European roundup: Napoli sink Atalanta to stretch lead at top of Serie A

Sport

Napoli extended their Serie A winning streak to nine games when first-half goals from Victor Osimhen and Eljif Elmas secured a 2-1 comeback victory at second-placed Atalanta, briefly stretching the victors’ lead to eight points until Milan beat Spezia 2-1 in the late match to pull it back to six.

Luciano Spalletti’s men played without their exciting young winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who was out due to acute lower back pain that he felt in training on Friday.

The home side’s Ademola Lookman opened the scoring after 19 minutes with a penalty after handball by Osimhen. Napoli’s 23-year-old Nigerian international made amends four minutes later when he headed home Piotr Zielinski’s cross.

In the 35th, Elmas put the visitors in front after taking a pass from Osimhen inside the box, with his effort flying into the net via a slight deflection off Atalanta’s Hans Hateboer.

The hosts started the second half aggressively, chasing an equaliser. Joakim Mæhle’s shot after 55 minutes was saved superbly by Alex Meret and Lookman hit the rebound against the bar, but that was as close as Atalanta came.

Theo Hernandez scored a brilliant opener for Milan against Spezia on 21 minutes but Daniel Maldini lashed home the equaliser from just outside the box on 59 minutes. Olivier Giroud then scored a superb flying volley to win it for Milan in the 89th minute before receiving a second yellow card for removing his shirt during the celebrations.

A late goal by striker Olivier Giroud helped the defending champions Milan earn a home 2-1 win over Spezia and move up to second.

Theo Hernández put Milan ahead in the 21st minute when he converted a stunning cross by Ismaël Bennacer, sending it inside the near post. Spezia drew level just before the hour mark through the forward Daniel Maldini who fired home a curled shot from the corner of the box. Giroud got the winner, with a superb first-time shot from a tight angle, but moments later the French forward collected a second yellow card for taking off his shirt.

Earlier on Saturday, Empoli beat Sassuolo 1-0 at home thanks to a 64th-minute goal from Tommaso Baldanzi. Salernitana and Cremonese drew 2-2, with Cremonese’s second equaliser coming in the 89th minute from Daniel Ciofani. The veteran striker had a penalty saved by Luigi Sepe but managed to stab home the rebound.

Barcelona defeated Almería 2-0 in Gerard Piqué’s final appearance at the Camp Nou. The defender made an emotional farewell after announcing his retirement.

After missing several chances in the first half, including a penalty for a handball that Robert Lewandowski put wide, Ousmane Dembélé broke the deadlock right after the break, slotting a precise shot into the bottom corner from a counterattack. In the 62nd minute, Frenkie de Jong was well positioned inside the area to score off a rebound from the goalkeeper. The win took Barcelona top of the league with Real Madrid not playing until Monday at Rayo Vallecano.

The 35-year-old Piqué started the game as captain for Barça, having won 30 trophies, including three Champions League and eight La Liga titles. He was substituted in the 83rd minute, walking off the pitch in tears to a standing ovation from the 92,605 fans that packed the stadium to say goodbye to a club great.

Speaking on the pitch after the game, Piqué said: “I was born here and I will die here.

“When you get older, you realise that sometimes to love is to let go. I’m convinced that I’ll be here again in the future.

“I love Barça. That’s why I consider it’s the right moment to go. This is not a goodbye.”

Bayern Munich’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored twice in two minutes to lead the champions to a nervy 3-2 victory at Hertha Berlin as they went top in the Bundesliga, with the previous leaders, Union Berlin, playing at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday. The 33-year-old Cameroon forward is in scintillating form less than three weeks before the World Cup, having netted for the seventh consecutive game in all competitions and the fourth straight game in the league.

Jamal Musiala gave the visitors an early lead, rifling in after 12 minutes. In a frenzied end to the first half Choupo-Moting slotted in their second goal in the 38th minute before pouncing on a bad clearance to knock in another a minute later to make it 3-0.

But Hertha, whose fans unfurled a banner reading “Boycott Qatar 2022” over the Gulf state’s human rights record, pulled two back before the break. Dodi Lukebakio volleyed in at the far post in the 40th minute and Davie Selke converted a 45th-minute penalty. The pace of the game dropped off after the break and Bayern did enough to see out a slim victory.

The World Cup hopeful Youssoufa Moukoko scored twice as Borussia Dortmund cruised past local rivals VfL Bochum 3-0 to take over third spot. The 17-year-old Moukoko could not have delivered a better pitch ahead of Germany coach Hansi Flick’s squad announcement next week, confirming his outstanding form when he hammered in off the bar from just outside the box to give Dortmund the lead in the eighth minute.

Moukoko, who became the youngest player to reach 10 career goals in the Bundesliga, added another on the stroke of half-time, after Gio Reyna had made it 2-0 from the penalty spot. He audaciously lobbed the ball over the out-of-position goalkeeper Manuel Riemann for his sixth league goal of the season.

There was more good news for Dortmund early in the second half when their captain Marco Reus made his comeback from injury, just in time for the World Cup squad announcement. Borussia Dortmund fans had a banner showing German television’s test card and the message: “Switch off Qatar”.