Lukaku, Hakimi Spark As Five-Goal Inter See Off Benevento

Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku reacts during the Italian Serie A football match Benevento vs Inter on September 30, 2020 at the Ciro Vigorito stadium in Benevento. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Romelu Lukaku scored twice, the first within 30 seconds and Achraf Hakimi impressed on his debut start as Inter Milan beat promoted Benevento 5-2 in Serie A on Wednesday.

After their last-gasp 4-3 win over Fiorentina last weekend Antonio Conte’s side maintained the momentum at Filippo Inzaghi’s men who had shocked Sampdoria 3-2 last time out.

Belgium forward Lukaku followed on from his late goal against Fiorentina breaking the deadlock following a speedy Hakimi cross.

 

Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku (L) and Benevento’s Italian defender Christian Maggio go for the ball during the Italian Serie A football match Benevento vs Inter on September 30, 2020 at the Ciro Vigorito stadium in Benevento. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Hakimi, who has spent the past two seasons on loan from Real Madrid at Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, unlocked the match with his acceleration down the right finding Lukaku to blast in the opener.

The Morocco international then set up Roberto Gagliardini to volley in after 25 minutes and Lukaku for Belgian’s second just before the half hour.

Hakimi got on the scoresheet himself three minutes before the break, catching the Benevento defence napping with Argentine Lautaro Martinez making in five with 20 minutes to play.

Arthur Vidal and Christian Eriksen also came close to scoring for last season’s runners-up, the Dane rattling the crossbar late.

Gianluca Caprari scored for Benevento after 34 and 76 minutes.

“I’m very happy with how I have adapted to the team even if I still have to learn certain mechanisms,” said Hakimi.

“Some moves are similar to those I did in Dortmund, I have the skills to play in this team.

“The team mates helped me a lot, and I’m learning quickly.

“The Scudetto? We are working towards this, we have a great team to fight for this goal.”

The match was one of three postponed from the opening weekend of Serie A because of teams’ European commitments.

Atalanta travel to Lazio later on Wednesday after promoted La Spezia getting their first-ever top-flight win 2-0 against Udinese.

Andrey Galabinov scored in either half with the Ligurians holding on despite playing the last half an hour a man down after Claudio Terzi was sent off for two yellow cards.

Ronaldo Shines As Juventus Win Ninth Straight Serie A Title

Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Sampdoria played behind closed doors at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on July 26, 2020. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP
Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Sampdoria played behind closed doors at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on July 26, 2020. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo powered Juventus to their ninth straight Serie A title on Sunday in a 2-0 win over Sampdoria that put them over the line with two matches to spare.

Ronaldo opened the scoring deep into first half stoppage time in Turin and then had a hand in Federico Bernardeschi netting the second after 66 minutes.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner missed a late penalty but Maurizio Sarri’s side moved seven points ahead of second-placed Inter Milan to seal a 36th ‘Scudetto’.

The title is Sarri’s first and extends a record run which Antonio Conte started with three titles from 2012 and Massimiliano Allegri continued with the following five.

Sarri’s team had missed the chance to wrap up the title on Thursday when the ‘Old Lady’ of Italian football fell to a 2-1 defeat at Udinese.

But they made no mistake at the Allianz Stadium despite being pushed hard by Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria, one of the most in-form teams since the return of Serie A from the three-month coronavirus lockdown.

“It is the most beautiful success, even the most difficult because we wanted it and suffered,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci.

“We started on a new path with a lot of scepticism around us, we gave everything, despite some slip-ups.

“It was a complicated year for everyone in the world, it was difficult to return after so many months not playing.”

Ronaldo ‘delight’

Despite his 35 years Ronaldo shrugged off the quick succession of matches played in hot summer weather after the lockdown, bringing his tally to 31 this season.

The Portuguese striker has scored 10 goals since football returned in Italy on June 20, more than any other player in Europe.

He also matched former Italy World Cup winner Felice Borel, who was the last player to score 31 goals for Juventus in the 1933-34 season.

But he remains three goals behind Serie A’s leading scorer Ciro Immobile, who scored a hat-trick earlier in Lazio’s 5-1 win over Hellas Verona.

“Delighted for the second consecutive championship and to continue building the history of this great and splendid club,” said Ronaldo on Instagram.

“This title is dedicated to all Juventus fans, in particular to those who have suffered and are suffering from the pandemic that has taken us all by surprise by overturning the world.

“It was not easy! Your courage, your attitude and your determination were the strength we needed to face this tight final of the championship and fight to the end for this title that belongs to all of Italy.

“A big hug to you all!”

The breakthrough came in the final move of the first half, when Pjanic cleverly rolled a pass across the penalty area to allow Ronaldo to lash home his 31st league goal of the season.

Juventus made sure of the title in second half when Bernardeschi pounced on the rebound of a Ronaldo shot and tapped in a decisive finish.

Sampdoria had no way back into the game and had to play the final 20 minutes a man down when Morten Thorsby was sent off for a second yellow card.

But the match could prove costly for Juventus before the return leg of their Champions League last 16 tie against Lyon on August 7, when they need to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first match in France.

Danilo took a knock, while influential forward Paulo Dybala limping off with a muscular problem early in the match will be a worry for Sarri with Lyon’s visit to Turin less than two weeks away.

 

AFP

Ibrahimovic-inspired AC Milan Rally To Defeat Juventus In Stunning Comeback

AC Milan's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) reacts next to Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) after scoring a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Juventus played behind closed doors on July 7, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP
AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) reacts next to Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) after scoring a penalty during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Juventus played behind closed doors on July 7, 2020 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Juventus wasted the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of Serie A as the defending champions blew a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 at a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired AC Milan on Tuesday, after second-placed Lazio’s shock defeat at Lecce.

Maurizio Sarri’s men led through goals from Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo early in the second half, but were then blown away by a brilliant Milan display as Ibrahimovic scored and had an assist.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli, who could reportedly be sacked at the end of the season, saw his side boost their hopes of European qualification by moving above Roma and Napoli into fifth.

“I am not remotely thinking about August 3 or the future. I am thinking of the next game,” Pioli told DAZN. “There have been some tough moments, but I love what I do.”

Juve remain on track for a ninth straight title, sitting seven points clear of Lazio with seven matches remaining, but could have rendered the race all but over with a victory.

The loss snapped the Turin giants’ seven-game winning run in the league.

Juventus dominated the first half without finding a breakthrough as the closest they came was when Leonardo Bonucci glanced Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick wide when unmarked only three yards from goal.

Ibrahimovic had a couple of speculative efforts easily held by Wojciech Szczesny at the other end and also saw a goal ruled out for offside.

The reigning champions burst into life after the interval though, as French international Adrien Rabiot drove forward and fired a fine left-footed shot from the edge of the area into the top corner to score his first Serie A goal.

Ronaldo doubled the advantage less than eight minutes into the second half, netting for the fifth consecutive game and for the 26th time in Serie A this term with a cool finish.

But Milan were handed a lifeline out of nowhere on the hour mark as Bonucci was penalised for handball, and Ibrahimovic stepped up to score his sixth goal since returning to the San Siro from LA Galaxy in January.

The 38-year-old made it back-to-back games with a goal and an assist in the 66th minute, teeing up Franck Kessie to score with a deflected strike.

Incredibly, Milan completed the turnaround with their third goal in five minutes as Rafael Leao beat Szczesny at his near post.

Ante Rebic had an excellent chance to make it 4-2 with 12 minutes remaining, but Szczesny did well to save with his boot,

The Croatian international wrapped up the points two minutes later though with his 10th league goal of the season.

Lazio stumble again

Earlier, Lazio, who lost 3-0 to Milan at the weekend, slumped to a second straight loss, beaten 2-1 at relegation-threatened Lecce.

Defender Patric added to Lazio’s problems in injury time as he was dismissed for biting Lecce’s Giulio Donati and could face a lengthy ban, especially with the strict COVID-19 regulations in place.

“Our dream must continue, which is to qualify mathematically for the Champions League,” Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.

“We hope to achieve it as soon as possible, but that is our only objective.”

Lecce ended a six-match losing streak in dramatic fashion to climb out of the relegation zone.

Lazio were without strikers Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo through suspension against Milan, but both played a part as the latter gave the visitors a fifth minute lead, shortly after Lecce midfielder Marco Mancosu’s strike was ruled out by VAR for a handball in the build-up.

But the hosts grabbed a deserved equaliser on the half-hour mark when Senegalese forward Khouma Babacar nodded home Filippo Falco’s cross.

Lazio survived a massive scare on the stroke of half-time as Lecce were awarded a penalty for a controversial handball against Patric, but Mancosu spooned his spot-kick over the crossbar.

Lecce centre-back Fabio Lucioni headed in a corner to give the home team a shock lead early in the second half.

Patric’s moment of madness came in the third minute of added time when he bit Donati on the arm.

 

AFP

Italy’s Serie A To Resume On June 20

FILE PHOTO: Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match. PHOTO: Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Italy’s Serie A can resume on June 20 after a three-month absence in a country hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said on Thursday.

“The Technical and Scientific Committee gave its agreement on the protocol and the federation assured me that it had a Plan B and a Plan C,” Spadafora said after a video conference meeting with Italian football chiefs.

“In light of these considerations, the championship can resume on June 20.”

Italy football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina assured the minister that there would be a play-off system if the championship were again interrupted.

“We had a very useful meeting,” said Spadafora.

“From the start, I said that football could restart once all the security conditions had been met and with the agreement of the Technical and Scientific Committee on the different protocols.”

Spadafora said that Italian Cup semi-final matches, between Inter Milan and Napoli and AC Milan and Juventus, could be played the week before the championship returned.

“Italy has started to return to normal life again, it is only right that football should do the same,” he continued.

“I also hope to be able to send a positive signal to the whole country by taking advantage of the week from June 13 to 20 to conclude the Italian Cup,” he added with hopes of staging the semi-finals on the weekend of June 13-14 and the final on June 17.

The announcement of the resumption of the Italian league comes just after the English Premier League confirmed it will restart on June 17.

The German championship has already resumed and Spain’s La Liga will return to the pitch the week of June 11.

Among the five major European championships, only the French Ligue 1 has been definitively stopped.

No top-flight matches in Italy have been played since Sassuolo beat Brescia 3-0 on March 9, before the championship was suspended by a pandemic which has killed over 33,000 people in the country.

Most teams have 12 games left to play, but there were four postponed fixtures.

AFP

Arsenal Signs Alexis Sanchez

Sanchez1English Premier League side, Arsenal have signed Chile forward, Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee in what is believed to be £30million.

According to the club’s official website, the forward flew in from Spain to finalise personal terms and complete a medical. He is expected to join up with his new team-mates at the end of July, after spending some time on holiday following the World Cup.

The 25 year old opted for the Gunners ahead of league rivals, Liverpool and Italian Serie A champions, Juventus.

Liverpool, who were runners up in the league last season, were keen on recruiting the Chilean as part of the deal that is likely to take striker Luis Suarez from Anfield to the Nou Camp, but that is now expected to be a straight cash transfer.

Juventus had also shown strong interest in Sanchez but are reportedly closing in on Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata.

Sanchez, who has made 71 appearances for Chile, scoring 24 goals and helping his country reach the World Cup last 16 where they lost on penalties to Brazil, could not hide his joy of joining up with the gunners. Sanchez said: “I’m so happy to be joining Arsenal, a club which has a great manager, a fantastic squad of players, huge support around the world and a great stadium in London.

“I’m looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to be playing for Arsenal in the Premier League and Champions League.

“I will give my best to Arsenal and want to make all the supporters happy.”

Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger says Sanchez is a fantastic player and would be a good addition to the team.

“As many people have seen during the World Cup this summer, Alexis is a fantastic footballer and we are delighted that he is joining us at Arsenal Football Club.

“Alexis will add power, creativity and much quality to our squad and we are all looking forward to him joining up with us in a few weeks.

“He has consistently produced top-quality performances at the highest level for a number of seasons now and we are all excited to see him integrate into the Arsenal squad. I’m sure all Arsenal supporters will join me in welcoming Alexis to our club.”

In a statement on the club’s official website, Sanchez’s squad number would be revealed soon through Arsenal’s official Instagram account. His move will give Liverpool’s Urugyuan forward, Luis Suarez the green light to sign for Barcelona for £75m.

The move from Anfield to the Nou Camp could be delayed until Friday, however, as they await further clarification over the striker’s four-month ban from FIFA.

Arsenal is also expected to announce the capture of Newcastle’s £11m right-back Mathieu Debuchy, who completed his medical on Monday.

In addition to pursuing the France right full back, the Gunners are still in the market for a holding midfielder and back-up goalkeeper.