Nicolo Fagioli marked his first Serie A start with a crucial goal as Juventus clinched a 2-0 win over Derby d'Italia rivals Inter in Turin, leapfrogging the Nerazzurri in the Serie A table.

Juventus and Inter entered Sunday's match 13 and 11 points adrift of the Serie A summit respectively, but the Nerazzurri began with more urgency and missed several clear chances before half-time.

However, Allegri's hosts improved after Adrien Rabiot's side-footed finish put them ahead against the run of play, and 21-year-old midfielder Fagioli made the points safe with a late deflected effort. 

The result lifted Juventus above Inter into Serie A's top five, leaving Simone Inzaghi's men – runners-up last term – languishing in seventh place.

Lautaro Martinez hammered a left-footed volley wide as Inter started well, before Bremer hit the side-netting when Juventus created a rare opening at the other end.

Edin Dzeko headed wide of the top-left corner as the home crowd began to grow frustrated, and Denzel Dumfries should have put Inter ahead when firing over from six yards out as half-time approached.

Inter again went close again when Hakan Calhanoglu forced Wojciech Szczesny into an acrobatic save from range, but Juventus punished their profligacy as Rabiot turned Filip Kostic's cut-back into the bottom-right corner after 52 minutes.

That goal lifted Juventus, who were denied a second goal when a VAR review spotted a handball by Danilo following his volleyed finish, before Szczesny denied Martinez with his legs.

The Bianconeri went close to doubling their lead through Kostic, who saw his shot turned onto the post by Andre Onana, but the Serbian turned provider once more as Juventus wrapped up the win, teeing up Fagioli for his dream goal.

Bayer Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso has hailed his side for an "important" victory against Union Berlin on Sunday, after smashing five past Union Berlin.

The Spaniard's side faced a tough test against Union at BayArena, with the visitors knowing a victory would see them reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga ahead of Bayern Munich.

After a goalless first half, Robert Andrich broke the deadlock a minute after the restart to spark a frantic second period, with a brace from Moussa Diaby followed by efforts from Adam Hlozek and Mitchel Bakker.

The win was the joint-highest win for a Bundesliga side against a league leader this millennium, equalling the score achieved by Bayern against Borussia Dortmund in April 2019.

Crucially for the hosts, it also brought an end to a six-match winless streak across all competitions and marked only the third league win for Leverkusen this season, leading Alonso to praise his side's performance.

"The first half was very close, neither side had many chances and it wasn't easy to attack. Union are standing so high in the table for a reason," he said in the post-match press conference.

"In the second half we wanted to stay focused. We had more spaces, our fast players could run deep and were very good at finishing. We are very happy today.

"Today was important. We want to continue in the same way. We always need that mentality to attack and score goals, to stay hungry.

"The 2-0 made the big difference. We defended going forward, the pressure from Jeremie Frimpong was good. That's the mentality we want to have."

Alonso's side now have two Bundesliga matches against Koln and Stuttgart before the World Cup in Qatar, with the league campaign set to resume on January 22.

Alphonso Davies will be fit to represent Canada at the World Cup despite sustaining a hamstring strain in Bayern Munich's win at Hertha Berlin, the Bundesliga giants have confirmed.

Davies was forced off in the 64th minute of Bayern's 3-2 victory at the Olympiastadion on Saturday, sparking fears he could miss Canada's first World Cup appearance since 1986.

The left-back was seen clutching his right hamstring as he walked gingerly from the field, and head coach Julian Nagelsmann initially did little to ease fears over his condition.

Speaking after Bayern's win, Nagelsmann revealed Davies was suspected to have suffered "at least one fibre tear" and said a more accurate diagnosis would be available on Sunday.

However, Bayern have now revealed Davies should return for Canada's trip to Qatar, though he will miss his club's upcoming Bundesliga games against Werder Bremen and Schalke.

A statement on Bayern's website read: "FC Bayern will be without Alphonso Davies for the two remaining Bundesliga games prior to the winter break. 

"The 22-year-old full-back suffered a hamstring strain in the 3-2 win at Hertha BSC on Saturday. The diagnosis was confirmed by the German record champions' medical unit. 

"The Canada international's participation in the World Cup in Qatar is not at risk."

Canada will face Belgium in their Group F opener on November 23 before taking on Croatia and Morocco.

Diego Simeone seemed optimistic despite seeing his Atletico Madrid team fail to beat Espanyol at the Metropolitano, even with a man advantage.

The visitors had Leandro Cabrera sent off after 28 minutes on Sunday after he fouled Alvaro Morata to deny him getting in on goal, leaving Atletico with more than an hour with an extra player.

However, it was Espanyol who took the lead just after the hour through Sergi Darder's volley, before substitute Joao Felix fired in a leveller with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Simeone expressed his gratitude for the love he has received at the club since taking over as head coach in 2011, with some believing him to be under pressure after finishing bottom of their Champions League group and falling 10 points behind the top of LaLiga.

"I came to Atletico young and the first season was very bad and [the fans] always loved me without having given them absolutely anything," he said. "Then we won the Copa del Rey (2012-13) and the league (2013-14). 

"I was lucky enough to come back as a player and a coach. I am grateful to Atletico Madrid for life, the love I feel is not going to upset me in the current circumstances."

 

Atletico attempted 27 shots in the game, their highest tally in all competitions since February 2021 against Levante (28).

They hit the target just seven times though, and also found Espanyol goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte in fine form.

"We had chances," Simeone added. "They scored, and after scoring the desire to generate danger and intensity went up one more step. If one has forcefulness, the mental part grows. When you see that you have 27 shots and you don't win... We tend to have more precision, hopefully we can adjust that."

Despite exiting Europe and having not won any of their last four games in all competitions, Simeone looked on the bright side.

"After [losing to] Porto [in midweek], the Champions League and Europe are closed and a new tournament begins in LaLiga, where we are not doing badly.

"We have to be confident in what we do and hope this doesn't break. At least we didn't lose, we could have won it, and a draw keeps us in the top four."

A UEFA working group made up of 10 European nations has stressed the need to "support human rights" at the Qatar World Cup.

The decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar has been widely criticised due to concerns over the country's human rights record, with the conditions of migrant workers and the criminalisation of homosexuality being highlighted.

Amnesty International later accused FIFA of brushing these concerns "under the carpet" after president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura called on participating nations to "focus on the football" at the World Cup.

In a statement released on Sunday, the working group acknowledged what it perceives to be "significant progress" made by Qatar, though also insisted human rights issues cannot be ignored.

"We acknowledge, and welcome, as we have done in the past, that significant progress has been made by Qatar, particularly with regards to the rights of migrant workers, with the impact of legislative changes demonstrated in the International Labour Organisation's recent reports," the statement read.

"We welcome the assurances given by the Qatari Government and by FIFA regarding the safety, security and inclusion of all fans who travel to the World Cup, including LGBTQ+ fans.

"We also recognise that every country has issues and challenges and we agree with FIFA that diversity is a strength.

"However, embracing diversity and tolerance also means supporting human rights. Human rights are universal and they apply everywhere."

The group, made up of the football associations of England, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal and Belgium, also detailed the talks it has had with FIFA on the matters.

"We will continue to support the momentum for positive, progressive change and continue to advocate for a conclusive outcome and update on the two key outstanding issues we have been discussing with FIFA for a long time," the statement continued.

"FIFA has repeatedly committed to deliver concrete answers on these issues - the compensation fund for migrant workers, and the concept of a migrant workers centre to be created in Doha - and we will continue to press for these to be delivered.

"We believe in the power of football to make further positive and credible contributions to progressive sustainable change in the world."

The tournament gets underway on November 20 when the hosts take on Ecuador.

Karim Benzema is "struggling" and has been ruled out of Real Madrid's trip to Rayo Vallecano on Monday, which could prove a worrying sign for France ahead of the World Cup.

The Ballon d'Or winner returned from a short lay-off to feature as a substitute in Madrid's 5-1 Champions League win against Celtic on Wednesday, but he is now back on the sidelines.

Benzema has been troubled by muscular fatigue in his left quadriceps and the 34-year-old remains not quite at ease, although Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti expects him to be available for their home game against Cadiz on Thursday.

Benzema joins defender Antonio Rudiger in missing Monday's game, as Madrid seek a win that would take them back above Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.

Looking ahead to the trip to Vallecano, Ancelotti said on Sunday: "Karim won't play because he's not feeling right.

"It looked as though he was okay, but he's struggling a bit and he won't be available tomorrow. Against Cadiz I don't think Rudiger will be back, but Karim should be."

Benzema has started just 11 games across all competitions this season, scoring six goals. He managed 44 goals in 46 games last term, enough to win the highly prized Ballon d'Or award, marking him out as the top performer in world football over the 2021-22 campaign.

"Karim's lack of game-time has meant we have got to see other players with real quality, like [Federico] Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius [Junior]," said Ancelotti.

"We've coped well with Karim being out thanks to the quality of the other lads. When we come back after the World Cup, we'll need Karim for the second part of the season."

The Italian then sang the praises of Rodrygo, the 21-year-old Brazilian who has seven goals this season, saying he considers the youngster "more as a centre-forward than a wide man".

Ancelotti was also asked about comparisons between Rodrygo and Brazil great Ronaldo, but says the 21-year-old benefits from the quality around him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Ronaldo wasn't as fortunate as Rodrygo," Ancelotti said. "Back then, Real Madrid weren't as strong as they are now in the Champions League. 

"Rodrygo can make the most of that. If he reaches Ronaldo's levels on an individual basis, we'll be building a statue to him."

Kylian Mbappe suffered from muscle fatigue in Paris Saint-Germain's win at Lorient, says Christophe Galtier, who has eased fears over the attacker's fitness ahead of the World Cup.

Danilo Pereira's late header sent PSG five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 on Sunday, after in-form Terem Moffi had cancelled out Neymar's opener at the Stade du Moustoir.

However, Mbappe attracted attention by heading straight down the tunnel following his 85th-minute withdrawal.

France will already be without Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante for their World Cup defence, while Karim Benzema has missed several of Real Madrid's fixtures during an injury-hit season, including the upcoming meeting with Rayo Vallecano.

Galtier, however, quashed concerns over Mbappe's condition after the win, telling Amazon Prime Video: "[It's] nothing serious. We saw the news about Karim, but nothing serious for Kylian. 

"Kylian made an effort. It's much better to ask to go off than to take the risk of staying on the pitch, or being on the pitch and being totally absent."

In his post-match press conference, Galtier revealed Mbappe had been suffering from fatigue as a result of PSG's congested schedule. 

"There is no alert in a specific area, it's fatigue linked to the sequence of matches," Galtier said. "The playing conditions were difficult. 

"He also came out tired after Juventus on Wednesday. It's a very busy schedule, with a certain apprehension. Everyone is listening to their body in this pre-World Cup period. There can be a fear."

With PSG failing to meet their usual standards in their penultimate game before the World Cup break, Galtier believes the spectre of the tournament caused his side to play with "restraint".

"Automatically, the World Cup is in the minds of the players. It's hard for them to manage. There is always information that can make them doubt," Galtier said.

"You have the feeling of playing at 100 per cent, but today I saw a certain restraint, linked to fatigue, plus the announcement of the squads in a few days. 

"We did a little less, we were a little fearful in duels, but fatigue also made it difficult in the second half."

PSG were without Lionel Messi against Lorient, though he is expected to return before the World Cup break.

Unai Emery marked his return to English football in style as Aston Villa beat Manchester United 3-1 at Villa Park in the Premier League on Sunday.

The hosts needed just seven minutes to take the lead, Leon Bailey firing home, with Lucas Digne then dispatching a free-kick shortly after to leave Villa in control.

United pulled one back in the first half, Jacob Ramsey directing Luke Shaw's effort from distance into his own net, but he then scored at the right end shortly after the restart.

Erik ten Hag's side could not find a response, with Villa's defence never truly tested on what was another frustrating day for United.

Emery's return to the Premier League began in ideal fashion, Ramsey feeding a pass through to Bailey who showed his pace to find space away from Lisandro Martinez before sending his shot into the bottom-right corner.

The home side doubled their lead four minutes later as Lucas Digne expertly converted a free-kick from just outside the area to leave David de Gea with no chance and send Villa Park into pandemonium.

United reduced the deficit before the interval, Shaw letting loose from distance and the strike taking a wicked deflection off Ramsey.

Villa restored their two-goal lead three minutes into the second half, Ollie Watkins driving forward and laying off a pass to Ramsey, who arrived inside the box to fire a fierce effort into the roof of the net.

United failed to threaten a revival and suffered their fourth defeat of the season and first since the start of October.

Joao Felix came off the bench to rescue a point for Atletico Madrid against 10-man Espanyol as they drew 1-1 at the Metropolitano on Sunday.

The game had started with some jeers from the crowd after Atletico finished bottom of their Champions League group in midweek, and the mood did not improve as the Rojiblancos struggled to break down their visitors.

It looked to be set up nicely for the hosts when Leandro Cabrera was sent off in the first half, but despite having an extra man, Atletico contrived to fall behind after Sergi Darder's volley just after the hour mark.

Joao Felix arrived to bring the scores level with just over 10 minutes remaining, but a draw will still be a disappointing result for home coach Diego Simeone in the circumstances.

Espanyol lost a man in the 28th minute when Cabrera saw red after being judged to have brought down Alvaro Morata when trying to prevent the Spain striker from racing through on goal.

Marcos Llorente went close shortly after when he got on the end of a cross from the left by Reinildo but sent his first-time effort over the crossbar.

It was Espanyol who took the lead against the run of play in the 62nd minute, with Oscar Gil's cross from the right headed back across goal by Joselu for the unmarked Darder to volley past Jan Oblak.

In the 78th minute, Felix chested down a ball out to the left by fellow substitute Thomas Lemar before dashing towards goal and rifling a left-footed shot inside Benjamin Lecomte's near post, though Atleti were unable to find a winner.

Paris Saint-Germain moved five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 as Danilo Pereira's late header gave the champions a 2-1 win over Lorient.

Neymar continued his stellar campaign with the opening goal inside nine minutes, but PSG were unable to extend their lead at the Stade du Moustoir.

Lorient's equalised eight minutes into the second half, with Terem Moffi firing home his ninth goal of the league campaign and then promptly hitting the bar.

It seemed that would be the closest either side came to a decisive second until Danilo rose highest from an 81st-minute Neymar corner to nod the winner.

Los Angeles FC's MLS Cup hero Gareth Bale admitted it has been "mentally difficult" to maintain focus ahead of the World Cup.

The tournament starts in Qatar on November 20, with Bale set to lead Wales out in only their second appearance at the tournament.

Bale left Real Madrid to join LAFC on a free transfer midway through the 2022 MLS season in July, though has managed just two starts for the team, accumulating only 370 minutes on the pitch.

The 33-year-old was LAFC's hero on Saturday, however, as he came on from the bench to score an extra-time equaliser to make it 3-3 in the MLS Cup against Philadelphia Union and, despite Steve Cherundolo's side having had goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau sent off, they went on to win on penalties.

Bale's full attention can now turn to being fit to feature for Wales in their first World Cup match – coincidentally against the United States – on November 21, with England and Iran also in their group, though the former Tottenham and Madrid star acknowledged it has been tough to shirk off fitness concerns prior to the tournament.

"I'm feeling better and better as time goes on. I've had a few setbacks, a slight knock a few weeks ago that kept me out for 10 days," Bale said in a press conference.

"It's been difficult mentally, leading into the World Cup – you see so many players dropping out, missing the World Cup.

"So it has been difficult mentally, I'm sure it has been for a lot of players, leading into this World Cup, so for sure it's been in the back of my mind trying to make sure I'm a 100 per cent fit.

"I felt good enough to come on and help the team, and happy to see us lift the trophy."

Asked if he was fully fit, Bale said: "I'm not 100 per cent at the moment, still coming back, have a few little issues like most players do, but we spoke about, that if I was needed for the last 20, 30 minutes, then I'm available.

"I was able to come on and give as much as I can, glad I came up with the goal. That's what I'm here to do, I guess."

Bale's goal against Philadelphia – a brilliant header in the eighth minute of stoppage time at the end of extra-time – was his third for LAFC, though his first since August.

"It's been a difficult transition, trying to catch up, it's been difficult, especially with relocating with my family," Bale added.

"I've tried to stay as fit as I can, to help the team on and off the pitch, it's all worth it when you have moments like today. The most important thing was the target to win the MLS Cup, we've done that."

Milan forward Rafael Leao continues to be linked with a host of top European clubs who are plotting January moves.

Leao won last season's Serie A Footballer of the Year and has maintained his fine form this term.

The 23-year-old forward is contracted with Milan until mid-2024, prompting interest to prise him away from the Rossoneri.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN PREPARING FOR BUMPER JANUARY BIDS FOR RAFAEL LEAO

Milan are preparing for January bids from Chelsea and Manchester City of approximately £105 million for Rafael Leao, reports Tuttomercato.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain have also shown an interest in the Portuguese attacker.

Milan are still working on a new deal with Leao before he departs for the World Cup, hoping to tie him down on a long-term contract.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is considering trying to lure Dusan Vlahovic to Old Trafford as he prepares for life without Cristiano Ronaldo, reports The Sun on Sunday. Juventus forward Vlahovic moved to the Bianconeri from Fiorentina in January for £62million.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has told the club to sign Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans in the January transfer window, claims The Sun. Tielemans is valued at £40m and is out of contract at the end of this season.

– The Mirror reports Arsenal are also interested in a January move for Vitoria Guimaraes midfielder Ibrahima Bamba, having sent scouts to watch him.

– Calciomercato claims Tottenham are looking into a swap deal involving Emerson Royal in order to bring Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries to the club from Inter.

– Serie A leaders Napoli are preparing an offer for Barcelona's Jordi Alba, who is looking for first-team football, according to El Nacional.

LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo hailed Gareth Bale for his last-gasp equaliser and substitute goalkeeper John McCarthy for his shoot-out heroics amid the chaos of Saturday's MLS Cup triumph.

Cherundolo's side clinched the MLS Cup with a 3-0 penalty shoot-out win over Philadelphia Union after the game had ended 3-3 following regulation and added time in a incredibly dramatic final at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau was sent off in the 116th minute and left with a suspected broken leg for a last-man foul after a nightmare back-pass from Jesus Murillo.

After a lengthy delay for treatment for Crepeau, Union took the lead in the 124th minute from Jack Elliott's close-range finish, but substitute Bale sent it to penalties with a 128th-minute headed equaliser.

Bale, who has only made two starts in 13 appearances for LAFC since his move from Real Madrid in June, had been brought on in the 97th minute before his crucial intervention.

"He's a guy with big qualities and a guy who makes big plays," Cherundolo told reporters about 33-year-old Wales international Bale.

"Let's hope he doesn't in the first game of the World Cup for all the Americans in the room [Wales play USA]. But it's Gareth being Gareth. He does it in training. He's done it this season.

"When he's feeling well and healthy, he makes a difference in games. That's why we bring him in in those moments. I wish he was 24."

Bale, who scored twice in Madrid's 3-1 triumph over Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final, was delighted to make his contribution with LAFC down to 10 men.

"It's always nice to score in finals, and I seem to have a knack for doing that," he said. "It's big, it's important for the club, it's important for the fans. Like I said, we were down to 10 men, I guess not really looking like we were going to get anything out of the game.

"Credit to everybody to keep pushing and keep fighting. It was nice to get the goal and to help the team. And where it ranks, I'm not too sure but it's a great feeling."

Cherundolo added that he was not sure of the extent of Canada international Crepeau's leg injury, but was full of praise for substitute McCarthy who saved two spot-kicks to decide the shoot-out and earn the MVP award.

"Couldn't happen to a better guy," the LAFC boss said. "John is one of the heartbeats of this team emotionally.

"We know what he can do in penalties. We've seen it. We've trained for these moments, and John came up big. Like I said, couldn't happen to a better guy, and extremely happy for him and everybody at LAFC."

A fantastic season for Jamaica Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake ended in disappointment following a penalty shootout loss to Los Angeles FC, in a thrilling final highlighted by a stoppage time header from former Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale.

In the wild ride of an MLS Cup final substitute goalkeeper John McCarthy emerged as the ultimate hero, saving two penalties in the shoot-out after an astonishing 3-3 draw.

In front of their own fans on Saturday, LAFC took the lead through Kellyn Acosta's deflected free-kick but were pegged back just before the hour when Daniel Gazdag scored his 24th goal of the season.

Jesus David Murillo headed LAFC back into the lead in the 83rd minute, but Jack Elliott stung the hosts with another leveller two minutes later.

English centre-back Elliott looked to have won it when he put Philadelphia back in front deep into extra time, after LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau was sent off, but substitute Gareth Bale headed the hosts level in the eighth minute of stoppage time, with a powerful header that Blake had no chance of getting to.

Then the drama really went up a notch, with McCarthy, a Philadelphia-born former Union goalkeeper, pulling off saves from Jose Martinez and Kai Wagner, after Gazdag also haplessly missed from the spot.

Ilie Sanchez tucked away the clinching penalty in a 3-0 shoot-out triumph, sparking wild celebrations of the team's first MLS Cup triumph, with McCarthy named MVP.

The opening goal in the 28th minute owed plenty to fortune, with Acosta's 22-yard strike flicking off the head of 19-year-old Union midfielder Jack McGlynn and finding the bottom-left corner.

This was the first time since 2003 an MLS Cup has featured the teams that came top in the West and the East. They each finished the regular season with 67 points, but LAFC took the Supporters' Shield due to having more wins than Philadelphia, and that earned them home advantage.

The game's first equaliser arrived in the 59th minute when what looked like a wildly ambitious 30-yard shot from Jose Martinez inadvertently turned into a throughball for Gazdag, who controlled the fizzing low ball well before firing past Crepeau.

Murillo looked to have headed a winner for Los Angeles with seven minutes remaining as he powered home Carlos Vela's inswinging corner from the right. However, a terrific equaliser from Elliott, a fierce header after a free-kick from Kai Wagner on the left, brought Philadelphia level in the 85th minute.

Bale entered the fray in the seventh minute of extra time, replacing Vela.

Philadelphia then looked to have been dealt an outrageous injustice when Cory Burke raced through on goal and was scythed down by Crepeau, who was initially only yellow-carded for a clear professional foul, but it was soon upgraded to red. Crepeau looked to be seriously injured and had to be carried off, and on came McCarthy, the unlikeliest of heroes.

 

Stefano Pioli believes the character of his Milan side is "second to none" after the reigning Serie A champions secured a late win against Spezia on Saturday.

Olivier Giroud came off the bench at San Siro to score an 89th-minute winner in the 2-1 victory, though was then sent off for a second booking after removing his shirt while celebrating.

Pioli was full of praise for the mental strength of his team after the win, which took Milan up to second and back to within six points of league leaders Napoli after the latter beat Atalanta.

"Our mentality is to believe in what we do," he told Sky. "As far as character is concerned, we are second to none."

Theo Hernandez put Milan in front with a first-half volley from close range, only for Daniel Maldini - son of Milan legend and technical director Paolo - to equalise against his parent club with Spezia's first away goal of the season.

Maldini's goal came 5,333 days after his father's last one at San Siro in March 2008.

Pioli did not seem to mind Maldini scoring, particularly because his team eventually secured the win, and declared that his father was able to experience the best of both worlds, with his son scoring and his team winning.

"Daniel Maldini's goal? It was the perfect evening for Paolo," the Rossoneri head coach joked.

"The match was difficult, we made it complicated... I liked the first half, [but] we have to work to close the game early."

On Giroud's red, with the French striker later claiming he had forgotten he was on a yellow card, Pioli said: "He is a very strong guy, and I am very happy with his performances.

"Tonight, he was naive."

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