Teenager Esposito Breaks 60-Year Record As Inter Go Top

Inter Milan’s Italian forward Sebastiano Esposito celebrates after scoring a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match against Genoa on December 21, 2019, at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

 

Sebastiano Esposito became Inter Milan’s youngest scorer in more than 60 years on Saturday when he hit the target in a 4-0 romp against Genoa, helping his side return to the top of Serie A.

The 17-year-old put away a second-half penalty which made him the youngest Inter scorer since Mario Corso in 1958.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice with Roberto Gagliardini adding another as Inter moved level with champions Juventus at the top on 42 points.

Juve had taken top spot on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over Sampdoria before heading to Saudi Arabia where they face Lazio in the Italian Super Cup on Sunday.

However, Inter are now in pole position courtesy of goal difference.

“I just saw my mum in the stands and the goal is for her,” a tearful Esposito, who is 17 years and 172 days old, told Sky Sport Italia.

“I didn’t sleep at all last night (after he was told he would start the game). I spent the whole night thinking about what would happen today.”

The teenager also hailed Lukaku who gave him the ball to take the penalty even though he could have finished the game with a hat-trick.

“Romelu is a fantastic person as well as being an extraordinary player. He told me, just go out there, make a decision and hit the ball.”

The defeat left Genoa, now without a Serie A win at Inter since 1994, second from bottom in the table, four points from safety after a 10th defeat this season.

Lukaku opened the scoring after 31 minutes, heading in a cross from Antonio Candreva.

Within a minute it was 2-0 when Lukaku teed-up Gagliardini whose shot was deflected off Cristian Romero and into the goal.

Esposito added his name to the scoresheet from the spot in the 64th minute when Kevin Agudelo fouled Gagliardini.

Lukaku’s gesture to his teenage teammate was rewarded when he hit a long-range drive which went in off the underside of the crossbar for his second of the night and his team’s fourth seven minutes later.

“I saw him in pre-season training and he just looked like a little child, even his face seems so young,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte of Esposito.

“He has really grown in the last couple of months and he has a great future ahead of him.”

Cagliari suffered their first away defeat of the season, losing 2-1 at Udinese as their Champions League hopes suffered a blow.

Rolando Maran’s side have now won just once in their last five games, claiming only a single point in their three most recent outings.

Argentine Rodrigo de Paul gave Udinese a first-half lead before Joao Pedro levelled for Cagliari in the 84th minute.

However, Ivory Coast international Seko Fofana restored Udinese’s advantage just a minute later to wrap up the three points.

Earlier on Saturday, Fiorentina fired coach Vincenzo Montella with the club struggling in 15th in Serie A.

Montella, a 45-year-old former Italy winger, managed Fiorentina from 2012-15 leading the club to two fourth-place finishes in Serie A before he was fired.

After spells in charge at Sampdoria, AC Milan and Sevilla, he returned to Florence in April.

However, Fiorentina lost 4-1 at home to Roma on Friday and have taken just two points from their last seven games.

AFP

Thiago Motta Appointed Genoa Coach

Italian former football player Thiago Motta is seen ahead of the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace (RCS) on September 14, 2019 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Martin BUREAU / AFP

 

Former Italy international Thiago Motto was appointed coach of Serie A strugglers Genoa on Tuesday hours after Aurelio Andreazzoli was sacked.

Brazilian-born Motta played for Paris Saint-Germain from 2012 to 2018, with his only previous coaching experience with PSG’s U19 team, which he managed until July 2019.

The 37-year-old takes over a Genoa side that has  won just one game out of eight played this season against Fiorentina on September 1.

They are second from bottom of the Serie A table with 20 goals conceded after Sunday’s 5-1 defeat to Parma.

Motta oversaw his first training session on Tuesday and will be officially presented at the north-western side on Wednesday.

The former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid midfielder played for one season with Genoa, before moving to Inter Milan in 2009, winning the treble the following season under Jose Mourinho.

He won five Ligue 1 titles at Paris Saint-Germain, and two La Liga crowns with Barcelona.

Motta earned 30 caps playing for Italy, reaching the finals of Euro 2012.

Genoa escaped relegation from Serie A last season on the final day under Cesare Prandelli, who was replaced by Andreazzoli in June.

Motta’s first game in charge will be on Saturday against Mario Balotelli’s Brescia, before travelling to Turin to play defending champions Juventus next week.

AFP

Italy Demolishes Disaster Bridge That Claimed 43 Lives

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (C) speaks during a visit to the demolition site of the western section of the remains of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa on February 8, 2019.

 

Engineers started the delicate task of taking apart Genoa’s Morandi motorway bridge on Friday almost six months after its partial collapse during a storm killed 43 people and injured dozens.

Thousands of tonnes of steel, concrete and asphalt have already been removed from the spectacularly truncated high-rise bridge in the northern Italian port city to make it lighter before the “deconstruction” operation began.

“It’s an important day, the first step on a path that we hope will be as short as possible,” Prime Minister Giussepe Conte told journalists at the site.

Four powerful strand-jacks positioned on the bridge by an enormous crane began unhooking and slowly lowering a 36-by-18 meter (118-by-59 foot) concrete slab weighing over 900 tonnes.

READ ALSO: Italy Declares State Of Emergency After Bridge Collapse

The jacks are the same as those used to right the Costa Concordia cruise liner off Tuscany in 2013 after it ran aground and capsized with the loss of 32 lives.

The operation to lower the vast slab around 48 meters to the ground is expected to take at least eight hours.

 Homage to the victims 

The operation will help the city move on from the August disaster, which beyond the human cost also ripped out one of the city’s main transport arteries.

Italy’s most famous living architect Renzo Piano, a Genoa native who helped design the Pompidou Centre in Paris, has provided the design for the replacement bridge that “will last for 1,000 years”.

While the new structure has been designed to look different from the old one, opened in 1967, it will contain a homage to the victims of the accident.

It will feature 43 lamp poles in memory of those killed when a section collapsed during a storm on August 14, sending dozens of vehicles and tonnes of concrete tumbling to the ground.

The new bridge commission, headed by Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci, noted the new design “rests on pillars, respecting the feeling of psychological aversion in the city (to) other types of the bridge with suspended or cable-stayed parts”.

It will “have elements of a boat because that is something from Genoa,” Piano has said, describing a streamlined and luminous white structure.

The new bridge is estimated to cost 202 million euros (US$229 million), making it one of the most expensive in Europe.

It is expected to be open to traffic by April 2020, junior transport minister Edoardo Rizi said on Thursday, with the demolition of the old structure due to take 190 days.

 Invisible decay 

The old cable-stayed bridge was made from reinforced concrete, with the steel cables linking the bridge’s towers also covered in concrete.

One theory investigators are looking into is that the steel within the concrete had decayed, although this would not have been visible.

There have also been allegations of poor maintenance, poor design and questionable building practices.

Explosives will be used to demolish the bridge from around February 20, Genoa’s Repubblica newspaper reported.

The eastern side of the bridge, where the structure gave way, still needs to be examined by experts and prosecutors.

Autostrade per l’Italia (Aspi) operated the failed bridge and several of its managers could face trial over the collapse.

Ahead of anticipated court proceedings, Aspi is still negotiating compensation payments with bereaved relatives, reportedly for a total of 50 million euros.

For the first time in an Italian public works contract, the construction companies face stiff penalties of up to 202,000 euros a day for any delays.

Civil engineering expert Pierre Corfdir said planning the demolition of a bridge this size (over 1,180 metres) would normally take around three years.

“This is one of the most complex bridge demolitions” because of the built-up environment, said Corfdir, who works at France’s Cerema institute.

“There’s also time pressure: they have to rebuild a bridge that is of vital importance to the city’s economy.”

AFP

Juventus Held By Genoa To End Perfect Start

Genoa’s Polish forward Krzysztof Piatek (L) and Juventus’ Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia (R) go for a header during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus vs Genoa on October 20, 2018 at the Juventus Allianz stadium in Turin. Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo scored but wasteful Juventus had to settle for a 1-1 stalemate at home to Genoa to bring to an end the Italian champions’ perfect start to the season on Saturday.

With eight Serie A wins and two in the Champions League Juve were all set to extend that fine run when Ronaldo put Massimiliano Allegri’s men into a first-half lead.

But Juve were made to pay for failing to convert a hatful of chances when Daniel Bessa headed in a second-half equaliser.

AFP

Shattered Lives After Bridge Collapses In Italy

A general view shows the Morandi motorway bridge one day after a section collapsed in Genoa on August 15, 2018. Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

 

When huge slabs of Genoa’s most famous bridge suddenly crashed to the ground carrying cars and trucks with them, people living in the shadow of the crumbling structure thought they were in the grips of a natural disaster. 

“I was at home and all the buildings were shaking, worse than in a huge earthquake,” said 86-year-old Pasquale Ranieri, who lives in a five-storey building under the Morandi bridge.

Dozens of people were killed when a vast span of the viaduct fell away late Tuesday morning without warning, crashing onto railways lines far below and killing dozens.

While the buildings under the viaduct were largely spared the impact of the falling concrete, more than 600 people evacuated from apartments under the shard of unscathed bridge face uncertainty about when, if ever, they will be allowed to live in their homes again.

“I stayed with my family last night but this is going to last months and months. I want to go home,” said Ranieri, who was worried about his food rotting now that his electricity was cut off.

Going home to recover belongings was still impossible on Wednesday, while Genoa’s mayor Marco Bucci said the surviving stretch of bridge may have to be torn down — and the homes underneath may not be protected.

“There is a risk that the houses are taken down,” he said.

Rescuers were scouring the mountainous piles of rubble searching for victims on Wednesday, as the toll rose to 39 with others still missing.

Frozen at the edge of a yawning precipice, a single green truck sits next to the edge of the surviving stretch of bridge, having halted just seconds from disaster.

 ‘It is a scandal’ 

At the security perimeter encircling the endangered buildings, two police officers stand guard, refusing to bow to the pleas of the dozens of inhabitants who have been desperate to go home since dawn.

Grazia Pistoro, a frail 83-year-old wearing just a thin leopard print blouse, was pleading to be able to collect clothes from her apartment.

“I didn’t sleep, I haven’t eaten,” she said.

“There are also people who need to get medicines.”

The Liguria regional government said some 632 people have been evacuated, with around a dozen buildings affected.

Bruna Millaci’s apartment is just outside the security perimeter.

“Yesterday I went shopping at the mall when I heard people talking about the collapsed bridge”, the 53-year-old translator said.

“I dropped everything and ran back in the rain to see if my two cats were still alive and the building was standing up, I was very scared.”

Anger is growing as authorities struggle to explain the cause of the sudden collapse of the decades-old bridge, which has been dogged by structural problems, as the government blamed the company in charge of motorways for the disaster.

“I can’t tell myself that this is real, I still feel like this is a movie,” said Francesco Bucchieri, 62, who watched the disaster unfold.

“There has been negligence, they underestimated the danger… we need to find the culprits, it is a scandal, the guilty must pay!”

AFP

Seria A: Dybala Hat-Trick Silences Genoa

Juventus’ Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Genoa v Juventus at The Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa on August 26, 2017.
Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Argentina forward Paulo Dybala hit a hat-trick as Juventus recovered from two goals down after a dreadful start to win 4-2 at Genoa in Serie A on Saturday.

With confidence still flying high after last season’s shock 3-1 home win over the champions, Genoa looked on their way to causing another upset after breaching Gianluigi Buffon’s goal twice in the opening minutes.

Seconds into the game the Luigi Ferraris stadium erupted when Goran Pandev skipped past Alex Sandro, rolled the ball across the area and saw his effort deflect off Miralem Pjanic’s knee and into the net.

Memories of last season’s reverse must have come flooding back for visiting coach Massimiliano Allegri, especially when the hosts doubled their lead six minutes later.

For the second successive league game, Juve conceded a penalty following a decision by the video assistant referee (VAR) after defender Daniele Rugani kicked the back of Andrej Galabinov’s heel.

Although Galabinov looked slightly offside, officials consulted the VAR technology to award the penalty, which Galabinov got up to convert.

Juve, however, refused to buckle. Pjanic made part amends for his earlier mishap when he pulled back from the byline for Dybala to beat Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin at his near post before the quarter hour.

The goal was enough to instil Juve confidence and Perin was tested by both Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain shortly after, while Galabinov nodded just wide from Darko Lazovic’s cross at the other end.

Perin, making his first home appearance since rupturing his ACL last season, did well to thwart Dybala twice in succession after he latched on to Pjanic’s pass, scrambling to deny Mario Mandzukic on the follow-up, too.

The VAR was used again, this time to Juve’s advantage, when a penalty was awarded for a Lazovic handball from a Cuadrado pass. Dybala stepped up to convert and level four minutes into first-half stoppage time.

Juve completed their comeback just after the hour thanks to a fine piece of skill from Colombian forward Cuadrado, who controlled Mandzukic’s lob before beating Perin with a left-footed curler into the far top corner.

To their credit, Genoa dug deep and Diego Laxalt was unlucky when his strike skimmed the bottom of the far post, Buffon then hurrying to smother Raffaele Palladino’s close-range effort.

But hopes of snatching a share of the points were tempered by a fine third from Dybala, the diminutive number 10 collecting from Higuain before firing a low drive past Perin.

In Saturday’s late game Roma host Inter Milan and former coach Luciano Spalletti at the Stadio Olimpico.

AFP