D’Ambrosio saves Inter, AC Milan crashes in Serie A

Inter Milan’s Danilo D’Ambrosio, right, celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Genoa at Milan’s San SIro Stadium Sunday. (AP)
Updated 25 September 2017
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D’Ambrosio saves Inter, AC Milan crashes in Serie A

MILAN: Danilo D’Ambrosio scored the only goal as Inter Milan left it late to squeeze past Genoa 1-0 in Serie A action Sunday and keep in touch with the leaders, as AC Milan fell 2-0 at Sampdoria.
D’Ambrosio headed in off a corner with two minutes to go at the San Siro to earn three points for Luciano Spalletti’s side, who saw their winning run ended on Tuesday with a last-gasp 1-1 draw at Bologna.
Inter stay third, two points behind leaders Juventus and Napoli, who both claimed their sixth wins out of six on Saturday against Torino, 4-0, and SPAL, 3-2, respectively.
“It was a tough match, but we stayed solid,” said Spalletti. “We must create this winning mentality that makes us believe that we can beat anyone.
“There is a gap with Napoli and Juventus, but that’s to be expected, considering where we’re coming from. It’s tough to recreate a winning mentality after a poor campaign. There is always that fear of reality setting in.
“Napoli and Juventus have that mentality, so do Roma and Lazio. We also mustn’t underestimate Sampdoria and Torino, who are two strong sides.”
Ciro Immobile scored a double including one from the spot to bring his tally to eight for the Serie A season, as injury-hit Lazio stayed fourth with a comfortable 3-0 win at Verona.
Immobile converted a penalty after 24 minutes, scored from the edge of the box before the break and then teed up Adam Marusic for his first Serie A goal on 60 minutes.
Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi was delighted that his side knew how to respond positively to their 4-1 defeat midweek to Napoli.
“On Wednesday we had a setback that we didn’t foresee, even though we were playing Napoli,” said Inzaghi.
“One goal would have allowed Verona back into it at home, but we never risked it.
“There are no more adjectives for him (Immobile). He gives a lot and (Italy coach Giampiero) Ventura will definitely be counting on him.”
City rivals Roma — who have a game in hand — are fifth, after easing past Udinese 3-1 on Saturday.
Duvan Zapata and Ricky Alvarez scored as Sampdoria condemned big-spending AC Milan to their second defeat of the campaign.
Zapata broke through after a terrible clearance by his cousin and fellow Colombia international Cristian Zapata on 72 minutes with substitute Alvarez getting the second just before the final whistle.
Chinese-owned Milan again showed their difficulty against teams in the top half of the table as they remained sixth after six games with Sampdoria, who have a game in hand, moving seventh just a point behind.
“We deserved this victory, we fought to the end and must build on this performance,” said Zapata.
Milan had problems defensively with Cristian Zapata having a forgettable afternoon and Leonardo Bonucci and Alessio Romagnoli performing little better.
Sampdoria dominated from the outset with the visitors having a scare after two minutes when Ivan Strinic’s cross hit Franck Kessie on the arm and the referee awarded a penalty.
However, the decision was overturned by the video assistant referee.
Chievo won at 10-man Cagliari thanks to Roberto Inglese and Mariusz Stepinski’s second half goals as Crotone earned their first win 2-0 over tailenders Benevento.


‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 22 June 2018
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‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.