 1, at Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo.

Benevento 1-5 Lazio

Juventus will actually finish the weekend in third place, level on points with Lazio but behind the capital club on head-to-head results. Simone Inzaghi’s side thrashed newly promoted Benevento on Sunday, after going 3-0 up inside the opening 25 minutes — Bastos, Ciro Immobile and Adam Marusic got the early goals, followed by a fourth from Marco Parolo to make it 4-1.

Sunday’s most notable scorer, however, bagged his goal inside the final five minutes to complete the scoring — former Valencia Fenerbahce Sporting CP Manchester United winger Nani, whom Portugal could very well heavily rely upon at next summer’s World Cup, scored his first goal for the club (and tallied the assist on Parolo’s goal) after coming on as a 71st-minute substitute.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Crotone 2-1 Fiorentina
Sampdoria 4-1 Chievo
SPAL 1-0 Genoa
Udinese 2-1 Atalanta
Torino vs. Cagliari — in progress

Man City 2-1 Napoli: Early goals stand up

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Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored early, and Ederson stopped one of two penalty kicks as Manchester City held off Napoli 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday.

Amadou Diawara converted Napoli’s second PK after Dries Mertens saw his effort saved.

Napoli is six points back of Group F leading City, and three behind Shakhtar Donetsk.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Raheem Sterling was near the spot to blast an open rebound past Pepe Reina in the ninth minute.

Then Kevin De Bruyne swept an incisive pass into the six for Gabriel Jesus to slot home, giving Man City a 2-0 lead in the 13th minute.

Kyle Walker saw yellow after giving a penalty kick in the 37th minute, and Napoli star Dries Mertens had his chance to pull one back denied by Ederson.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

John Stones‘ impressive growth at City continued when he slid to stop Marek Hamsik from testing Ederson in the second half.

Fernando took down Faouzi Ghoulam to give Napoli a second penalty kick, and this time it was converted thanks not to Mertens, but Diawara.