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Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

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ROME — Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

Juventus draws after winning bid blocked by Ronaldo; Inter can go 1st

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Inter Milan could finish the day above Juventus with a win at 9 a.m. ET after Cristiano Ronaldo scored a penalty to level Sunday’s match against Sassuolo but also blocked his side’s match-winning attempt in the 70th minute.

Comically, the shot was taken by Paulo Dybala, who also won the penalty. The jokes are there for the taking when it comes to Ronaldo’s perceived jealousy of the Argentine playmaker, though Sassuolo goalkeeper Stefano Turati was well-positioned to catch the ball had it reached him.

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Juve had led 1-0 through Leonardo Bonucci, but Sassuolo struck on both sides of halftime to put the hosts behind.

Ronaldo converted Dybala’s penalty, the 116th of the Portuguese’s amazing career, but then couldn’t get out of the way on the below shot (few could).

The megastar was apparently attempting to not interfere with the play, knowing he was probably in an offside position.

Serie A Roundup: Roma pummel Brescia, move top four; Lazio edge Sassuolo (video)

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Inspired by Chris Smalling‘s career night, AS Roma’s dominant, 3-0 win over Brescia highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Roma 3-0 Brescia

A two-time Premier League league winner, Smalling, 30, must have a long list of “memorable” games to choose from. But after scoring once and assisting twice against bottom-dwellers Brescia on Sunday, it can be said that the Englishmen might have topped the list.

On Sunday, the defender became the first English player to score at least two goals in a single Serie A season since David Beckham.

The Manchester United loanee opened the floodgates in the 49th minute, heading Lorenzo Pellegrini’s lofting corner into the back of the net. Just eight minutes later, Roma scored a second from a corner-kick. 

This time, Smalling – keeping tabs on the last Brescia defender – headed the ball downwards, rebounding and finding defender Gianluca Mancini’s right foot, which set up for a simple volley strike past Jesse Joronen

In the 66th minute, the defender’s header found a well-positioned Edin Dzeko for Roma’s third and final of the night.

Now fourth in the Italian top flight, Roma prepare for Istanbul Basaksehir on Thursday, while Brescia look for their league win in eight consecutive games against Atalanta.

Sassuolo 1-2 Lazio

With the game two minutes away from the final whistle, Lazio needed a miracle to comfortably remain in Serie A’s third spot.

Substitute Felipe Caicedo was just that, scoring I Biancocelesti’s game-winning goal in the first minute of stoppage time.

 

With the frustration of not getting a penalty call go their way minutes earlier, Luis Alberto and Caicedo paced past Sassuolo’s midfield and backline, combining with a set of back-and-forth passes. Inside the box, with position to shoot at goal, the Ecuadorian’s strike bounced over two, full-stretch defender and into the back of the net.

In the first half, Serie A top scorer, Ciro Immobile, added his 15th of the season, while the home side finished the first 45 minutes with a lot of hope, following captain’s Francesco Caputo’s tap-in.

Red-hot Lazio host CFR Cluj on Thursday in Europe League play, while Sassuolo prepare for their big game against Juventus on Sunday.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Bologna 2-2 Parma

Verona 1-0 Fiorentina

Sampdoria 2-1 Udinese

Serie A roundup: Roma’s Mkhitaryan scores on debut, Milan edges Verona

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Roma’s first win of the season headlines Sunday’s Serie A action.

Roma 4-2 Sassuolo

Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s stint with Roma is off to a brilliant start.

The former Arsenal attacker, scored a blistering goal in his debut with the Italian giants, who won their first game of the season in the 4-2 thumping of Sassuolo.

The Armenian’s goal was only one of the four that Roma put together in the first 45 minutes of the game. With a headed goal off of a corner kick, Bryan Cristante gave the home side an early lead. Seven minutes later, Edin Dzeko tallied his second goal of a young season.

By the 33rd minute, Justin Kluivert’s calm finish inside the box had Roma up by four goals. I Giallorossi kept pushing, dismantling the visiting with their frenetic pace down the wings, but came up short, striking the bar post in three different occasions.

Despite being outclassed in the first half, Sassuolo’s silver lining showed up in the final 45 minutes: Domenico Berardi. A wonder free-kick opened the scoring for the 24-year-old, who eventually sealed his brace in 72nd minute. The captain has scored five goals in two league matches this season.

With confidence under their belt, Roma travel to Bologna next, while Sassuolo host SPAL.

Verona 0-1 AC Milan

Milan aren’t doing it in convincing fashion, but they’re winning.

A game that saw both teams end up with 10 players, also saw Milan walk away with a 1-0 victory in Verona. The win has Marco Giampaolo’s side sixth in the table only three points behind leaders and rivals Inter Milan.
Despite playing a player down early on, Verona had a pair of chances in the first half. A half-effort bicycle was no match for a well-positioned Roma defense and Gianluigi Donnarumma. The clearest chance of them all came right before the first 45 minutes came to a close, however. In motion, with his back turned on the ball, Valerio Verre’s first touch and subsequent strike would just go inches high of the bar.
As the second half went on, Milan proved to be too much for the home side, controlling the ball and taking a plethora of shots on goal. Eventually, it took a tool on I Gialloblu. In the 68th minute, Hakan Çalhanoğlu shot struck Verona’s Koray Gunter hand, resulting in a penalty that Krzysztof Piątek put away.

Now in sixth place, Milan face rivals Inter Milan next. On the hand, Verona travel to Turin to take on a mighty Juventus.

Elsewhere in Serie A

SPAL 2- 1 Lazio

Brescia 3-4 Bologna

Parma 1-3 Cagliari

Prince-Boateng seals surprise loan move to Barcelona

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Kevin Prince-Boateng is moving from Sassuolo to Barcelona on loan with an option to buy for the Catalan giants.

The move is a big surprise, bringing the well-traveled 31-year-old midfielder to his 10th club.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Prince-Boateng has four goals and two assists in 13 Serie A appearances for Sassuolo, and has 15 caps for Ghana (though he has not represented the Black Stars since their scandalous 2014 World Cup).

He’ll have plenty of chances to impress Ernesto Valverde in the next few weeks, with Luis Suarez the only other true center forward on the roster. Valverde has used Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembele, or Munir El Haddadi in that role when Suarez has been unavailable.

He has spent two stints at AC Milan, as well as time with Schalke, Borussia Dortmund, Las Palmas, Eintracht Frankfurt, Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur, and Hertha Berlin.