Stephan El Shaarawy

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Roma boss Di Francesco worried after late win

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Edin Dzeko saved Roma in the 95th minute, sealing a 3-2 win over Frosinone and moving the club back to within a point of a Champions League place. Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco wasn’t having it.

“We can’t keep getting away with this type of performance,” Di Francesco said to the media after the game.

[ MORE: Serie A recap as Roma and Torino win ]

Despite its solid league position down the stretch of the season, the club has looked shaky at times. On Saturday, the defense put forth a calamitous performance at the back filled with mistakes, bad passes, poor marking, and questionable decision-making. The game was tied 2-2 for most of the second half with Roma’s relegation-threatened opponents nearly pulling out a win if it wasn’t for goalkeeper Robin Olsen’s spectacular save.

“The positive from this evening is that we won, but I do hope he can start to play much better football from now on,” Di Francesco said. “The second goal came from our own set play and our positioning was off, Daniele De Rossi misread the situation.”

“Frosinone are scrapping for every point to secure safety and I know what that is like. We made too many mistakes and should’ve approached the game better, as we risked a draw or even a defeat. We always find a way to make life more complicated for ourselves with distractions.”

Frosinone’s first goal came from a mistake by Steven N’Zonzi, whose back-pass to no one was intercepted by Camillo Ciano who scored despite a great save attempt by Olsen. The hosts scored their second on the break as De Rossi and Aleksandr Kolarov were torn apart on the break despite a one-on-two advantage for the defenders.

“We had the game in hand and should’ve finished it off rather than just tried to control it. We’ve shown over the season that we are a team capable of scoring goals, but also of conceding them. We’ve got to improve.”

Despite the poor defensive performance, the attack played spectacular at times, with Stephan El Shaarawy the star and Dzeko a force. Dzeko was on hand to bundle in the winner five minutes into stoppage time as El Shaarawy lofted a short cross over a defender and into the chest of the Bosnian striker.

Serie A: Roma steals win late, Torino tops Atalanta

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Defensive calamities appeared to prove deadly with Roma barreling towards a disappointing draw with relegation-threatened Frosinone, but Edin Dzeko stole victory from the jaws of defeat, scoring in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal a vital three points amid a fight for Champions League qualification in a 3-2 win at Stadio Benito Stirpe.

Roma was tragically bad at the back from the opening whistle. Frosinone scored the opener just five minutes in after Steven N’Zonzi’s horrible back-pass was stolen, and while Robin Olsen saved the shot from Camillo Ciano with a diving effort, but the ball popped up into the air with crazy spin and when it came down near the line, it bounced back into the net.

[ LA LIGA: Messi grabs 50th career hat-trick ]

Frosinone nearly had a second in the 11th minute but Ciano blasted it over the bar while all alone at the back post. Down the other end, Marco Sportiello was required to tip a dangerous Stephan El Shaarawy header over the bar. Roma built into the game and finally equalized right on the half-hour mark as Edin Dzeko picked the pocket of clueless Frosinone defender Edoardo Goldaniga in the box and his shot pinged off the left post and spun into the back of the net. They took the lead just a minute later and turned the game on its head as Dzeko fed El Shaarawy on the break, and while his shot to the far post was tipped by Sportiello, Lorenzo Pellegrini was on hand to deliver a sliding tap-in at the far post as the ball trickled away.

El Shaarawy was lucky to stay on the pitch after a bad challenge late in the first half only produced yellow despite an apparent stamp, and the referee was not buzzed by VAR to take another look. Frosinone was struggling to regain a foothold in the match until the 68th minute when they came so close to an equalizer as Andrea Pinamonti came flying in to meet a cross with a flying ninja kick but he was out of control and whiffed on the effort. They would find the leveler with 10 minutes to go, pegging back Roma on the break as Pinamonti finished the counter that left both Aleksandr Kolarov and Daniele De Rossi looking silly.

It could have been worse had Olsen not made a spectacular save in the 85th minute to keep out a cut shot from substitute Marcello Trotta that nearly found the back of the net, but instead trickled safely away off the goalkeeper’s fingertips. With a disappointing result on the horizon, Dzeko was there to snatch victory, bundling home a short cross from El Shaarawy in the 95th minute. The win moved Roma back to within a point of fourth-placed AC Milan, erasing doubts the draw would have left with the club potentially three points back in fifth.

Elsewhere, Torino topped Atalanta 2-0 at home on goals from Armando Izzo and Iago Falque that neatly bracketed halftime. Just before the break, Izzo put the home side in front on a messy goal that eventually pinged its way to the 26-year-old defender at the far post for the opener. Just a minute after they returned from halftime, Torino found its second as a whipped delivery from Soualiho Meite passed Andrea Belotti but found Falque near the penalty spot who rifled in a low, scything effort that found the back of the net.

The win moves Torino into seventh, well in the thick of the crowded top half of the Serie A table. They’re level with both Lazio and Atalanta on points with 38, but still five back of fifth-placed Roma after their win.

Alexis leads Man United past Real Madrid; Spurs, Roma win

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The International Champions Cup brought some power matches to the preseason pitch on Wednesday, and two of the three brought some real entertainment.

[ MORE: Modric interested in Inter ]

Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid

Alexis Sanchez’s wonder assist joined his opening goal to make him the easy Man of the Match as Jose Mourinho’s men emerged victorious from Miami Gardens.

Karim Benzema scored for Real Madrid, but the reigning UEFA Champions League victors couldn’t find a second against United’s defense.

Now back to Alexis’ assist. Consider the athleticism involved in nodding this Juan Mata cross into the path of Ander Herrera. Insane.


Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 AC Milan

Georges-Kevin N’Koudou’s early second half hammer in Minneapolis was enough to let Spurs leave the ICC with two wins and a loss in penalties.


Barcelona 2-4 AS Roma

Rafinha gave Barcelona a 1-0 lead before Justin Kluivert fed Stephan El Shaarawy to leave it level at the break in Arlington.

New winger Malcom restored Barca’s lead from an assist courtesy former Montreal Impact man Ballou Tabla, but that was about all she wrote for the Blaugranas. Alessandro Florenzi, Bryan Cristante, and Diego Perotti scored thrice in eight minutes to hand Barca its first loss of the preseason.

Rafinha’s goal was pretty nice, though.

Serie A: Higuain fires Juve past Milan; Roma outlast Bologna

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

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

AC Milan 0-2 Juventus

Gonzalo Higuain bagged a brace on Saturday, as Juventus won their third straight game and continued to apply the pressure to Serie A leaders Napoli (Juve now sit top of the table on goal differential, with Napoli still to play this weekend). It’s been reported (by the press and the naked eye) that Higuain has slimmed down a bit after starting the season in relatively poor form and fitness.

Saturday’s opener came after 23 minutes, when the Argentine quickly touched the ball around one defender and fired low and hard from the top of the 18-yard box. It was Higuain’s 100th goal in Serie A (71 in three seasons for Napoli, 24 in his first season for Juventus, and his fifth thus far in 2017-18).

Higuain scored his sixth of the season to make it 2-0 just after the hour mark — another strike from distance.

AC Milan’s fourth defeat in six league games leaves them 12 points off the top spot, and already nine back of the fourth and final UEFA Champions League spot (having already played one more game than everyone else in the race).

Roma 1-0 Bologna

Roma, another of the half-dozen sides expected to factor into the top-four race, did just enough to top Bologna, courtesy of Stephan El Shaarawy’s 33rd-minute goal, the only one of the game.

Like Juve, it’s a third straight win for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side, which now sits fifth in the table, a point back of fourth-place Lazio and four back of Juve and Napoli.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Benevento vs. Lazio — 7:30 a.m. ET
Napoli vs. Sassuolo — 10 a.m. ET
Crotone vs. Fiorentina — 10 a.m. ET
Sampdoria vs. Chievo — 10 a.m. ET
SPAL vs. Genoa — 10 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. Atalanta — 10 a.m. ET
Torino vs. Cagliari — 3:45 p.m. ET

La Liga & Serie A roundup: Villarreal firm in 4th; Roma dominate Rome derby

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

Eibar 1-2 Villarreal

With seven games to go, Villarreal currently hold an eight-point lead in the race for Spain’s fourth and final UEFA Champions League place after winning away to ninth-place Eibar on Sunday. The hosts went ahead on 22 minutes, but Adrian and Roberto Soldado bagged goals either side of halftime (35th and 50th minutes) to break El Submarino Amarillo’s (The Yellow Submarine) four-game winless skid and reaffirm their grip on fourth.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Granada
Malaga 1-1 Espanyol
Sevilla 1-2 Real Sociedad


Udinese 3-1 Napoli

Napoli were the last side with any chance of preventing a half-decade of Serie A dominance by Juventus, but Sunday’s loss away to Udinese leaves Maurizio Sarri’s side six points back of Juve with seven games to play — a seemingly insurmountable deficit at this point.

Bruno Fernandes opened Sunday’s scoring from the penalty spot on 14 minutes, though Gonzalo Higuain’s 30 league goal of the season (31 games) equalized for the visitors 10 minutes later. Fernandes bagged the winner and his brace less than a minute into the second half, and Cyril Thereau added an insurance just before the hour mark.

Lazio 1-4 Roma

Four points behind Napoli, you’ll find Roma, who thrashed and embarrassed their capital rivals, Lazio, in what could be the final Rome Derby of Francesco Totti’s brilliant, one-club career (Totti was an unused substitute on Sunday). Stephan El Shaarawy put the “visitors” (they share the Olympic Stadium) ahead after 15 minutes (his sixth goal in nine league games since joining the Romans in January), and Edin Dzeko made it 2-0 just after the hour mark.

Marco Paolo pulled one back for the “hosts” with 15 minutes left to play, but Alessandro Florenzi and Diego Perotti provided the insurance and exclamation point goals in the 83rd and 87th minutes. Roma’s lead on Fiorentina and Inter Milan in the race for Italy’s third and final Champions League place currently stands at seven and eight points, respectively, with seven games to go.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Fiorentina 1-1 Sampdoria
Inter Milan 1-2 Torino
Chievo 3-1 Palermo
Genoa 4-0 Frosinone
Atalanta 2-1 AC Milan