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Former Italy international Antonio Cassano retires

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GENOA, Italy (AP) Former Italy international Antonio Cassano has announced his retirement after training for less than a week with Virtus Entella.

Cassano says in a statement: “The day has come where you decide that it’s really over. I have other priorities now.”

[ MORE: Hazard would play for Mourinho again ]

Entella, based near Cassano’s current home in Genoa, announced a week ago that Cassano would begin training with the club “without any contractual obligation.”

The 36-year-old Cassano last played for Sampdoria in May 2016. He signed with Hellas Verona before last season but left the club after two weeks, saying he missed his family.

Cassano scored 10 goals in 39 appearances for Italy. He was known almost as much for his passing wizardry and scoring abilities as for his temperamental behavior.

Cassano also played for Bari, his hometown club, and Roma, Real Madrid, Sampdoria, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Parma.

Entella is still waiting to learn which division it will play in this season. The club maintains it should be re-admitted to Serie B after Cesena was relegated because of false accounting.

Entella has played only one match in Serie C while awaiting the outcome of the legal fight.

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

Serie A: Juventus stretch lead to 9 points with latest win

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

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 8? ]

Udinese 0-2 Juventus

Juventus’ charge toward an eighth straight Serie A title continued at full speed on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over 15th-place Udinese. Rodrigo Betancur and Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the goals, four minutes apart beginning in the 33rd.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side is a perfect eight-for-eight thus far in league play, and last season’s 38-game title battle — as opposed to their typical 30-game sprint — appears to have been a one-season blip, with order fully restored in 2018-19.

Empoli 0-2 Roma

Roma, along with Napoli, are the nearest challengers to Juve’s throne. Saturday’s 2-0 victory away to Empoli keeps Eusebio Di Francesco’s side within 10 points of the top spot. Translation: it’s a steep, uphill battle from here.

Steven Nzonzi and Edin Dzeko were the goalscorers — in the 36th and 85th minutes. Roma have won four in a row after a very poor start to the season saw them win just once in their first five games. Realistically, their title hopes were gone by then.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Cagliari 2-0 Bologna

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Genoa vs. Parma — 6:30 a.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Chievo — 9 a.m. ET
Lazio vs. Fiorentina — 9 a.m. ET
Atalanta vs. Sampdoria — 9 a.m. ET
Napoli vs. Sassuolo — 12 p.m. ET
SPAL vs. Inter Milan — 2:30 p.m. ET

Serie A: Ronaldo sets up Juve’s comeback win over Napoli

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

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 7? ]

Juventus 3-1 Napoli

Three games into his Juventus career, Cristiano Ronaldo had yet to find the back of the net in Italy and the whispers quickly began: perhaps the seven-time defending Serie A champions had made a mistake by splashing out $123 million for the 33-year-old this summer. This notion was, of course, preposterous.

Fast-forward just a month, to the present day, and Ronaldo has amassed three goals and four assists in seven league appearances, including a pair of helpers during Saturday’s 3-1 comeback victory to remain perfect on the still-young season — 21 points from seven games. Dries Mertens put the visitors ahead with a tap-in from close range after just 10 minutes, but Ronaldo floated a cross toward the head of Mario Mandzukic for an easy equalizer in the 26th minute.

Ronaldo nearly got on the scoresheet himself four minutes into the second half, but his shot came back off the post. Fortunately for Juve, the ball fell to an unmarked Mandzukic with a wide open net. That made it 2-1 before Ronaldo flicked on a corner kick for Leonardo Bonucci to stab home in the 76th minute to complete the scoring at 3-1.

Roma 3-1 Lazio

Roma needed — and got — a pair of late goals to come out on top in the Rome derby on Saturday. Lorenzo Pellegrini put the home side ahead in the 45th minute, but Lazio drew level through Ciro Immobile’s 67th-minute equalizer.

The scoreline didn’t last long, though, as two more goals came from the most unlikely of sources — defenders Aleksandar Kolarov and Federico Fazio — in the 71st and 86th minutes, respectively. Despite the victory, Roma remain sixth in the league table, still a point behind their capital rivals but also only four points behind second-place Napoli.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Inter Milan 2-0 Cagliari

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Bologna vs. Udinese — 6:30 a.m. ET
Fiorentina vs. Atalanta — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Frosinone vs. Genoa — 9 a.m. ET
Parma vs. Empoli — 12 p.m. ET
Sassuolo vs. AC Milan — 2:30 p.m. ET

Justin Kluivert smart to choose Roma over Man United, father says

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With a last name like Kluivert, there will always be plenty of open doors for 19-year-old Justin to explore during his professional career.

[ MORE: Pogba’s agent hits back at critics, dares Man United to sell Pogba ]

While that’s certainly an asset and an advantage that might not be afforded to every young player in the game, it also complicates things to a greater degree. Some clubs — typically the bigger ones — might fancy a player like Kluivert, the son of prolific Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert, because he comes with a certain level of name recognition.

Rather than ascending so quickly and reaching the top of the game at such a young age, players without a famous name often make two or three — and sometimes more — moves up the ladder, each time rising to a new level with each new club, placing a priority on playing time and development, before landing with a Barcelona, a Real Madrid, a Bayern Munich, or a Manchester United. The more levels a player is tested and proven at before signing for one of these giants, the more certainty that exists on all sides of the transfer equation.

[ MORE: Messi not among Argentina’s Sept. call-ups; int’l future in doubt ]

Back to Kluivert, who just this summer faced this very dilemma. Man United were reportedly interested in bringing him to Old Trafford from Ajax, but thanks to his prior exposure to the inner-workings of the game — and a bit of sound advice from his father, one would assume — Kluivert choose to make a more gradual step up in competition when he signed for perennial Champions League qualifiers Roma instead.

His father, now 42 and assistant coach for the Cameroon national team, could not be more pleased with and proud of his teenage son’s maturity and decision making — quotes from Goal.com:

“I’m very satisfied with what he is doing. He doesn’t speak much, but he is someone who knows how to listen and is motivated, I would have liked to stay in Ajax for another year, but he chose for himself. I think Roma is a good solution.

“A jump to the Premier League would have been difficult… I think United would have been too big a jump. Roma is an important club, but the pressures are lower.

“Roma must not win by force and it is a club that is used to good football. It is the ideal place for Justin right now. Then, who doesn’t dream of Barcelona? But Italian football is catching up and Justin can take advantage of it.”

Those mega-clubs will still be there after Kluivert has spent a couple — or a few — years at Roma and shown he’s not only good enough to compete in the Champions League, but ready to move to club that’s competing for the Champions League.

Kluivert marked his Serie A debut with an assist in Roma’s dramatic win over Torino on Sunday. After breaking down the right wing, it was Kluivert who lofted the ball into the box and found Edin Dzeko to set up the Bosnian’s technically perfect strike in the 89th minute.

Serie A: Dzeko starts Roma off right with stunning winner

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

[ MORE: Juventus win on Ronaldo’s goal-less debut; Napoli chasing again ]

Torino 0-1 Roma

Roma left it late — very late — before collecting their first points of the season, but Edin Dzeko came through with the moment of unforeseen brilliance in the 89th minute to put Eusebio Di Francesco’s side level with fellow scudetto hopefuls Juventus and Napoli.

Justin Kluivert beat two defenders down the right wing before lofting the ball high across the penalty area, where it came down to Dzeko about 10 yards out and well wide of the far post. The first-time finish couldn’t have been much more difficult for the Bosnian, who had a defender draped all over him, while moving away from goal, and having to strike the ball with the inside of his left foot. It mattered absolutely none, though, as the ball floated over the head of Salvatore Sirigu and found the inside netting.

It’s worth noting — given the way he was criticized during the second half of his spell at Manchester City — that Dzeko has been one of the most prolific goal scorers in the world for over a decade now, bagging nearly 250 goals (all competitions) since he joined Wolfsburg in the summer of 2007. He has scored 179 in league play during that period, and could very well reach the 200-goal mark this season should he remain healthy for Roma.

Sassuolo 1-0 Inter Milan

The expectation this season is that Inter Milan would follow up last season’s fourth-place finish (Champions League qualification) with an even better campaign this time around. It’s only one game, but 2018-19 isn’t off to a great start for Luciano Spalletti’s side as they lost away to Sassuolo on Sunday.

Domenico Berardi scored the game’s only goal, from the penalty spot, in the 27th minute after Federico Di Francesco was dragged down by Miranda inside the penalty area. Mauro Icardi had Inter’s best chance to equalize late in the second half, but the Argentine skied his first-time finish from no more than three yards out.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Chievo 2-3 Juventus (Saturday) — MORE
Lazio 1-2 Napoli (Saturday) — MORE
Parma 2-2 Udinese
Bologna 0-1 SPAL
Empoli 2-0 Cagliari

Monday’s Serie A schedule

Atalanta vs. Frosinone — 2:30 p.m. ET