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Serie A roundup: Juventus, Inter Milan succumb unusual draws (video)

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Abnormal draws from Juventus and Inter Milan on the same matchday highlight Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Lecce 1-1 Juventus

With a couple of its stars resting – including Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus traveled to Lecce to take on the recently-promoted club. Shockingly, the league leaders were stunned and walked out with only a point.

Powered by the Argentine duo of Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain, the Old Lady knocked, and knocked on the home side’s door. To be exact, Juventus took 15 shots in the first half, and even though the majority came inches from being on frame, only one resulted to be on target.

Close chances soon became a regular occurrence throughout the 90 minutes.

But early in the second half, Dybala finally broke the deadlock from the spot, following a hard foul on Miralem Pjanic on the edge of the 18-year-box. It was Juventus’ game to lose.

In a way, that’s exactly what happened when Lecce earned a penalty of their own only six minutes later. Marco Mancosu converted from 12 year out, putting the underdog leveled with the league’s most lucrative side.

Luckily for Maurizio Sarri and company, Parma’s two first-half goals were too much for Inter Milan to top, as the second-place side drew their first game of the season. Juventus, despite dropping two points on Saturday, remain one point ahead of Antonio Conte‘s Inter after nine games played.

With Ronaldo likely on the teamsheet, Juventus hosts Genoa midweek, while Inter Milan travel to Brescia.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Inter Milan 2-2 Lecce

Genoa 3-1 Brescia

Man Utd: Smalling, Darmian seal Serie A moves

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Manchester United is waving goodbye to a pair of defenders, and only may eventually come back to Old Trafford.

Chris Smalling is off to AS Roma on loan, while Matteo Darmian will join Parma for an underwhelming $1.7 million (according to Sky Sports).

[ MORE: UEL group stage draw ]

Those Man Utd salaries have made from less than ideal transfer situations for the Red Devils. While Romelu Lukaku did fetch $90 million from Inter Milan, Alexis Sanchez joined the same Serie A side for an alarmingly low loan fee (reportedly).

Here’s Solskjaer on Smalling’s move to a fellow Europa League side. From ManUtd.com:

“At the moment we’ve got six center backs and it’s just something that popped up in the last couple of days. Chris fancied the chance to go over there; it’s a new experience, new adventure. He’ll come back better for it because it’s a big club, it’s a good league. There aren’t too many English players who have been playing in Italy so I think he’ll enjoy it.”

Whether United is able to bring in some free agent or budget savvy moves like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it’s pretty clear that chairman Ed Woodward (and maybe Solskjaer) believes the club is not ready for a Top Four challenge but has the strength to compete for continued UEL berths via blooding plenty of young depth.

Serie A: Milan tops Atalanta in massive win, Cagliari grabs 3 points

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AC Milan has scored one of the most important results of the Serie A season in what has turned out to be a vicious battle for the final Champions League places, coming from behind to beat Atalanta 3-1 on a brace from new signing Krzysztof Piatek. The win gave Milan a four-point gap between themselves and fifth-placed Atalanta, with Roma and Lazio all right there in the chase as well.

Both teams struggled to find good chances through the first 45 minutes, as the only two shots on target of the first half resulted in goals. Atalanta struck first through Remo Freuler, although Gianluigi Donnarumma will want it back. Just past the half-hour mark, great work from Josip Ilicic on the right-hand edge of the box led to a cutback where Freuler was waiting in acres of space, but his shot was right at Donnarumma. Unfortunately for the visitors, he was unable to stop the shot completely, and it trickled away to his right and over the line.

Milan was able to change the halftime feel of the game right on the stroke of the break as Piatek scored his 16th goal of the season and third for Milan since joining in the winter by somehow managing to touch Ricardo Rodriguez’s cross into the far corner despite his back to the target, contorting his body so that his leg whip redirected it inside the far post.

The visitors took the lead just after the break, a meaningful strike in more ways than one as Hakan Calhanoglu bagged his first goal of the season to a thunderous response from the Milan bench. His low strike from the top-left corner of the penalty area found the far post past a diving Etrit Berisha. Less than a week ago, Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso had called Calhanoglu out for poor play, saying “I expect more” from the Turkish winger. The goal is his first in league play since he ended last season with a run of three goals in the final four games of the campaign.

Piatek made it 3-1 just minutes after by heading in a Calhanoglu corner, and that was the ballgame wrapped up. Milan won its second in a row and fourth in its last six league matches. With just one league loss since the November international break, Milan has strengthened its Champions League hopes, just a point back of third-placed Inter who is set to host Sampdoria tomorrow.

Elsewhere, Cagliari also came from behind, beating Parma 2-1 on a brace from Leonardo Pavoletti despite falling behind before halftime.

The visitors at Sardegna Arena went in front in the 40th minute on an absolutely stunning header from Juraj Kucka, redirecting a free-kick from a great distance out, looping his header up and over Cagliari goalkeeper  Alessio Cragno, clipping the underside of the bar and deflecting into the net.

Cagliari stormed back and Pavoletti struck for the first time just past the hour mark, touching home on a set-piece development after Luca Cigarini’s looped free-kick found Luca Ceppitelli’s head, touching the ball across the face of goal right to the doorstep where Pavoletti was streaking in.

The hosts owned both the bulk of possession and the advantage in the shot count, finishing with 16 to Parma’s nine, but they struggled to get them on target. Finally, in the 85th minute, Pavoletti won it as Nicolo Barella produced a wonderful cutback delivery from the left touchline and his looping cross found the 30-year-old’s head leaving Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe no chance.

The win pushes Cagliari to 14th in the table, six points above the relegation zone and just one point below their opponents.

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.

Serie A: Parma completes amazing comeback to tie Juve

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On most days, a 3-1 Juventus lead would mark the figurative end of the game. On Saturday, Parma wasn’t having that.

The once-proud club staged an incredible second half comeback with a pair of goals from former Arsenal winger Gervinho as Parma drew with Juventus, 3-3. Cristiano Ronaldo also scored two goals and set up the third for Juventus, who drew for just the third time this season. Even with the draw, Juve is still nine points clear at the top of the Serie A table, over Napoli, who won over high-flying Sampdoria.

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Juventus, playing at home in Turin, took the lead in the 36th minute through a shot from Ronaldo, who slipped while taking it and that, plus a deflection, helped it find the back of the net. Ronaldo nearly scored a second at the stroke of halftime, but in the 62nd minute, he was credited with an assist after a header ricocheted off his head onto the foot of Daniele Rugani, who fired home.

Less than two minutes later, Antonino Barilla stormed into the box and latched onto a long cross for a header goal to bring it back to a one-goal deficit, but Ronaldo extended the lead back to two in the 66th minute, heading a snap header past Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe.

In impressive fashion, Parma never gave up, and a wonderful back-heel flick goal from Gervinho gave Parma some life in the 74th minute. Finally, in the third minute of stoppage time, it was Gervinho again, arriving at the penalty spot and firing a strike that found its way past Mattia Perin in for a goal.