Genoa

Getty Images

Atalanta up to third in Serie A after beating Genoa

Leave a comment

MILAN (AP) Atalanta kept alive its dream of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time by beating relegation-threatened Genoa 2-1 in Serie A on Saturday.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule

Halftime substitute Musa Barrow scored seconds after the interval and Timothy Castagne doubled Atalanta’s lead in the 53rd minute as the team stretched its unbeaten streak to 11 matches and moved to third in Serie A.

Goran Pandev netted a consolation for Genoa a minute from time.

Atalanta moved two points above fourth-placed Inter Milan, which hosts already-relegated Chievo Verona on Monday.

The top four from Serie A qualify for the Champions League. AC Milan and Roma are four points below Inter.

Milan visits Fiorentina later, while Roma hosts Italian champion Juventus on Sunday. There are two rounds remaining after this weekend.

Genoa remained four points above the relegation zone.

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

Serie A: Juventus falls, Napoli and Lazio win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Juventus has fallen.

Cristiano Ronaldo was rested, and the Old Lady lost a match for the first time in Serie A play all season, stunned 2-0 at Genoa on a pair of goals in the last 20 minutes by Stefano Sturaro and Goran Pandev.

Juventus was toothless for much of the match, held without a shot on target the entire 90 minutes in just six total efforts. On the other side, Genoa collected 18 total shots, putting five of them on net despite just 40% possession.

The hosts nearly had the opener in the first 30 minutes but a penalty given for a handball on Joao Cancelo in the area, but it was cancelled after a check by VAR. They would remain dangerous throughout, and finally grab the lead in the 72nd minute through a most unlikely source.

Stefano Sturaro, off the bench just two minutes earlier for his first Genoa appearance since joining in January from Juventus on loan, scored with a bouncer from the top of the box. Nobody closed him down, and he took a feed from fellow substitute Pandev and slotted it past a diving Mattia Perin. Pandev then finished himself in the same corner with the left foot, taking a wonderful cut pass from Cristian Kouame and slotting it through to secure the win.

The Scudetto is in no danger, still 18 points clear of Napoli, but the loss is notable as Juventus was chasing an unbeaten season. Genoa moves into 12th with the win, a full nine points above the drop.

Elsewhere, Lazio and Napoli each scored four goals in wins. Amin Younes and Jose Callejon both scored inside the opening half-hour, while Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens finished off the 4-2 win over Udinese in the second half. Kevin Lasagna  and Seko Fofana both scored before the break for Udinese to level things up, but Napoli was too hot to handle holding 66% of the possession and putting five shots on target, with four finding the back of the net.

Lazio, meanwhile, hammered Parma 4-1 with all four goals coming in a dominant first half. Luis Alberto bagged a brace, including one from the penalty spot, while Senad Lulic and Adam Marusic sandwiched that with strikes of their own. The penalty for Alberto was significant not just for him, but also for Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe who saw it go right under his outstretched arm for his 24th straight penalty without a single save.

Empoli picked up an enormous win in the relegation battle, topping fellow battlers Frosinone at home 2-1 to rise out of the drop zone. Francesco Caputo and Marko Pajac picked up the winners, cancelling out a late consolation by Luca Valzania in the 70th minute. The three points moves Empoli to 25 points on the year, one above Bologna to put them in 17th. Frosinone, meanwhile, remains in 19th on 17 points.

Finally, Atalanta and Chievo Verona drew 1-1, a brutal blow for Atalanta in the chase for a Champions League place, leaving them in seventh with 45 points, five back of Inter in the final spot.

Juve’s unbeaten season ends at hands of former player Sturaro

Simone Arveda/ANSA via AP
Leave a comment

Juventus is going to cruise to the Serie A title — a couple more wins will do the trick — but it will not do so without suffering a loss.

Second-half goals from former Juve player Stefano Sturaro and Macedonian legend Goran Pandev led 12th place Genoa past Juventus 2-0 on Sunday at Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

[ MORE: Klopp dismisses Bayern talk ]

Pandev, a longtime Juve nemesis himself, scored nine minutes after Sturaro’s opener, with both players coming off the bench to bag their goals.

Remarkably, Sturaro scored three goals in 90 matches for Juve and was making his debut for Genoa. He had subbed into the match two minutes earlier!

Juventus was without Cristiano Ronaldo and kept Georgio Chiellini, Wojciech Szczesny, and Federico Bernadeschi on the bench following its memorable midweek UEFA Champions League comeback win over Atletico Madrid.

Juve holds an 18-point lead on second-place Napoli. The Old Lady has 10 matches left, while Napoli has 11 on the docket beginning with a 1 p.m. ET visit from Udinese.

Chelsea’s Sarri: Higuain move soon, Hazard ‘has to do more’

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Leave a comment

Maurizio Sarri is excited to be reunited with Gonzalo Higuain, pending a couple of passed physicals.

The Chelsea manager admitted that his former Napoli star striker is all but a member of the Blues, with Higuain in London for a medical with the Stamford Bridge outfit. Chelsea will take over Higuain’s loan from Juventus and would have an option to buy the player in the summer.

[ MORE: Freiburg’s Stanko to Cincinnati ]

AC Milan will replace Higuain with Krzysztof Piatek of Genoa, the latter undergoing a physical of his own.

Both have been playing regularly and passed summer medicals for their current clubs.

Sarri is not worried about Higuain’s relatively dry patch in the goal department, citing his prolific career record which includes 23 goals for Juventus last season.

“This season he had some troubles but I think that’s part of every player’s career, you have your down moments,” Sarri said. “We hope we can regenerate him quickly so he can pay us back with his goals. It’s very difficult in January to find one of the most important strikers in the world. So I think the club is working very well because it’s not easy to get a new striker.”

Higuain has eight goals this season, breaking a long run without scoring on Dec. 29 with a finish against SPAL.

As for the man who could set up Higuain to feast, Sarri praised Chelsea’s gamebreaking Eden Hazard but admitted there are issues with the often unsettled megastar.

“I think that he said that coaches told him that he needed to do more. I think he has to do more because the potential is higher than the performances I think. So he has to respect first of all himself, he has to do more.

“I don’t know in this moment he is more an individual player than a leader. He’s very important for us because he’s a great player. He always can win the match in two minutes. Sometimes in one minute. But at the moment he is not a leader.”

It’s hard to lead when you’re unwilling to commit your future to a club. Hot take: It would make a lot of sense for Chelsea for find a way to move Hazard now. His value is going to go down in the summer, and January has a premium on players. Find a player who can function in Sarri’s system, let Callum Hudson-Odoi get a bit more time, and move on from the Belgian.

As good as Hazard is — and he’s one of the best talents in the world — he is also a common thread across teams that have performed and under-performed under three managers. The four players who’ve spent time under Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, and Sarri are Hazard, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta, Willian, and David Luiz. Cahill and Azpilicueta are amongst Chelsea’s captains, while Luiz spent two years at Paris-Saint Germain during that span.

Ronaldo may be tiring as Juve go on record march

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cristiano Ronaldo is helping Juventus break records but it could be taking a toll on the Portugal star.

Ronaldo has started all but one of Juve’s 23 games this season, having missed only the first Champions League match against Young Boys through suspension following his first-ever red card in the competition.

The 33-year-old forward has scored 12 goals since leaving Real Madrid in the offseason, despite being the subject of a rape allegation in the United States.

Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada in September claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. The Juve player has denied any wrongdoing.

[ MORE: Atlanta hires De Boer ]

Ronaldo’s form in front of goal has dipped in recent games, failing to score in open play in four matches although he did convert a penalty in the Turin derby on Dec. 15.

He went close on several occasions in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Roma and was denied by goalkeeper Robin Olsen. Ronaldo also produced some trademark fancy footwork to set up a goal for Douglas Costa that was ruled out following a video review.

However, the Portugal great looked tired at times and Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri has said he will give the five-time World Player of the Year a rest by sitting out one of the upcoming matches before the winter break, against Atalanta or Sampdoria.

Juve can afford to sideline him after the victory over Roma clinched the unofficial winter title with two matches to go before the halfway point of the season is reached.

Allegri’s side, seemingly unstoppable as it seeks an eighth successive Serie A title, has an eight-point lead over second-placed Napoli and a 16-point advantage over Inter Milan in third.

Juve has won 16 of 17 league matches, dropping points only in a surprise draw against Genoa.

The club’s haul of 49 points has broken its own Italian record and set a record for the top five leagues in Europe.

Still, Juve appears not to have hit top gear. It is traditionally stronger in the second half of the season and appeared to be conserving energy in its past three matches, winning each 1-0.

MISFIRING FORWARDS

Napoli’s top strikers have been misfiring.

Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens have seven Serie A goals apiece this season but neither has scored in five league matches since a 5-1 win over Empoli on Nov. 2.

Both hit the woodwork in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Spal when defender Raul Albiol was on target.

Another Napoli forward, Jose Callejon, has failed to score this season in 20 matches in all competitions.

Mertens was the club’s top marksman last term with 18 league goals.

PIATEK POWER

Genoa forward Krzysztof Piatek has regained his scoring touch.

He netted nine goals in his opening seven league matches, plus four in his first game for the club in the Italian Cup, but the Poland international then failed to hit the target in five games before breaking his drought last month.

Piatek struck again in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Atalanta to take his tally to six in as many matches in all competitions. However, he was dismayed that another effort was given as a Rafael Toloi own goal.

“I am very happy with the great Genoa victory,” he wrote on Instagram. “But I celebrated less because as soon I got to the locker room I heard the news that my first goal was an own goal. I feel that it is in every respect a double and that Serie A should go back on its decision.”

Piatek tops the scoring charts with 13 league goals, two more than Ronaldo. No player in Europe’s top leagues has netted more domestically.

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