Monthly Archives: October 2017

Maurizio Sarri wary even as Napoli continues to lead Serie A table

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Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri but insists his first-place side have a long way to go in their pursuit of a first Serie A title since 1989-90.

Last season’s second runners-up, Napoli reinforced their title credentials during the weekend with an easy 3-1 victory over Sassuolo 3-1 to go three points clear at the top of the table.

Allan opened the scoring midway through the first half for Sarri’s side before Diego Falcinelli scored an undeserved equaliser in the 41st minute.

However, the Partenopei had little to worry as they restored their advantage on the stroke of half-time with goalkeeper Andrea Consigli parrying a corner into his own net to concede a goal that was attributed to Jose Callejon, before Dries Mertens ensured a 10th win in 11 league games with a second-half strike.

Maurizio Sarri’s side have now won 10 and drawn one of their opening 11 games in the league this season, but the manager is not getting carried despite his team being clear on points on top of the Italian top flight, insisting it will take them more than 90 points to dethrone champions Juventus, who won it last year for the sixth season running.

“Right now, the forecast is a bit improbable. I don’t think the top teams can continue to keep this pace,” Sarri said. “Many smaller team will get new players or they will find their game.”

“Going forward the games will be different, harder. This pace is destined to slow down, not just for us but for any team looking to win the title. The feeling though is that we will need to have more than 90 points to win the championship.”

Leicester City wins first match with Claude Puel in charge

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Leicester City has secured a 2-0 win against managerless Everton after appointing Claude Puel as boss.

Puel appointed on Wednesday to replace the sacked Craig Shakespeare since his dismissal from Southampton during the summer.

The Foxes displayed an inspiring stride in their play, with Demarai Gray taking center stage as he evaded three challenges and fed Riyad Mahrez, whose cross was finished at the back post by Jamie Vardy.

Gray continued to inspire, and delivered the second through an inswinging cross that looked harmless but was enough to bait Jonjoe Kenny who wildly miskicked, sending the ball spinning backwards, beyond Jordan Pickford and into the far corner of the net.

“I saw a team in Leicester with a good attitude, a good structure and a lot of solidarity,” said the Frenchman, whose team climbed to 11th in the Premier League.

“I was impressed with my players. I hope it’s just the beginning of something. I was impressed because we played very well first half with good relationships between the players and it was a fantastic first goal.”

“It was a little more difficult in the second half because Everton are a very good team and they tried to come back into the game.”

Everton, who were playing under caretaker boss David Unsworth, were largely restricted to long-range efforts. Although they were dominating against the Foxes in the second half, they show a lack of incision of that of a team that has scored only seven league goals this season and are winless in seven games in all competitions.

Their defeat would pile further misery as the Merseyside club slipped to a ninth defeat in 13 matches, leaving them third from bottom and facing up to a relegation scenario that was unthinkable when £150m was spent in the summer.

Bayern Munich leads Bundesliga after Dortmund loses to Hannover

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Bayern Munich has finally climbed to the top of the Bundesliga for the first time this season after a solid 2-0 victory over RB Leipzig and Hannover 96 helping their cause by handing Borussia Dortmund a 4-2 defeat.

Dortmund were reduced to 10 men as their grip on top spot in the Bundesliga weakened further. Jonathas broke the deadlock from the penalty spot and then turned provider for Ihlas Bebou to restore the hosts’ lead after Dan-Axel Zagadou hit back with his first Bundesliga goal.

Andriy Yarmolenko struck a brilliant second equaliser, but Felix Kraus converted the free-kick that was awarded after Zagadou’s dismissal and Bebou wrapped up the points with four minutes remaining.

After taking 19 points from their first seven games, Dortmund’s blistering pace in the German top flight was almost reduced to a standstill after having now lost two and drawn one of their last three fixtures to open the door for a rejuvenated Bayern.

The defending German Champions had needed penalties to defeat Leipzig in Wednesday’s DFB Pokal clash but this time eased to a 2-0 win, with James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski on target.

Also in the midweek Cup clash, Naby Keita saw red and this time it was Will Orban dismissed after just 10 minutes, when he tangled with last man Arjen Robben and earned a red card for his troubles.

10 minutes later, Robben provided an assist to James Rodriguez for Bayern’s first, while Javi was the provider for the second goal in the 38th minute, slicing the away side open with a brilliant pass that deserved the measured finish that Robert Lewandowski provided.

The win allows Bayern to replace Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga, as Leipzig also prowls not far behind the Yellow Wall either — just one point behind.

West Ham rallies from two down to edge Tottenham

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West Ham United produced a scintillating display to rally from two goals down to beat Tottenham by 3-2 and reach the quarter-finals of the League Cup.

Things started in the worst possible way for them at Wembley, with the Hammers conceding after just five minutes as a high defensive line was exploited by Son Heung-min’s pass through to Moussa Sissoko to stroke home for Spurs.

Dele Alli then doubled the lead for Spurs just before half-time through a deflected shot to put West Ham’s London rivals in a comfortable position.

But the interval seemed to be what West Ham needed to rally from their awkward position, with striker Andre Ayew beginning the turnaround by converting after stand-in keeper Michel Vorm parried Edimilson Fernandes’ thunderous drive and the Ghanaian poked home the second following Manuel Lanzini’s cutback.

It was also the Argentine’s whipped corner into the box that was another important contribution which completed the recovery as Angelo Ogbonna rose highest to flick in towards the far post.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, who had been under close scrutiny after a drubbing by Brighton in the Premier League last Friday, lauded his team’s performance.

“To score three goals against them (Tottenham) — who do not concede goals — then be brave and compact and good on the ball, we deserved it and it is a big boost for us,” he said.

“The mood was down at half-time, but not as down as against Brighton. That result was bad but we played good football. We did not penetrate Spurs enough, were not good in the final third and we said things about what we should do when they and ourselves have the ball.”