Milan, Oct 29 (AP/UNB) — Last season Napoli pushed Juventus all the way in the Italian league before ultimately finishing second as the Bianconeri clinched a record-extending seventh Serie A title.
This campaign, second-place Napoli is already six points behind Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Juventus.
But the destination of the title is far from a foregone conclusion.
Juventus proved it is not infallible when it dropped its first points of the season against Genoa last week. It also appeared lethargic in the first half at relegation-threatened Empoli on Saturday before rallying to win 2-1 — with two goals from Ronaldo.
And the Bianconeri are arguably becoming too reliant on the Portugal superstar to rescue them when things aren't going their way.
The 33-year-old Ronaldo has scored Juve's past four league goals as he shows little sign of being affected by a rape allegation in the United States.
Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada last month claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo denies any wrongdoing.
Ronaldo's two goals at Empoli — one a penalty and the other a 20-yard strike — maintained Juve's unbeaten start to the season.
Napoli dropped vital points on Saturday as it needed a last-minute goal from Dries Mertens to snatch a 1-1 draw against Roma.
However, coach Carlo Ancelotti believes his Napoli team is showing increasing signs of maturity.
"I'm happy and proud," Ancelotti said. "We had a constant pressure despite conceding early, we created so many opportunities."
Just a few months after he thought he might have to quit football, Josip Ilicic is back to his best.
Ilicic netted a hat trick in his first start of the season for Atalanta last week and did everything but score in his team's 3-0 victory over Parma on Saturday.
The 30-year-old Ilicic spent most of the summer in and out of hospital with a bacterial infection.
"As a man, the illness changed me a great deal," Ilicic said. "I want to thank everyone who stood by me during this difficult time. I look at the world differently now. I thought many times that I might have to give up football."
SERIE B CHAOS
A stay of execution has again upended a verdict in the lengthy saga over deciding which clubs belong in Serie B .
On Wednesday, a regional appeals court overturned an Italian football federation decision from August that had reduced Serie B from 22 to 19 clubs.
The earlier decision by the federation's emergency commissioner Roberto Fabbricini was made following the bankruptcies of Avellino, Bari and Cesena.
Virtus Entella, Novara, Pro Vercelli and Ternana — the four clubs relegated at the end of last season — plus Catania and Siena, which lost in the Serie C playoffs, are all arguing for a place in the second division.
However, on Saturday an appeal by the Serie B league temporarily overturned the decision from the regional appeals court.
A final decision could be made at an Italian football federation board meeting on Tuesday.
Barcelona, Oct 28 (AP/UNB) — Luis Suarez scored a hat trick to lead Barcelona to a 5-1 rout of Real Madrid in the Spanish league on Sunday, putting the future of Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui in serious jeopardy.
With the injured Lionel Messi watching from the Camp Nou stands, Suarez doubled Barcelona's lead from the penalty spot in the 30th minute after Philippe Coutinho had opened the scoring for the hosts.
Marcelo pulled one back for Madrid early in the second half, but Suarez scored twice to ensure the win — and the league lead for Barcelona — before substitute Arturo Vidal completed the demolition.
"We are very proud to have the best player in the world (Messi) on our team," Suarez said, "(but) we showed that we are a great team and that we have a great coach."
It was Barcelona's biggest victory against Madrid since a 4-0 win at Madrid in 2015 and 5-0 at home in 2010.
The win lifted Barcelona back to the top of the Spanish league with 21 points, while Madrid was left languishing in ninth place with 14 points.
Madrid has now gone five rounds without a win, including four losses, in its first season under Lopetegui.
Despite having as many defeats as wins this season, Lopetegui said that he still believed he could turn Madrid's season around.
"We all know how football works and the one who is ultimately responsible is the coach, but there is more to it and we all win and lose together," Lopetegui said. "I think that it is early in the season and even though today is a sad day Madrid can have a good year. I still have strength to lead the group."
The match was the first "clasico" since 2007 to be played without both Messi and former Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Barcelona was playing its second game since Messi broke his right arm last weekend in a win over Sevilla.
But other than the first 30 minutes of the second half, Barcelona dominated its fierce rival — and European champion — even without its best player.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde stuck with the same starting 11 that beat Inter Milan 2-0 in the Champions League midweek, with Rafinha taking Messi's place.
Lopetegui's only hole to fill in his first-choice 11 was to play Nacho Fernandez at right back in place of the injured Dani Carvajal.
Jordi Alba was a pest to Madrid from the start. A long ball from Ivan Rakitic into Fernandez's area of coverage left Alba alone after fine control to romp into the area and pick out Coutinho arriving in a second wave. The Brazil midfielder did his part by providing a cool finish with his left foot to beat goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the 11th.
While Madrid could only muster timid long shots by Gareth Bale and Marcelo, Barcelona went close with a strike by Arthur that Courtois did well to palm away.
Barcelona earned a second goal with help from a video replay after Raphael Varane barged into Suarez at the edge of the six-yard box.
The referee awarded the spot kick after consulting the video monitor on the sideline, allowing Suarez to step up and perfectly execute the strike by driving a low shot between the post and the outstretched Courtois.
Madrid was fortunate to go into halftime not behind by another goal after Barcelona squandered two promising opportunities on counterattacks only to stumble on the decisive pass.
The match briefly swung the visitors' way after the restart.
Lopetegui substituted Varane with Lucas Vazquez at halftime, and the forward played a role in Marcelo's goal by combining with Isco before his pass was deflected for Marcelo to finish off in the 51st.
Madrid pressed for the equalizer that Luka Modric almost claimed when he was unmarked to hit the post.
Valverde sent on defender Nelson Semedo and shifted Sergi Roberto into attack.
Suarez soon volleyed a headed pass from Roberto off the upright. He then linked up again with Roberto twice more to turn what was appearing to be a evenly fought contest into an easy win.
The Uruguay striker used a powerful turn of his neck to fire a header home from Roberto's pass in the 75th. He then completed his treble in the 83rd by chipping Courtois after Roberto stole the ball from Sergio Ramos.
Vidal headed in a fifth goal with Madrid in disarray.
Dhaka, Oct 28 (UNB) – Touring Bangladesh displayed a brilliant performance in their last Group D match of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Qualifiers upsetting hosts Tajikistan by 5-1 goals in the last group affairs at Hisor Central Stadium in Dushanbe in Tajikistan on Sunday.
Bangladesh, which have already been eliminated from the four-team Group D after suffering two consecutive defeats against Asian giant South Korea by 0-7 goals and Chinese Taipei by 0-2 goals, completed their assignment with an impressive note shocking the hosts.
Bangladesh’s encounter against Tajikistan was nothing but a dead rubber as only six group champions and two best runners-up will play in the next round of the meet.
Mishrat Jahan Mousumil-led the Bangladesh team, mostly consisting of the players of SAFF U-18 Champions Bangladesh team that played in Bhutan, finished 3rd in the four-team group securing three points from as many matches forcing hosts and all losers Tajikistan to the bottom.
Favourite South Korea emerged unbeaten champions of Group D securing full nine points from straight three matches to reach the 2nd round of the meet beating group runners-up Chinese Taipei (six points) by 4-0 goals in the last match at the same venue on Sunday.
Sherpur, Oct 28 (UNB) – Kakoli Sporting Club defeated Kusumkoli Sporting Club by 2-0 goals in the Saif Power Battery Sherpur District Football League at Shaheed Daroga Ali Municipality Park ground on Sunday.
Attacking midfielder Galif Mia scored both goals for Kakoli SC’s winning start in the 12-team league.
Kakoli SC played attacking game from the beginning, but Kusumkoli SC’s goalie denied some attempts before Galif Mia’s success for twice.
Kusumkoli SC created some chances, but all their efforts went in vain for the lack of clean finishers.
Dhaka, Oct 28 (UNB) – Holders Dhaka Abahani Limited and formidable Saif Sporting Club won their respective group matches of the season’s curtain raiser soccer meet, the Walton Federation Cup Football Tournament, at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Sunday.
Defending champions Dhaka Limited made a good start in the season’s curtain raiser soccer meet beating Muktijoddha Sangsad KC by 1-0 goal in opening Group C match Sunday afternoon.
Former national skipper Mamunul Islam Mamun scored the match-winner for the sky-blue popular Dhanmondi outfit in the 54th minute by a placing shot from danger zone that kissed the freedom fighter net, hitting the side bar (1-0)
Mamun, who got the opportunity to make match-winner utilizing a Belfast shot pass that came his way by a header of Sunday. Later, the national coloured medio Mamunul Islam was adjudged the smart player of the match.
In the day’s 2ndmatch, Saif Sporting Club beat Team BJMC by 3-1 goals at the same venue under flood light.
Korea striker SeungilPark put Saif SC ahead in the very 5th minute from a penalty (1-0) while Abdullah Al Mamunof Team BJMC leveled the margin in the 13th minute by eye-catching header from goal mouth melee (1-1).
Substitute striker Jafar Iqbal scored the 2nd goal for Saif SC in the 66th minute by a cool shot from goalmouth melee (2-1) while Denis Blshakov sealed the fate of the match in the 88th minute, also from another penalty (3-1).
Monday’s matches: Mohammedan SC vs Bashundhara Kings (3;15 pm), Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club vs NoFel Sporting Club (5:15 pm).