Goran Pandev

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Serie A: Juventus falls, Napoli and Lazio win

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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
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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.

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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.

Serie A: Wins help Napoli top table and AC Milan get back on track

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Two wins for two Italian giants, but the three points meant very different things to each side Saturday.

Macedonian striker Goran Pandev bagged a brace before the 25th minute and that was all Napoli needed as they downed Genoa 2-0 to rise to the top of the Serie A table.

Their 16 points are out of a possible 18, with the only missed chance coming in a 1-1 draw midweek to promoted Sassuolo.

It’s the third clean sheet of the season for Liverpool loanee Pepe Reina as he continues his hot start to the season, and Rafa Benitez’s new-look squad is firing on all cylinders.

Pandev, who joined at the beginning of last season, linked up well with new signing Jose Callejon and the rest of the midfield.  That play was much more important on a day when Benitez rested a number of his normal starters, including Marek Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain.

The stay at the top could be relatively short-lived for Napoli, with Roma, Inter, and Juventus all within range and playing tomorrow.

For AC Milan, their 1-0 victory is the beginning of what supporters will hope is a return to normality.  It’s been a frustrating start to the season, and Valter Birsa’s goal immediately after halftime gave the Rossoneri just their second win of the season.

Milan now move to 8th place in the table, and will be needing all the momentum they can build with a Champions League tie against Ajax looming Tuesday, and then defending Serie A champions Juventus waiting to welcome them in next weekend.

It’s Birsa’s first goal for AC Milan since coming over from Turin this summer.

Tomorrow sees most of the Serie A action for the weekend, with Inter and Juventus both heading out on the road against Torino and Cagliari respectively, while Roma hosts Bologna.