Serie A: Juve comeback to win, Roma hold Napoli

David Cooper 14/12/2015
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Fantastic finish: Mandzukic.

Juventus came from behind to beat Fiorentina 3-1 in Turin on Sunday night, as Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala both scored in the final 10 minutes.

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Title challenging Fiorentina lost ground to Serie A leaders Inter in the defeat despite going ahead within the opening three minutes.

Josep Ilicic had La Viola in front early on in the encounter, converting a spot-kick from 12-yards after Federico Bernardeschi was brought down in the box by Juve defender Giorgio Chiellini. But Massimiliano Allegri’s men hit back immediately, as former Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado headed in at the back post after meeting Patrice Evra’s deep left-wing cross.

With 80 minutes on the clock Mario Mandzukic won the game, crashing in a loose ball following Paulo Dybala’s rebounded effort, before the former Palermo forward sealed a vital victory in the dying minute.

Elsewhere on Sunday night, Wojciech Szczesny excelled in the Roma goal as title hopefuls Napoli were held to a 0-0 draw at the Stadio San Paolo.

Fourth-placed Roma looked more likely to score in the first half but Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli turned the screw after the break, with only on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny standing between them and a seventh straight home win.

The Giallorossi might complain that Daniele De Rossi had a late goal ruled out due to a debatable line call, but in reality taking a point from their top four rivals represents a timely upturn in league form after a severe slump.

Misfiring AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by basement boys Hellas Verona at San Siro. Sinisa Mihajlovic has watched his Rossoneri drop points to the likes of Atalanta and Carpi in recent weeks and the club’s mission to return to the Champions League places is looking increasingly frangible.

The seventh-placed side took the lead through Carlos Bacca shortly after half-time, but paid a heavy price for Nigel de Jong’s decision to commit a professional foul.

The midfielder was sent off and Luca Toni levelled from the spot. Verona, meanwhile, remain winless this season yet show clear signs of improvement under new boss Luigi Delneri.

Finally, Massimo Maccarone scored twice and set up a third goal as upwardly-mobile Empoli brushed struggling Carpi aside 3-0 at the Stadio Carlo Castellani.

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Joe Hart claims Manchester City can now compete with Europe’s elite

Alam Khan 13/12/2015
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Bring on the big guns: Joe Hart has played in 33 of City’s 34 UCL matches.

Joe Hart says he is driven to shine on the game’s biggest stages and help fulfil the ambition of Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners.

And it is why the England keeper says his side must fear no one in today’s Champions League last-16 draw.

Having seen his national team land Wales, Russia and Slovakia in next year’s European Championships, Hart is similarly excited about who City, currently leading the Premier League and in the League Cup semi-finals, will face next in their bid to become kings of club football.

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Topping a difficult group containing last year’s beaten finalists Juventus, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach, has heightened expectation and increased belief at the club.

Hart said: “We’ve done all we can to get ourselves a good draw. We’re in a good place. The hope is that we can get a run going and stay in all four competitions for as long as we can. It’d be great for this squad.

“I just want to do well, I just want to perform at all levels. I’m 28 now and I’ve plenty of experience 
behind me. I don’t want to settle for what I’ve done. I want to kick on, keep improving, keep playing well for all the teams I play for.

“I want to be playing every game. I want to make it difficult for the manager to leave me out of any game. Willy Caballero does fantastic around this place and with England we have some good keepers. It’s tough to stay as the number one, but I enjoy it.”

Given the fact City have drawn Barcelona twice on their only previous last-16 appearances, it would be no surprise if they were paired with French champions Paris Saint-Germain, arguably the toughest opponents among the group runners-up.

“Probably,” smiled Hart. “But, if so, we’d have to feel we can beat them. There’s no point using excuses, saying we got beat by Barcelona or Bayern Munich. 

“If we want to win the cup, which this owner does and we, as players, want to, then we have to beat those kind of teams. We have to have no fear. Sevilla away was a big performance from us, that’s the type of performance we need to be producing more of.

“I thought we were fantastic in the second half against ‘Gladbach last week. We have to take the positives, but let’s not forget we’ve had some bad performances too and we don’t want more of them.”

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Euro 2016 draw: England to clash with Wales, Germany face Poland

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The Euro 2016 draw on Saturday pitted England against Wales and Germany against Poland in two spotlight groups at the championships.

The British nations who have never met at an international tournament will clash in Group B — playing each other at Lens on June 16.

The group also features Russia and Slovakia. World Cup winners Germany head Group C and will have to take on Poland, Northern Ireland and Ukraine. Defending champions Spain will have to take on Czech Republic, Turkey and Croatia in Group D.

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Group E could be the most difficult to get one of the top two places however with Belgium and Italy taking on Republic of Ireland and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will take on Iceland, Austria and Hungary in Group F.

Hosts France play the tournament’s curtain raiser on June 10 against Group A opponents Romania. They will also have to face Albania and Switzerland.

The final is on July 10 at the Stade de France in Paris.

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