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Football Extras: SPAL score first win over Juve in 62 years

Last updated on: April 14, 2019 10:13 IST

IMAGE: SPAL players celebrate after defeating Juventus in Saturday's Serie A match at Paolo Mazza, Ferrara, Italy. Photograph: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

Juventus missed the chance to clinch an eighth consecutive Serie A title on Saturday as SPAL stunned them by coming from behind to win 2-1 at the Stadio Paolo Mazza, their first victory over Juve in 62 years.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side, already on 84 points, knew a draw would be enough to wrap up the championship with six rounds remaining and took the lead in the first half through Moise Kean.

 

However, the home side fought back after the break as goals from Kevin Bonifazi and Sergio Floccari secured their first win against the Italian champions since February 1957.

The Turin club can still be named champions this weekend if second-placed Napoli fail to win away to rock-bottom Chievo on Sunday.

Late on Saturday, Edin Dzeko scored his first home goal in almost a year to seal a 1-0 win for AS Roma over Udinese while AC Milan beat Lazio 1-0.

Allegri stood by his decision to pick a heavily rotated side, with an eye towards Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Ajax in Turin, after the first leg ended 1-1.

“It would’ve been easy to field the first choice XI today and get the Scudetto but we’ve had such a remarkable run of results this season that it was more important to focus on the Champions League game coming up," he told Sky Italia.

“The key to Juventus winning the Scudetto is that we do well in the head-to-head clashes but above all bring home the points everywhere else.

"You usually win the Scudetto with 84-86 points but last term Napoli had 91 –- a club record –- and still finished second, so our performance that season was extraordinary."

It was Juventus’s second defeat of the league season and they remain 20 points clear of Napoli, while SPAL have risen to 13th place on 35 points, seven clear of the relegation zone.

Andrea Barzagli and Juan Cuadrado returned for Juve after injury lay-offs, while 17-year-old defender Paolo Gozzi and midfielder Grigoris Kastanos made their Serie A debuts for the club, as did substitute Stephy Mavdidi.

It was 19-year-old, on-form striker Kean who caught the eye again when he put Juve in front with an instinctive finish after 29 minutes.

However, SPAL were rewarded for an impressive start to the second half when Bonifazi rose to head in his team’s equaliser from a corner.

The hosts continued to play on the front foot and were rewarded with 15 minutes remaining when Floccari raced on to a loose ball in the area and swept a finish into the corner.

It was only SPAL’s second ever win against Juventus but marked their third successive home victory after they beat Roma and Lazio.

AC Milan beat Lazio in key Serie A top-four battle

AC Milan strengthened their grip on fourth place in Serie A with a tense 1-0 win over Lazio at San Siro on Saturday that ended with a scuffle breaking out between players from both sides.

Gennaro Gattuso's side knew they had to win to remain in the final Champions League qualification spot after AS Roma had defeated Udinese 1-0 earlier in the day.

Franck Kessie's penalty 10 minutes from time secured a vital three points for Milan against one of their rivals in the race for a top-four finish, extending their lead over Lazio to six points. However, Lazio have a game in hand.

Tensions spilled over after the final whistle as a melee broke out between the two sets of players who will face off again at the San Siro on April 24 in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final. The first leg ended goalless in Rome.

"I even gave myself a thigh strain running over to calm everyone down," Gattuso told DAZN.

"I was on the bench, I saw some words were flying between the sets of players. The important thing is that it ends there.

 “When I was a player, this sort of thing fired me up, but now I see it with different eyes and am too old for that.

"Plus, if I launch a slap, I’m very likely to get one back and they’ve all been to the gym more than me.”

Milan are fourth on 55 points, two behind third-placed Inter Milan, who play at Frosinone on Sunday.

Fifth-placed Roma are just one point behind Milan, while Atalanta (52) and Torino (49) still have to play in this round of matches.

"We already showed a week ago that we’re picking ourselves up from an ugly period and today we battled, we did well to have courage and create problems," Gattuso added.

"Lazio are always a tough team to face, they are a physical, fast and technical team.

"Compliments to the guys, now we must rediscover consistency. I only ask my players to fight for the shirt, not for me, it is the history of the club that will endure."

Ciro Immobile threatened for Lazio early on as his low shot drew an agile save from Pepe Reina and the Italy striker came close again just before halftime when his angled finish came back off the outside of the post.

The home team created chances of their own as Krzysztof Piatek headed narrowly wide on the half-hour mark before the Pole had a shot charged down by goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha after the break.

With just over 10 minutes remaining, referee Gianluca Rocchi awarded Milan a penalty for handball, only for the decision to be overturned following a video assistant referee (VAR) review.

However, only a minute later Rocchi again pointed to the spot when Lazio substitute Riza Durmisi barged into Mateo Musacchio inside the area, and Kessie stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way from 12 yards.

Strakosha acrobatically tipped away a curling effort from Suso in stoppage time, before Lazio had their own penalty appeals waved away following Ricardo Rodriguez's tackle on Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

Sancho double sends nervous Dortmund back on top

Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho scored twice in six minutes on Saturday to help his team to a nervous 2-1 victory over Mainz 05 that sent them back to the top of the Bundesliga.

Sancho's goals were enough to lift Dortmund, who were dominant in the first half but inexplicably eased off after the break, to 66 points with five games left to play.

It leaves them two points ahead of Bayern Munich but the champions can move back to the summit again if they beat Fortuna Duesseldorf on Sunday.

While the three points were crucial in their title race, Dortmund's second-half performance triggered alarm bells.

"Roman Buerki saved our three points today," said Dortmund captain Marco Reus, referring to the Dortmund goalkeeper's 87th-minute triple save.

"The first half was absolutely good but the second half was scary. We had almost no scoring chances and we cannot be satisfied with it. We just gave control to Mainz. If you want to be a champion then you have to go beyond your limits."

Dortmund, eager to make amends for last week's 5-0 demolition by Bayern, put in a whirlwind start and Mainz almost scored an own goal when Danny Latza deflected a Mario Goetze cutback onto the post in the sixth minute.

Jacob Bruun Larsen twice came close before Goetze tried again in the 17th minute and found England international Sancho at the far post who drilled in for the lead.

This was Goetze's seventh assist this season, the most since the 2013-14 campaign when he was playing for Bayern.

The 19-year-old Sancho then doubled the score in similar fashion in the 24th minute, firing in a Thomas Delaney assist that made him the youngest ever Dortmund player to reach 10 league goals in one season.

The hosts, though, slackened after the break, allowing Mainz, who had hit the post on the stroke of halftime, to come forward.

The visitors hit the woodwork again with Karim Onisiwo in the 63rd and cut the deficit with Robin Quaison's deserved goal in the 83rd.

Buerki then made his sensational triple save from point blank range three minutes from the end, including two stops to deny Mainz striker Anthony Ujah, and protected Dortmund's invaluable three points.

Pele recovering well after kidney stone operation

Pele
IMAGE: Brazilian soccer great Pele has suffered from kidney and prostate problems, and also had hip replacement surgery, in recent years. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Brazilian soccer great Pele had a successful operation to remove a kidney stone on Saturday, doctors in Sao Paulo said.

Pele had the surgery at the Israelite Albert Einstein hospital.

"The procedure was a success and the patient is back in his room," a brief statement from doctors said.

Considered by many the game's finest player and the only man to have won three World Cups, Pele had also been admitted to hospital in France last week after suffering a fever following an event in the city with French World Cup-winner Kylian Mbappe.

He was soon discharged but his doctors in Brazil decided to admit him again when he returned home on Tuesday. 

The 78-year-old former Santos and New York Cosmos player has suffered from kidney and prostate problems and also had hip replacement surgery in recent years.

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