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Serie A: Lazio, Roma pick up important wins

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On a day when most Serie A cities were on edge as games were canceled over Coronavirus fears, two games were able to be played to their conclusion, with important results.

Ciro Immobile added another goal to his league-leading scoring mark as Lazio outlasted Genoa, 3-2, on the road. Immobile’s 51st minute goal was his 27th of the Serie A season, putting him six goals ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Lazio only needed two minutes to get on the board as Felipe Caicedo played a pass forward, which right back Adam Marusic latched onto. He then had defenders bouncing off him as he slalomed his way forward into the box and fired into the roof of the net. In transition six minutes into the second half, Immobile rifled a strike home to put Lazio up 2-0. Francesco Cassata’s golazo from the top of the box, a curling effort into the top corner, gave Genoa some life, though Lazio restored the two-goal advantage in the 71st minute through Danilo Cataldi.

Domenico Criscito scored a late penalty kick in second half stoppage time to bring Genoa within one goal again, but it was too little, too late from the hosts. With the win, Lazio keep the pressure on Juventus, sitting just one point behind the leaders on the same number of games played, 25.

Roma 4-0 Lecce

Roma returned to winning ways on Sunday with a crucial 4-0 rout of Lecce at the Stadio Olimpico.

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Coming off three straight defeats and a draw in Serie A action, it was one of the young guns, who’s had an up and down season this year, get Roma first on the board. Outside of Turkish winger Cenkiz Under, it was veterans Edin Dzeko and Henrik Mkhitaryan who stole the show.

In the 13th minute, Mkhitaryan sliced through the Lecce defense before feeding a short pass to the oncoming Under, who powered a strike past Mauro Vigorito for the game’s opening goal. In the 37th minute, Dzeko combined yet again with Mkhitaryan, finding the Armenian international running into the box before Mkhitaryan slotted home.

Dzeko then in the second half scored from close range to make it 3-0, and his former Manchester City teammate, Aleksandr Kolarov put the finishing touches on the rout with a blast from the left side of the box.

Thanks to the prior defeats, Roma currently sits outside of the UEFA Champions League slots, but the win on Sunday brought them within three points of Atalanta and the fourth and final Champions League place. However, Atalanta has a game-in-hand on Roma.

Serie A roundup: Lukaku registers brace, Inter defeat Genoa (video)

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Inter Milan’s 4-0 victory over Genoa highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

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Inter 4-0 Genoa

Romelu Lukaku scored two goals and registered an assist as Inter Milan smothered struggling Genoa to go level with Juventus at the top of the Serie A table.

Antonio Conte‘s side go into winter break with a ten-game unbeaten streak powering them.

What was a stellar night for Lukaku ended up being one of the best days in teenage forward Sebastiano Esposito’s young life.

With an opportunity to record a hat trick after Inter were awarded a penalty, the Belgian forward handed he responsibility to the 17-year-old. Esposito converted the second-half penalty, becoming the second youngest player to score for the Italian giant.

Following the match, the youngster rushed to hug his mother while in tears.

“It’s been a fantastic week, I can’t lie, I didn’t sleep a lot thinking about how this game would go,” Esposito said. “I’d like to thank the team, the coach, the club and Romelu, especially for the goal … He told me to be sure of myself when I stepped up to strike the ball and to score.

“They’re all great people before they’re professionals. I found myself in sync with Romelu right away, he’s a fantastic person who’s always looking to help me, he reassured me a lot by saying that everything would go alright and I’m so happy to have scored.”

 

Joining the senior team over the summer, Esposito made his Champions League debut in October.

“He was practically a child when he arrived at the training camp this summer, but he’s grown massively in the last few months and I had said that at some unexpected point I’d be counting on him in times of need,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.

“He had a big chance today and he certainly made the most of it. He’s got a great future ahead of him, both his family and myself will help him, and if he continues like this then he’ll only improve.”

Esposito will have plenty of time to soak it in as Inter’s two-week break is officially underway.

Elsewhere

Udinese 2-1 Cagliari

Torino 1-2 SPAL

Serie A roundup: AC Milan escape Genoa with cathartic win (video)

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AC Milan’s first win following three consecutive losses headlines Saturday’s Serie A action.

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Genoa 1-2 AC Milan

Cathartic: the word that best summarizes AC Milan’s victory in Genoa, because even though only a goal separated Milan and Genoa after 90 minutes, the game had one too many subplots.

 

Lasse Schöne opened the scoreline for the home side, scoring from a direct free-kick from distance – a strike Pepe Reina could have saved with ease – minutes before both teams headed into the dressing room. As a result, the pressure was on Milan, who had been distracted by the growing rumors of Marco Giampaolo’s sacking leading up to the game.

What a response they gave.

Just within 12 minutes of the second half whistle, I Rossoneri responded with two goals of their own. The second, scored by midfielder Franck Kessie from the penalty spot, put the visitors up 2-1 against a 9-men Genoa.

Late in the game, with the villain title already on his back, Reina caused more troubles for Milan, rewarding Genoa with the penalty of their own. The Spanish veteran, however, redeemed himself, stopping Genoa’s strike from the spot. The 37-year-old quickly went from villain to hero.

With some pressure off his shoulder Giampaolo and his men take a two-week break before hosting Lecce, while Genoa travel to Parma following the international break.

Elsewhere in Serie A

SPAL 1- 0 Parma

Verona 2- 0 Sampdoria

Serie A: Milan stunned; Roma draw in six-goal thriller (video)

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

Roma 3-3 Genoa

There were plenty of promising talking points in Roma’s season opening six-goal thriller against Genoa, but their draw certainly overwrote almost everything with red ink.

Edin Dzeko was one of the few highlights that remained in the clear. The 33-year-old – five seasons into his Roma spell -scored and assisted for I Giallorossi. Recent arrival, Davide Zappacosta, made his debut in the 78th minute.

Genoa, not necessarily impressive throughout the match, figured out a way to crack Roma’s defense. When they conceded, they’d respond. Stadio Olimpico saw six lead changes, with Christian Kouame’s diving header in the 70th minute splitting the points.

For a Roma that missed out on qualifying for the Champions League last season, the result is a low-blow right off the bat. For Genoa, who remained in Serie A by a miraculous goal, a six-goal thriller in Roma is music to their ears.

Udinese 1-0 AC Milan

Another Italian giant had a slow, first day at the office.

AC Milan, boasting a plethora of firepower, were outclassed by a well-prepared and structured Udinese.

Rodrigo Becão’s debut goal was the only difference between both sides. Milan, who are already three points behind favorites such as Juventus and Napoli, have plenty of questions to answer. The reported possible arrival of Angel Correa may certainly help on the attacking side of things, but Marco Giampaolo still has plenty of work laid out in front of him.

Banned from Europa League for overspending by Financial Play Fair Rules, Milan are expected to fully focus on the Serie A campaign, which they have yet to win since the 2010/11 campaign.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sampdoria 0-3 Lazio 

Cagliari 0-1 Brescia

Verona 1-1 Bologna 

SPAL 2-3 Atalanta 

Torino 2-1 Sassuolo 

Atalanta up to third in Serie A after beating Genoa

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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.

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