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Sports Shorts: Is F1's baby Verstappen a talent like Senna?

September 25, 2014 08:18 IST
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Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen poses. Photograph: Red Bull

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen is a rare talent comparable to the late Ayrton Senna, according to Red Bull's Formula One consultant Helmut Marko.

Verstappen, who turns 17 next week, will become Formula One's youngest ever driver in 2015 when he makes his debut with Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso.

The son of former racer Jos Verstappen had his first test in a 2012 car only this month and could take part in Friday practice at next month's Japanese Grand Prix.

His signing has been controversial but Marko, who is close to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and has been influential as a talent spotter in the past, said Verstappen was ready.

"He is an exceptional talent that comes along only once in decades," the Austrian told the website on Wednesday.

Asked who he could be compared to, Marko mentioned the triple champion many consider the greatest of them all.

"Most likely Ayrton Senna. And in such a case you must not look at his age," he said.

"He has been talking with people who are experts when it comes to the development of youngsters and they all say that (in terms of) his mind he is more like 22 than 16.

"He has been racing since he was four years old -- professionally. So we expect him to be competitive from the first race," added Marko.

"We are not playing the lottery -- we know what we are doing. And success proves us right."

Serie A: Napoli squander two-goal lead as Juve, Roma win

Manuel Iturbe, right, with his teammate Miralem Pjanic of AS Roma

Manuel Iturbe, right, with his teammate Miralem Pjanic of AS Roma celebrates. Photograph: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Napoli's Serie A troubles continued on Wednesday when they were jeered off the pitch at a half-empty Sao Paolo stadium after a 3-3 draw to promoted Palermo.

The match followed two successive 1-0 defeats for Rafael Benitez's side and saw the home side squander a 2-0 and 3-2 lead.

Leading pair Juventus and AS Roma had no such problems as they won to maintain their perfect records after four games.

Arturo Vidal scored twice to give title-holders Juventus a 3-0 win over Cesena as they became the first team in Serie A history to complete their opening four without conceding a goal.

A spectacular late Miralem Pjanic free kick gave Roma a 2-1 win at Parma after Adem Ljajic had put the visitors in front and Paolo De Ceglie had levelled for Parma.

Pablo Daniel Osvaldo scored with a scissors kick to set Inter Milan on the way to a 2-0 win over Atalanta while unbeaten Sampdoria were 2-1 winners at home to Chievo. Verona, who drew 2-2 with Genoa, also remained unbeaten.

Inter, Sampdoria and Verona all have eight points, four behind Juve and Roma. Napoli, who were expected to challenge for the title this season, have four.

Napoli coach Benitez, who has exasperated fans with his rotation of the team, this time left Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain on the bench.

It did not seem to matter as Kalidou Koulibaly and Duvan Zapata, with a pinpoint curling effort, put them 2-0 ahead after only 11 minutes.

Instead of stamping their authority on the game, Napoli allowed the visitors back into it and Palermo were level within 13 minutes.

Andrea Belotti headed one back for the Sicilians and Franco Vazquez turned in Michel Morganella's as the San Paolo turned restless again.

Napoli, regained their lead when Jose Callejon scored with an angled drive in first-half stoppage time but they failed to finish off the match and Belotti equalised just after the hour from Vazquez's inviting low ball into the area.

Juventus had little trouble disposing of promoted Cesena after Vidal, seemingly fully recovered from a knee injury, converted a penalty after 18 minutes following a handball.

The Chilean was on target again with a long-range shot in the 64th minute and Stephan Lichtsteiner burst clear to fire the third with five minutes left.

Roma were on the point of dropping their first points of the season until Pjanic scored with a dipping free kick with two minutes to go.

Osvaldo's goal against Atalanta was even more spectacular as the former Southampton and AS Roma player met Fredy Guarin's free kick with a scissors kick. Brazilian Hernanes added Inter's second with a free kick.

Juan Cuadrado and Borja Valero both hit the post as Fiorentina, where striker Mario Gomez was missing with a thigh strain, were held by Sassuolo.

Bundesliga: Late Immobile goal rescues draw for Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa

Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa tries to score against VfB Stuttgart's Sven Ulreich, right, during their Bundesliga match in Dortmund. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/Reuters

Borussia Dortmund staged a late comeback from two goals down to draw 2-2 with troubled VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday as they continued their stuttering start to the Bundesliga season.

The visitors, who had sacked sports chief Fredi Bobic hours earlier, looked to be cruising to their first win of the campaign when Daniel Didavi struck twice early in the second half for a two-goal cushion.

But goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 73rd and Ciro Immobile in the 86th minute helped avoid what would have been Dortmund's third loss in five games.

Dortmund, who were missing their entire first choice midfield through injury, are on seven points, four behind leaders Bayern Munich, who beat Paderborn 4-0 on Tuesday. Stuttgart moved off the bottom spot and into 17th place after scoring for the first time this season

Hit by a string of injury absences, Dortmund lacked any attacking edge for most of the game and had also Stuttgart keeper Sven Ulreich to thank for completely misjudging a cross that led to their equaliser.

The hosts did have the first real chance with Shinji Kagawa chipping the ball onto the cross bar in the 33rd minute.

The 24-year-old Didavi, however, punished Dortmund's sluggish defending when he was left unmarked in the box to slot in three minutes after the restart.

The midfielder then doubled their lead when Marcel Schmelzer's clearance landed at Timo Werner, who found Didavi for an easy tap in.

Klopp, who became the longest serving Dortmund coach with his 209th Bundesliga game on their bench, saw his team spark to life after the second goal and Aubameyang cut the deficit with a darting run.

Dortmund captain Mats Hummels came on as a late substitute for his season debut but again it was Stuttgart who came close with Vedad Ibisevic firing over the bar with keeper Roman Weidenfeller beaten.

But when Ulreich failed to save Schmelzer cross, Italian Immobile was on hand to score.

Bayer Leverkusen bounced back from last week's 4-1 loss to VfL Wolfsburg to edge past Augsburg 1-0 and move up to second place on ten points.

Despite an eight-minute interruption due to a lightning storm, Leverkusen won their first match after two defeats in the league and the Champions League courtesy of Son Heung-min's first half goal.

Hanover 96 joined them after they beat promoted Cologne 1-0, who conceded their first goal of the campaign, while Hamburg SV made it five games without a goal when they lost 1-0 at Borussia Moenchengladbach to drop to last place.

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