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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

VAR decision in Serie A game has double impact

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FERRARA, Italy (AP) Video review changed the course of a Serie A match in Italy on Sunday when, for the first time, a goal was disallowed and a penalty awarded to the opposing team in the same decision.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule

SPAL thought it had gone 2-1 ahead when Mattia Valoti scored on the counter-attack but the referee viewed a previous incident on VAR and opted to award Fiorentina a penalty for Dias Felipe’s trip on Federico Chiesa moments earlier.

The decision, which came more than four minutes after the foul, made everything that had followed null and void, including Valoti’s goal.

Jordan Veretout converted the penalty and Fiorentina went on to win 4-1.

This scenario has been a possibility since VAR was introduced at the start of the 2017-18 season in Italy but it is the first time it has actually happened.

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

Serie A: Inter tops Parma, Fiorentina, Napoli play to stalemate

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Inter Milan’s young Argentine attacker, Lautaro Martinez, notched another tally to his goal count as Inter Milan returned to the win column for the first time in four games.

Just two minutes from coming on, Martinez latched onto a pass in the box and fired a strike in for a goal, helping give Inter a 1-0 win over Parma. It’s Inter’s first Serie A win since before the winter break.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Parma nearly scored on two occasions in the first half, with Gervinho and Inglese going in on goal. On the other end, only Radja Nainggolan threatened the goal. Despite the win, Inter still has to worry about Mauro Icardi. The star Argentine attacker is now scoreless in his last four Serie A games.

Elsewhere, Napoli and Fiorentina played to a scoreless draw in front of a packed house in Florence. Fiorentina goalkeeper Alban Lafont played the hero, producing saves on Piotr Zielinski in each half. Both teams’ defenses held the opponent’s attack away from goal for long stretches, and in the end, the point is a positive one for Fiorentina. The Viola moves up into ninth place, one spot above Torino with 32 points.

Reports: Mourinho scouts Milenkovic, Milinkovic-Savic; Lodges $70m bid

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho was in the stands for Serbia’s 2-0 win over Montenegro on Sunday, and that’s naturally being linked to the transfer rumor mill.

Nikola Milenkovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are the names being pulled from this particular match, both high-profile (and price tag) players from Serie A.

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Now technically any coach is observing nearly every player on the pitch, but both do make sense in terms of skill (a Mourinho and Ed Woodward requirement) and age (more of a Woodward priority).

Eight-times capped center back Milenkovic, who turned 21 on Friday, is said to be a subject of United interest, having raised his profile since arriving from Fiorentina in 2017. La Nazione says United has filed a bid of approximately $70 million for his services.

Milenkovic has scored twice this season and played a little right back, too. He stands close to 6-foot-4.

Lazio midfielder Milinkovic-Savic played the final 11-plus minutes for Serbia, and was of course quizzed on Mourinho’s interest.

Milinkovic-Savic, 23, said he read that Mourinho was there to see him, and that he was honored if that’s true, but was quick to give allegiance to Lazio.

Not to mention, the 9-times capped Milinkovic-Savic is probably going to cost well over $100 million.

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic missed the match with an injury.

Fiorentina signs Croatia winger from Juventus

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MILAN (AP) Fiorentina has signed Croatia winger Marko Pjaca on loan from Juventus, with an option to buy.

Juventus announced in a statement on Tuesday that Fiorentina has paid 2 million euros ($2.3 million) for the loan and will pay 20 million euros ($23.2 million) if it decides to buy Pjaca at the end of the season.

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The 23-year-old Pjaca was part of the Croatia team which reached the World Cup final in Russia last month and he came on as a substitute in that 4-2 defeat to France.

Juventus signed Pjaca from Dinamo Zagreb in 2016 but he spent last season on loan at Schalke.