Torino captain Andrea Belotti played hero for the visiting side as his two goals at the end of each half gave his mid-table side a crucial victory over fourth-placed AS Roma in Rome on Sunday.
The 26-year-old belted the ball into the roof of the net in first-half stoppage time and fired the ball past Pau Lopez from the spot, awarded after a lengthy VAR review for handball from Chris Smalling, in the 86th minute.
With seven saves to his name, Salvatore Sirigu played a key role in Torino’s unexpected win.
Sirigu made a near-impossible, point-blank save save from Lorenzo Pellegrini in the second half. In the first half, Torino’s ‘keeper denied Aleksandar Kolarov in spectacular fashion, blocking the defender’s well-placed free-kick with his outstretched arms.
In addition to his two goals, Belotti squandered a pair of other chances to widen his goal count. Early on, the forward hit a routine, diagonal inside the box, only to be denied by the post.
Roma, who despite creating chances, played a lackluster game, hosts top-of-the-table Juventus, while Torino hosts Genoa in the Round of 16 of Coppa Italia on Thursday.
Fortunately for the U.S., there were few ideas on display from Roberto Mancini’s men.
Verratti headed over the goal within the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Americans had a chance for an unlikely opener with a 56th minute free kick. Nothing.
Horvath was back in the spotlight with an in-tight leg save after Walker Zimmerman put off a driving Kevin Lasagna in the 59th after Bonucci sent him over the top of the defense.
A Kellyn Acosta free kick found Zimmerman at the back post, but Salvatore Sirigu was there for his first save of the afternoon.
Hoffenheim’s Vincenzo Grifo forced Horvath into a flying save in the 70th minute, and Mancini’s men couldn’t do anything with the ensuing corner. He’d then stymy another 1v1 chance on the left side in the 72nd.
Lasagna probably should’ve given Italy a winner in the final 10 minutes, but he smashed the ball over the bar.
Substitute Romain Gall forced a corner kick out of a diving Sirigu in the 90th minute, but the youngster’s corner didn’t clear Italy’s line.
Verratti and substitute Moise Keane played Politano on goal, with Sebastian Lletget leaving Politano after the Inter man started the play and Aaron Long unable to switch in time.
Eden Hazard converted a 96th minute penalty after Thiago Silva’s theatrically-poor handball, but Silva headed the ‘winner’ home in the 114th minute to pull the Ligue 1 side through.
Bjorn Kuipers gave a red card to Zlatan Ibrahimovic (WATCH and VOTE here) in the 33rd minute after a controversial collision with Oscar, and Chelsea got an 81st minute goal from Gary Cahill. Ex-Chelsea man David Luiz sent the match into extra time with a powerful header in the 86th.
Regardless of who won, Kuipers had a stunningly poor day. At least he was consistent in making baffling decisions. Kuipers has given a red card in three-straight UCL matches, and this one came after Jose Mourinho set the “dirty PSG” narrative on Tuesday (correlation, not causation).
Jose Mourinho will rue his tactics for the final hour of regulation, as he sat back against a 10-man PSG side.
PSG began the match with cutting runs and effective movement toward the Chelsea goal, but Thibault Courtois collected a second minute corner and Chelsea began its own attack.
Marco Verratti earned cries for a penalty when Chelsea back Kurt Zouma collided with him in the 18, but no such luck was headed PSG’s way.
All said, Courtois may’ve been the Man of the Match, keeping a clean sheet against a desperate Parisian side.
But then…. Luiz! The former Chelsea sweeper headed a cross past Courtois in the 86th minute, and Mourinho’s side was in danger of a horrific collapse.
To extra time, where Didier Drogba entered for Ramires as Mourinho poured the gas on 10-man PSG. But it was Hazard who would put Chelsea in front with a PK after Thiago Silva leapt with two arms in the air to combat Zouma, touching the ball before the Blues defender headed it.
Courtois made a strong save in the 101st minute when he dove back to tap Luiz’s free kick over the bar.
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic (Zouma, 84′); Ramires (Drogba, 90′), Oscar (Willian, 46′), Hazard; Diego Costa
The world of soccer players still likes Iker Casillas a great deal, while many of us are left rolling our eyes at the shortlist of players in the running for the FIFA FIFPro World XI 2014.
Many expect Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer to ease to a win, so the inclusion of Real Madrid keeper Casillas provides us with a decent talking point; How did a man who lived through an embarrassing World Cup and has just reclaimed his No. 1 gig for his club make the list?
Casillas won the award five times from 2008-12, so perhaps players were struggling for names on their ballot and thought, “He’s usually good.” Also on the list are Chelsea’s Thibault Courtois, Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon and Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo.
Consider that even his most notable accomplishment, winning the UEFA Champions League final, comes with a goofy goalkeeping blunder.
Certainly keepers like David De Gea, Tim Howard, Wojciech Szczesny, Hugo Lloris and Salvatore Sirigu are scratching their heads.
New Italy boss Antonio Conte has named his roster for upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Malta, but striker Mario Balotelli, who has been considered one of Italy’s more dynamic forwards, didn’t make the cut again.
And this action arrived after Brendan Rogers decided to nix the Italian from his usual starting XI in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over West Brom earlier today.
Balotelli was also excluded from his country’s friendly vs. the Netherlands and Euro qualifier against Norway in September.
Conte has added a fresh face to replace the 24-year-old striker in the forward rotation. His name is Graziano Pelle and he’s enjoyed a great beginning to the season, scoring five goals in eight games so far this season. Pelle is a huge reason for Southampton’s early year success.
On the defensive side, youngster Daniele Rugani received his very first call-up to the senior team, and the Blues highest-capped defender, Juventus man Giorgio Chellini, is unsurprisingly set to star for his country.