Edin Dzeko

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Serie A Roundup: Roma, Napoli, Lazio all win

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Edin Dzeko‘s last-gasp winner for AS Roma headlines a busy day in Serie A action on Sunday.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Bologna 1-2 Roma

Roma kept its unbeaten start to the 2019-2020 Serie A season thanks to a 94th-minute Edin Dzeko winner. The American-owned club first took the lead in the 49th minute through another former Premier League player, Aleksandar Kolarov. The Serbian delightfully placed a free kick at the top of the box over the wall and into the top corner.

However, Bologna quickly capitalized after Kolarov bundled over Roberto Soriano in the box, leading to a penalty kick call that VAR confirmed. Nicola Sansone waited for Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez to move and then slotted the ball into the right corner to tie the match.

Roma went down to ten men in the 85th minute when new signing Gianluca Mancini, a centerback, picked up his second yellow card for a foul on Felipe Santander as he was about to run into the box. And yet, even though Roma was on the ropes, Dzeko popped up in a pocket of space at the top of the six-yard box and powered home a header just before the final whistle to win the game. With the win, Roma jumps into the top four with eight points from four games.

Lecce 1-4 Napoli

Don’t tell Fernando Llorente that his best days are behind him.

Having left Tottenham in search of more first team minutes, Llorente just scored for the second-game straight as he bagged a brace in Napoli’s rout on the road over Lecce. At 34-years old, the crafty veteran may be the perfect age for star striker in Italy, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Quagliarella (26 goals last year at age 36) all at a similar age.

Llorente took advantage of his experience in the 28th minute, latching onto a blocked shot from Arkadiusz Milik that dribbled into the middle of the box, leaving Llorente for an easy finish past Lecce goalkeeper Gabriel.

VAR gave Napoli a controversial penalty kick in the 35th minute off a handball from Panagiotis Tachtsidis in the box. Lorenzo Insigne stepped up to take the penalty kick and his spot kick was saved expertly by Gabriel. However, the referee awarded a do-over after seeing Gabriel was a step off his line before the ball was kicked. Insigne didn’t miss on the second attempt, putting Napoli up 2-0.

Fabian Ruiz in the second half curled home an absolute beauty to put Napoli up 3-0. Lecce cut the decide by one with a penalty kick goal, but Llorente gave Napoli their three-goal lead again with another one-on-one finish from close.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 3-0 SPAL

Sampdoria 1-0 Torino

Atalanta 2-2 Fiorentina

Lazio 2-0 Parma

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

Some players taking advantage of new handball rules

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MILAN (AP) Some players appear to be taking advantage of newly implemented handball rules to deliberately win penalties.

The new rules state that it is automatically a penalty if the ball touches a player’s hand or arm when it is above their shoulder, regardless of intent.

That is how Roma forward Edin Dzeko won the first-half penalty in the Rome derby on Sunday.

Rather than shooting at goal, Dzeko appeared to see Sergej Milinkovic-Savic raise his arm and instead struck the extended limb to earn the spot kick which was then converted by Aleksandar Kolarov.

“We have to get used to this new rule,” Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said. “I think it was looked for and it was found.

“We mustn’t keep our arms up because otherwise footballers with really good aim will look for the arm in the area and, as a consequence, with these rules, a penalty will be given.”

Luis Alberto equalized for Lazio after the break and the match ended 1-1.

The rules were supposed to provide greater clarity for those playing or watching the game but they continue to cause controversy.

Last week, Fiorentina was awarded an early penalty when the ball was deflected by a knee on to the underside of Piotr Zielinski’s arm, which was slightly raised.

However, Napoli went on to win 4-3.

DEFENSIVE FRAILTIES

Juventus has had the best defense in Serie A in each of the past eight seasons.

Its famed BBC defense of Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini have helped it win the title in each of those years.

Despite the retirement of Barzagli, Juventus was expected to remain solid at the back especially after it made Matthijs de Ligt the most expensive defender in Serie A history when signing him from Ajax for 75 million euro ($85 million) last month.

But the Bianconeri were hit by a blow when Chiellini tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in training on Friday, ruling the Juventus and Italy captain out for about five months.

De Ligt was handed his debut in Saturday’s match against title rival Napoli and was at fault for two of the goals as Napoli fought back from three goals down to level before Juventus won 4-3 thanks to a stoppage-time own goal.

“He comes from a team that defended differently, in a league that is not the Italian one,” Juventus assistant coach Giovanni Martusciello said. “He also played well for an hour, then his condition was lacking a bit. But he is a player of the highest level.”

WATCHING BALOTELLI

Mario Balotelli was at San Siro on Saturday to see his new club take on his old as Brescia lost 1-0 at AC Milan.

Balotelli joined newly promoted Brescia after his deal with Marseille expired, returning to Serie A with his hometown club after an absence of three years.

The forward has to wait to make his debut as he serves a four-match ban following a straight red card in his final game for Marseille against Montpellier in May.

“He’s working really hard, he’s done double training sessions three times,” Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. “He’s here with the right mentality, we’re counting a lot on him.”

Balotelli’s last spell in Italy was a miserable one as he struggled with injury and scored only once in a season-long loan at AC Milan before returning to Liverpool in 2016 and moving immediately to France, resurrecting his career first with Nice and then at Marseille.

That was Balotelli’s second spell at Milan, the team he supported as a child.

Balotelli’s first appearance for Brescia will likely be the home match against eight-time defending champion Juventus on Sept. 25.

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

Roma boss Di Francesco worried after late win

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Edin Dzeko saved Roma in the 95th minute, sealing a 3-2 win over Frosinone and moving the club back to within a point of a Champions League place. Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco wasn’t having it.

“We can’t keep getting away with this type of performance,” Di Francesco said to the media after the game.

[ MORE: Serie A recap as Roma and Torino win ]

Despite its solid league position down the stretch of the season, the club has looked shaky at times. On Saturday, the defense put forth a calamitous performance at the back filled with mistakes, bad passes, poor marking, and questionable decision-making. The game was tied 2-2 for most of the second half with Roma’s relegation-threatened opponents nearly pulling out a win if it wasn’t for goalkeeper Robin Olsen’s spectacular save.

“The positive from this evening is that we won, but I do hope he can start to play much better football from now on,” Di Francesco said. “The second goal came from our own set play and our positioning was off, Daniele De Rossi misread the situation.”

“Frosinone are scrapping for every point to secure safety and I know what that is like. We made too many mistakes and should’ve approached the game better, as we risked a draw or even a defeat. We always find a way to make life more complicated for ourselves with distractions.”

Frosinone’s first goal came from a mistake by Steven N’Zonzi, whose back-pass to no one was intercepted by Camillo Ciano who scored despite a great save attempt by Olsen. The hosts scored their second on the break as De Rossi and Aleksandr Kolarov were torn apart on the break despite a one-on-two advantage for the defenders.

“We had the game in hand and should’ve finished it off rather than just tried to control it. We’ve shown over the season that we are a team capable of scoring goals, but also of conceding them. We’ve got to improve.”

Despite the poor defensive performance, the attack played spectacular at times, with Stephan El Shaarawy the star and Dzeko a force. Dzeko was on hand to bundle in the winner five minutes into stoppage time as El Shaarawy lofted a short cross over a defender and into the chest of the Bosnian striker.

Serie A: Roma steals win late, Torino tops Atalanta

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Defensive calamities appeared to prove deadly with Roma barreling towards a disappointing draw with relegation-threatened Frosinone, but Edin Dzeko stole victory from the jaws of defeat, scoring in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal a vital three points amid a fight for Champions League qualification in a 3-2 win at Stadio Benito Stirpe.

Roma was tragically bad at the back from the opening whistle. Frosinone scored the opener just five minutes in after Steven N’Zonzi’s horrible back-pass was stolen, and while Robin Olsen saved the shot from Camillo Ciano with a diving effort, but the ball popped up into the air with crazy spin and when it came down near the line, it bounced back into the net.

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Frosinone nearly had a second in the 11th minute but Ciano blasted it over the bar while all alone at the back post. Down the other end, Marco Sportiello was required to tip a dangerous Stephan El Shaarawy header over the bar. Roma built into the game and finally equalized right on the half-hour mark as Edin Dzeko picked the pocket of clueless Frosinone defender Edoardo Goldaniga in the box and his shot pinged off the left post and spun into the back of the net. They took the lead just a minute later and turned the game on its head as Dzeko fed El Shaarawy on the break, and while his shot to the far post was tipped by Sportiello, Lorenzo Pellegrini was on hand to deliver a sliding tap-in at the far post as the ball trickled away.

El Shaarawy was lucky to stay on the pitch after a bad challenge late in the first half only produced yellow despite an apparent stamp, and the referee was not buzzed by VAR to take another look. Frosinone was struggling to regain a foothold in the match until the 68th minute when they came so close to an equalizer as Andrea Pinamonti came flying in to meet a cross with a flying ninja kick but he was out of control and whiffed on the effort. They would find the leveler with 10 minutes to go, pegging back Roma on the break as Pinamonti finished the counter that left both Aleksandr Kolarov and Daniele De Rossi looking silly.

It could have been worse had Olsen not made a spectacular save in the 85th minute to keep out a cut shot from substitute Marcello Trotta that nearly found the back of the net, but instead trickled safely away off the goalkeeper’s fingertips. With a disappointing result on the horizon, Dzeko was there to snatch victory, bundling home a short cross from El Shaarawy in the 95th minute. The win moved Roma back to within a point of fourth-placed AC Milan, erasing doubts the draw would have left with the club potentially three points back in fifth.

Elsewhere, Torino topped Atalanta 2-0 at home on goals from Armando Izzo and Iago Falque that neatly bracketed halftime. Just before the break, Izzo put the home side in front on a messy goal that eventually pinged its way to the 26-year-old defender at the far post for the opener. Just a minute after they returned from halftime, Torino found its second as a whipped delivery from Soualiho Meite passed Andrea Belotti but found Falque near the penalty spot who rifled in a low, scything effort that found the back of the net.

The win moves Torino into seventh, well in the thick of the crowded top half of the Serie A table. They’re level with both Lazio and Atalanta on points with 38, but still five back of fifth-placed Roma after their win.