Miralem Pjanic

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Juventus midfielder Pjanic avoids serious injury

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Juventus was worried that Miralem Pjanic would miss significant time after the Bosnia international limped off just eight minutes into his substitute appearance in the 2-0 win over Brescia on Sunday.

Thankfully for The Old Lady, it was just a scare. The club announced Monday that tests on Pjanic’s injury “excluded any muscle injuries” and that “only a slight strain to the right adductor was observed.”

[ MORE: USMNT injuries piling up ]

While the club stated officially that “his condition will be evaluated in the coming days,” reports are that Pjanic could be in the mix for Saturday’s league match against SPAL as well as next week’s Champions League knockout game against Olympique Lyonnais. The club also has a massive title bout with Inter the following weekend.

Inserted into a deeper-lying role, Pjanic has been a workhorse for Juventus this season, already logging over 2,500 minutes across all competitions. Since scoring three Serie A goals and assisting three others before the end of October, Pjanic’s production has dropped off the table, with no goals and an assist since that time. He was ineffective against Chievo Verona in the road loss last weekend, seeing him dropped to a substitute role against Brescia in favor of Aaron Ramsey, with Rodrigo Bentancur dropping into the defensive midfield role.

It’s not the only good news Juventus has seen of late in the injury department. 35-year-old captain Giorgio Chiellini just returned against Bresica from an ACL tear, his first appearance since going down after the opening match of the season. Douglas Costa is out 2-3 weeks with a hamstring injury, but that certainly could have been worse. One of the deepest teams in Europe continues to plug along.

Serie A: Juventus win 5th straight; Napoli cruise past Verona (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ LA LIGA: Real Madrid lose to Mallorca; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann send Barca top ]

Juventus 2-1 Bologna

Juve were made to work a bit — but not too much — en route to a 2-1 victory over Bologna. It’s their fifth straight win in league play and again puts them four points clear of Inter Milan, who are yet to play this weekend.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a pinpoint finish from a tight angle in the 19th minute, but Bologna hit back just seven minutes later when Danilo smashed home a half-volley after Juve failed to clear a corner kick. It was 1-1 at halftime, but not much longer than that. Miralem Pjanic picked out the near post and slotted home past the goalkeeper in the 54th minute to give Juve their deserved winner.

Napoli 2-0 Verona

Napoli, on the other hand, had their backs against the wall early when Verona visited the San Paolo Stadium. Goalkeeper Alex Meret was the hero early on with a fantastic double-save before Carlo Ancelotti’s side settled in and took control of the game.

Arkadiusz Milik got on the end of Fabian Ruiz’s cross right in front of goal, leaving the Polish forward with the simplest of tap-ins to make it 1-0 in the 37 minute. Milik made it 2-0 when he got a glancing touch on a sensation free kick from Lorenzo Insigne in the 67th.

The victory sees Napoli hang onto fourth in the league table and move to within two points of second-place Inter.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Lazio 3-3 Atalanta

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Sassuolo v. Inter Milan — 6:30 a.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Roma — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese v. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Cagliari v. SPAL — 9 a.m. ET
Parma v. Genoa — 12 p.m. ET
AC Milan v. Lecce — 2:45 p.m. ET

Serie A roundup: Inter stay perfect, Ronaldo scores in Juventus win (video)

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Antonio Conte‘s new-look Inter Milan, who are on a six-game winning streak, headline Saturday’s Serie A action.

Sampdoria 1-3 Inter Milan

Who would have guessed? Inter Milan are unrecognizable – for the better – under the 50-year-old manager. On Saturday, Inter thumped Sampdoria  3-1, extending their winning streak to six games – a perfect start to the new season.

Loanee Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal with the Black and Blues, only to get sent off for yellow card accumulation a minute into the second half.

Down 2-0, Jakub Jankto pumped in hope into the home side, turning and quickly striking the ball with his left foot into the back of the net. It was the first goal Inter had allowed in three league games.

If Conte’s sides are known for something, though, it’s a well-balanced scheme. When Sampdoria gained control and pragmatism in the second half, Inter’s defensive stability helped contain the visitor’s lead.

And in the 61st minute, Nicolo Barella sealed it for Inter with a second-chance tap-in in the six-yard box.

Inter’s first true test comes midweek as the Italian giant meets Barcelona at the Camp Nou in Champions League play. Sampdoria, on the other side, prepares for Hellas Verona.

Juventus 2-0 SPAL

There’s Inter Milan, and then there’s Juventus. With 16 points after six games, the Old Lady is at the heels of Conte’s side. On Saturday, they, too, took care of business, winning 2-0 at home against SPAL.

In midair, following a light bounce, Miralem Pjanic’s strike curled into the top left corner of Etrit Berisha goal, who recorded eight saves throughout the 90 minutes. It was halftime, and Juventus were up 1-0.
In the second half, Juventus continued their dominance, possessing the ball 67 percent of the time and recording 12 shots. Following a whipping cross from Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo headed home his third goal of the season in the 78th minute.

A Champions League match Bayer Leverkusen are next in the queue for Juventus. But just days later, they’ll have a legitimate chance to take first place in the table as they travel to Milan to take on Inter. SPAL prepare for to take on Parma next.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Sassuolo 1- 4 Atalanta

Brescia handed suspended punishment over fans’ racial abuse

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ROME (AP) Italian club Brescia has been given a suspended sentence of a partial stadium closure after its fans shouted racial abuse at Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic this week.

Brescia fans reportedly chanted “zingaro” – or “gypsy” – at Pjanic, a Bosnia international who is white.

The Italian football federation on Friday said Brescia was given a suspended sentence of having to close part of its stadium for one game. The punishment is suspended for one year and will be enforced if fans are found guilty of more abuse.

Pjanic scored the winning goal Tuesday as Juventus beat Brescia 2-1.

The decision to punish Brescia comes after clubs like Cagliari, Verona and Atalanta escaped sanctions after their fans racially abused black players.

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

UEFA Nations League: Dzeko scores, Finland wins again

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England’s 3-1 win over Spain was the biggest news of the day in UEFA Nations League play, but there was plenty else to take from the action on Monday.

Edin Dzeko bagged a double as Bosnia & Herzegovina defeated Northern Ireland 2-0. The Roma striker robbed Jamal Lewis of the ball in his own defensive third after the defender slipped, and he buried the chance before the defense could regroup. He picked up his second with 17 minutes remaining as Miralem Pjanic completely bypassed the midfield with a fantastic long chip to Dzeko waiting on the left side of the box, and he had an easy finish with the defense trailing the play.

Dzeko’s two goals were two of just five total shots on target between the two sides in an otherwise drab match, as Northern Ireland has just one win in its last six matches.

Finland topped Greece 2-0 for its fifth consecutive clean-sheet win, going ahead on a goal by Pyry Soiri who finished off a messy chance in the box just after halftime as Greece failed to clear. Finland has not conceded a single goal since falling 2-0 to Romania in mid-June, a run of 479 total minutes. The center-back pairing of Joona Toivio and Paulus Arajuuri has started and played every minute of the three UEFA Nations League wins. Midfielder Glen Kamara scored Finland’s second, ending the country’s run of three straight 1-0 victories.

Switzerland held on to beat Iceland 2-1, with Haris Seferovic and Michael Lang on target for the visitors in Reykjavik. The former headed in a perfect far-post cross from Granit Xhaka just after halftime, while Lang finished off a beautiful bit of team play as Seferovic switched play from right to left before it came back in front of net, touching two Swiss players before finding Lang on the doorstep for finish in traffic. Alfred Finnbogason picked up a consolation with nine minutes left but that would wrap things up.

Hungary drew 3-3 with Estonia in a wild match that featured a double from Hoffenheim striker Adam Szalai. The 30-year-old Hungarian bagged a brace on his 50th cap, including his second that rescued a point for his country in the 81st minute after they wasted a 2-1 lead and fell behind 3-2.

Luxembourg topped 10-man San Marino 3-0, grabbing the opener just four minutes in and cruising to the win. Belarus and Moldova drew 0-0 in Minsk as Moldova failed to register a single shot on target despite holding the majority of possession.