Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a freak last-gasp goal to snatch a 4-3 victory for Inter over Fiorentina in a Serie A thriller at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

A frantic first half saw Inter race into a two-goal lead with only 15 minutes on the clock, Nicolo Barella opening the scoring and Martinez doubling the lead, but Arthur Cabral's penalty gave the Viola hope.

Jonathan Ikone curled home an equaliser on the hour mark before Martinez doubled his tally from the penalty spot, but Luka Jovic appeared to have snatched a point with time running out.

The drama was not over, however, as substitute Lorenzo Venuti saw his attempted clearance hit Mkhitaryan on the shin and bobble into the net in one stunning final twist.

 

Julian Nagelsmann insisted Bayern Munich have not changed anything about their approach in recent weeks – they have just started being more ruthless in front of goal.

Bayern strolled to a 2-0 win at Hoffenheim on Saturday thanks to first-half goals from Jamal Musiala and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

The defending Bundesliga champions moved to within a point of surprise leaders Union Berlin, who travel to bottom side Bochum on Sunday.

Bayern's need to catch up to Union is a result of a slow start to the campaign that saw Nagelsmann's side go four games without a victory at one point, though they have won three of their last four since, with the dramatic 2-2 draw at Borussia Dortmund the only discrepancy.

The loss of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona at the end of last season and the lack of a like-for-like replacement led to concerns Bayern would need to adapt to a new way of playing.

Following the win at his former club Hoffenheim, Nagelsmann said nothing much has changed, his players are just finishing their chances with more regularity.

 

"I think we already had plenty of good games beforehand, we just didn't use our chances," he said at a post-match press conference. "There were games like against Stuttgart [2-2 home draw] where we should have been up three or four nil but ended up drawing. Similar against Dortmund as well.

"In general we didn't change too much, neither did the players, they were already working hard... As I've said already, the players want to improve as well and have a very high expectation of themselves.

"We didn't train differently, maybe a little more analysis, and then just [started] winning. At Bayern, you always need to win, then everything is great."

The Bayern head coach also had positive news regarding Leroy Sane, who sustained a muscle injury in last week's win against Freiburg, suggesting the Germany international will be back in training ahead of the World Cup next month.

"It's difficult to predict [how long he will be out for] but the fact he's already back on his feet is great," he said. "We don't really have much experience with him [in recovering from this type of injury] because he has not really had muscle problems... It's not the biggest of injuries.

"He could be back in two-and-a-half or three weeks, and he can certainly be fit and in a good rhythm prior to the World Cup."

Brahim Diaz, Divock Origi and Rafael Leao fired Milan to a 4-1 win over Serie A new boys Monza – the club run by Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani.

The off-field power-brokers at Milan for over 30 years, owner Berlusconi and CEO Galliani have succeeded in taking Monza into the Italian top flight, but this was a reminder of how far they still have to come.

Diaz scored twice in the first half to put Scudetto holders Milan in charge at the break, and former Liverpool striker Divock Origi opened his account for the club to extend their lead.

Filippo Ranocchia reduced the deficit with a spectacular strike, but Leao had the final say, with Monza unable to reprise the level of performance that earned them a shock win over Juventus last month.

Diaz waltzed through the Monza defence in the 16th minute to open the scoring, surging from halfway before skilfully directing the ball past Michele Di Gregorio when coming under a last-ditch challenge.

Monza's Dany Mota should have levelled in the 28th minute but sent his close-range flying header straight at Milan goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

Diaz doubled Milan's lead in the 41st minute when he collected a pass from Origi, stepped past defender Luca Caldirola and lashed a fierce right-footed strike across Di Gregorio and inside the left post.

Suffering with an apparent hamstring problem, Diaz was substituted early in the second half and was replaced by Charles de Ketelaere. Origi rifled the third goal in fine style in the 65th minute, lashing into the top-right corner from the edge of the penalty area.

Ranocchia pulled one back with a 30-yard free-kick in the 65th minute that Tatarusanu reached but could not keep out, before Leao swept home Milan's fourth from 15 yards in the 84th minute.

Reggae Girlz striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw was again on the scoresheet for Manchester City Women as they defeated Tottenham Women 3-0 in the FA Women’s Super League (WSL) at Brisbane Road in London on Saturday.

Shaw produced a double to help City get their second win in four games, moving to fifth in the WSL.

Her first came just before halftime in the 41st minute before getting her second just after the break in the 47th minute. Lauren Hemp got City’s third goal in the 76th minute.

Shaw is now the leading scorer in the WSL so far this season with five goals from four games.

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz now know their opponents in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand after the draw on Saturday in New Zealand.

The Girlz have been drawn in Group F alongside powerhouses Brazil, France and either Taiwan, Panama, Paraguay or Papua New Guinea.

Brazil has been to nine World Cups with their best result being runners-up in 2007 while the French have been to five, most notably finishing fourth in 2011.

Jamaica will open their campaign against France on July 25 in Sydney before facing Chinese Taipei/Panama/Paraguay/Papua New Guinea on July 29 in Perth then battling Brazil on August 2 in Melbourne.

“Excitement,” was Reggae Girlz head coach Lorne Donaldson’s reaction when asked about the draw.

“It was a long day of anticipating. The draw itself was a draw with some exciting teams that play good football so we have to come out and try to match them.”

Jamaica was also drawn against Brazil in the 2019 World Cup, suffering a 0-3 loss in Grenoble.

“This is a totally different Brazil side. It’s a younger team with a different coach. Obviously, we have our work cut out against a fast, skillful Brazilian team so we have to be ready.”

Defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich kept up the pressure on surprise pacesetters Union Berlin with a 2-0 win at Hoffenheim.

Julian Nagelsmann had been disappointed his side did not score more in Bayern's 5-2 win at Augsburg in the DFB-Pokal in midweek.

Bayern were also guilty of letting chances go begging in this league clash against his former club, but goals from Jamal Musiala and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting proved enough for them to come through a tricky test.

They are now a point behind Union, who will be expected to restore a four-point advantage when they visit bottom side Bochum on Sunday.

Serge Gnabry and Choupo-Moting forced Oliver Baumann into early saves and Bayern soon made their superiority count when Leon Goretzka headed a corner into the path of an unmarked Musiala at the far post to tuck home a simple finish.

Goretzka was then too casual with his close-range effort after being teed up by Choupo-Moting, with Musiala's follow-up from Baumann's save cleared off the line.

Gnabry saw his effort from a tight angle kept out by Baumann before Sven Ulreich was tested for the first time at the other end following good work from Georginio Rutter.

Musiala hit the side-netting at the end of a well-worked move but the similarly impressive Choupo-Moting made no mistake with an emphatic finish after ghosting into the box to receive a pinpoint return pass from Gnabry.

Bayern took their foot off the gas in the second half, though substitute Marcel Sabitzer might have added a third if not for a fine save with his legs by Baumann.

Karim Benzema faces time on the Real Madrid sidelines after the Ballon d'Or winner was revealed to be suffering with muscular fatigue in his left leg.

With one month to go until France begin their World Cup campaign against Australia, the news of Benzema's exertions taking their toll may be of some concern to Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps.

For now, there is no suggestion Benzema will not be fit to play a full role in the Qatar 2022 tournament, but the injury announcement is a reminder all players are susceptible amid a packed fixture schedule for Europe's top clubs.

A Madrid club statement read: "Following tests carried out today on Karim Benzema by the Real Madrid medical services, he has been diagnosed with muscular fatigue in the quadricep muscle of his left leg. His recovery will be monitored."

Reports in Spain said that, as well as missing Saturday's game against Sevilla, Benzema was also expected to be absent for the Champions League fixture at RB Leipzig on Tuesday.

However, Benzema could be back for the LaLiga clash with Girona on Sunday, October 30, sports daily Marca reported.

Benzema won the Ballon d'Or for his feats last season, when his 44 goals in 46 games helped Madrid triumph in LaLiga and the Champions League.

He scored in last Sunday's 3-1 win over Barcelona as Madrid went clear at the top of the Spanish top flight, before netting again on Wednesday in the 3-0 victory at Elche, where he played the full 90 minutes.

Ronaldo Nazario ranks himself alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona as part of a "very special group" of football's greatest ever players. 

Legendary forward Ronaldo led Brazil to their most recent World Cup triumph 20 years ago, scoring eight goals as Luiz Felipe Scolari's team sealed the country's fifth title in Japan and South Korea.

No Brazilian has ever bettered Ronaldo's tally at a single edition of the tournament, while his total return of 15 World Cup goals has only been beaten by Germany's Miroslav Klose (16).  

While Ronaldo believes his exploits put him in the pantheon of footballing greats, he told the Guardian it was difficult to compare his abilities to those of players from different generations.

Asked to choose between seven-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi and another Argentina icon in Maradona, Ronaldo said: "That's unfair! 

"I think there is a very, very special group where you have Diego, Messi, [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, Pele, [Marco] Van Basten, Ronaldinho. I would include myself. 

 

"Let the fans say, let them debate it in the bars. But you can't rank them, can't compare generations. 

"People call me the 'original' Ronaldo but there were others – and they weren't false. 

"I'm not the only one, and more will come along and be better than me in everything. I did what I could, the best I could."

Brazil's hopes of repeating their 2002 World Cup win will depend largely on the form of Neymar, who has been involved in 42 per cent of the Selecao's World Cup goals since making his tournament debut in 2014 (8/19 – six goals, two assists).

Ronaldo compared the abilities of the Paris Saint-Germain forward to those of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, insisting no football fan could fail to enjoy watching him play. 

"People love him a lot," Ronaldo added of Neymar. "If we talk specifically about football, I doubt there's anyone who doesn't love him. His private life transcends football, but I'm not interested. 

"He's daring, has skill, variety, is quick, scores goals, has personality. You could compare him to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, even though they are from a different planet. 

"On the pitch Neymar is one [thing], then people mix in all the other stuff."

 

Former Brazil forward Ronaldo admits he would "love" to see Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti take the reins of the Selecao, stating it would be a "historic" move.

With the Qatar 2022 World Cup set to start next month, Tite's side are bidding to break a two-decade European hold on the sport's greatest prize, led by talents such as Neymar, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.

But regardless of their ultimate tournament performance, the 61-year-old's tenure in charge could well be coming to an end, with pundits floating the Manchester City and Real Madrid bosses as potential successors.

In a country where the national team has always been led by a native, there is significant pushback to the suggestion of an outsider - but Ronaldo believes it could prove a watershed moment for the Selecao.

"I would love it," Brazil great Ronaldo told The Guardian. "A European not just with the Brazilian national team but the entire Brazilian football industry.

"A Pep or an Ancelotti could be historic, it could change our history for 100 years."

Brazil last won the World Cup at Korea-Japan 2002, and entered the 2014 edition - which they hosted - as home favourites, before a stunning 7-1 semi-final collapse against Germany.

As a squad headlined by Neymar - who is closing in on Pele's Selecao goalscoring record - prepares for their latest tilt however, Ronaldo sees no reason why they cannot break their barren run this time around.

"There's been a European dominance," he acknowledged. "France, Spain and Germany are always there. England produced a great Euros [campaign].

"But Argentina have gone 35 unbeaten. Brazil look very good, although that doesn’t count for anything.

"In Brazil, we want to win. Let's see what Tite does. He has options up front, very good ones.

"Vinícius has to start – he would start in any team in the world. On the right, Raphinha is playing incredibly, but we have Rodrygo, who would get in anywhere. Then there's Neymar. He's got the desire."

England will face Denmark, China and an as-yet undecided qualifier at next year's Australia/New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup, as holders the United States face fellow 2019 finalists the Netherlands.

The Lionesses, heading into their first major tournament since claiming Euro 2022 glory on home turf, will compete in Group D following Saturday's draw in Auckland.

Sarina Wiegman's side will meet fellow UEFA outfit Denmark alongside Asian Cup holders China, plus one of Chile, Senegal or Haiti, who are due to complete their qualification battle in February next year.

All eyes will be on Group E however, where the USWNT will meet Wiegman's old team once more, four years on from defeating them in the final at France 2019.

They are joined by Vietnam, as well as another unknown qualifier who will be confirmed at the start of next year.

Elsewhere, the Republic of Ireland face hosts Australia in Group B, along with Canada and Nigeria, while co-hosts New Zealand take on Norway, Switzerland and the Philippines in Group A.

Japan, finalists in 2015, have been pitted against Spain, Zambia and Costa Rica in Group C, while France, Jamaica and Brazil - alongside the third and final remaining qualifier - make up an intriguing Group F.

Sweden, downed by England in the Euro 2020 semi-finals earlier this year, headline Group G alongside South Africa, Italy and Argentina. Germany are in Group H with Morocco, Colombia and South Korea.

The tournament begins on July 20 next year, before reaching its climax with the final at Sydney's Stadium Australia four weeks later on August 20.

The Frenkie de Jong transfer rumour mill is heating up once again as we get closer to January, with Chelsea and Liverpool reportedly set to join Manchester United in the pursuit of the Barcelona midfielder.

De Jong, 25, was one of the most ubiquitous names in the most recent transfer window, with United and Barcelona in regular communication as Erik ten Hag tried to recruit his former Ajax pupil.

After deciding to remain at Camp Nou, despite the LaLiga club urging him to leave to help ease their finances, De Jong has started six out of 14 matches for the Blaugrana so far this season.

With their Champions League campaign looking headed for an early exit, and more playing time likely on the table in the Premier League, it may seem more palatable for the Dutch international to make the jump in January.

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE GIANTS PREPARE BIDS FOR BARCELONA'S DE JONG

Barcelona and United agreed on a deal starting at €65million plus add-ons before De Jong decided to veto the move by refusing to sign a contract with the Old Trafford side.

With his contract still tying him to Barcelona until 2026, there is no reason to believe that figure would dip unless the Catalan outfit are desperate to get a deal done.

ESPN's report claims Chelsea have had their interest spurred by the injury status of N'Golo Kante, who will apparently miss around four months after undergoing surgery on his hamstring, while Liverpool have made no secret about their desire for midfield reinforcements, and are said to have contacted De Jong's representatives.

ROUND-UP

– According to Football Italia, Juventus will be willing to sell 24-year-old American midfielder Weston McKennie for €20m in January.   

– The Evening Standard is reporting Arsenal are interested in 23-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Evan Ndicka, with the French international set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Wilfried Zaha is likely to reject a new contract from Crystal Palace so he can join a top-six Premier League side when his deal expires at the end of the season, per the Daily Mail.

– Football Insider claims 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward Youssoufa Moukoko has caught the eye of the world's elite clubs, with interest coming from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool.

– Le 10 Sport is reporting Inter view Sevilla centre-back Tanguy Nianzou and Valencia's Mouctar Diakhaby as potential replacements for Milan Skriniar, with the Slovakian expected to leave in January.

Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn lauded the career of Franck Ribery as "one of the greatest in football" after the Frenchman announced his retirement.

On Friday, Ribery ended a 22-year career that saw him represent the likes of Metz, Galatasaray, Marseille, Fiorentina and Salernitana.

The 39-year-old spent the bulk of his career at Bayern, though, where he won nine Bundesliga titles in 12 years.

He also won six DFB-Pokal crowns, one Champions League, a European Super Cup and a Club World Cup during his time in Germany.

Speaking to Bayern's website as they paid tribute to a club great, Kahn – Ribery's former team-mate – said: "One of the greatest careers in football – not just FC Bayern – is coming to an end with Franck Ribery.

"I had the fortune to play together with him and could see clearly from my goal how he excited our fans with his attacking play at the other end of the pitch. Franck was a rogue on the pitch, something very special, stood for cunning.

"FC Bayern is proud to have had him in its ranks for over 10 years and to have won the biggest titles with him."

 

Ribery made 425 appearances for the Bundesliga club in all competitions, scoring 124 goals and recording 182 assists.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic added: "There's always talk of football needing characters, and Franck was one of the biggest characters in world football. You don't get many like him, so we'll miss him.

"Looking back, Franck's signing in 2007 was sort of the foundation for FC Bayern's rise to being consistently one of Europe's best clubs. Franck was a virtuoso on the ball, a great fighter, a joker, always left his soul on the pitch and gave his all for our club."

Ribery moved to Fiorentina after leaving Bayern in 2019, scoring five and assisting nine goals in 51 appearances before signing for Salernitana last year.

He will remain at Salernitana in a non-playing capacity, the Italian club confirmed.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has continued to have a positive impact at Milan during his recovery from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, according to Stefano Pioli. 

The 41-year-old, who has scored 33 goals in 60 league appearances in his second spell with the Rossoneri, underwent surgery in May.

Ibrahimovic's career appeared to be in danger at that time, but the Sweden great declared last month: "If I see a player stronger than me, I'll stop. But I haven't seen him yet."

While the striker is not expected to feature for the Scudetto holders until 2023, Pioli says he has been a "positive" figure around the Rossoneri squad during his layoff. 

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Serie A meeting with Monza, Pioli said: "Zlatan, in everything he says and does, is never trivial. He is very intelligent.

"He knows how we want to play and how we prepare for matches, and he confronts me. His presence is positive.

"His recovery is still a little bit long. It will take some time to see him again on the pitch; it is nice, however, to see him here in Milanello, he is fine with the boys."

 

Milan have won seven of their first 10 games of a Serie A season as defending champions for the first time since 1992-93, when they retained the Scudetto, but they still sit three points adrift of leaders Napoli.

However, Pioli believes his side deserve to have won more points than they have, adding: "The calendar is completely different, compared to the first half of last year.

"In my opinion, we deserved to collect something more, like with Napoli [a 2-1 home loss last month], for example. Then there were some negative situations that need to be improved. Our level must always be high."

Pioli also offered an update on the condition of Mike Maignan following reports suggesting the France goalkeeper could miss the World Cup after suffering a setback in his battle against a calf injury.

"We are sorry for Mike," Pioli said. "We evaluated everything possible, he wanted to play in Verona [last Sunday], we had checked everything, but this injury will keep him out at least until January."

While the absence of Maignan would leave France lacking competition for Hugo Lloris between the sticks, French media reports have since claimed the 27-year-old could still recover in time to travel to Qatar, with Pioli's words said to be referring only to his club availability.

Erling Haaland could become the first player in world football to make a transfer worth £1billion, according to his agent Rafaela Pimenta.

Haaland left Borussia Dortmund to join Manchester City after they activated a £51.2million (€60m) release clause in his BVB contract in May, and the striker has already begun to pay that fee back by making an incredible start to life in England.

The Norwegian became the first player to score as many as nine goals in his first five Premier League appearances in August and has already netted three hat-tricks in the competition.

Haaland has hit the net 15 times in 10 league games for City, and Pimenta, who manages the agency built by the late Mino Raiola, believes he could make history with his next move.

Asked to put a price on Haaland by Sky Sport Italia, Pimenta said: "One billion, that's what I think. 

"If you put together his football value, his image value, his sponsorship value, it is one billion, for sure.

"It's also normal to compare Erling with [Kylian] Mbappe, so you have a little bit of an idea of the market. I think Erling will be the first player to achieve a transfer around one billion." 

Haaland's incredible form has coincided with speculation linking him to Real Madrid, but Pimenta would be open to discussing a new contract with City instead of instigating a move away.

Asked whether Haaland could already be in line for a new deal, she said: "I hope so! If they want to discuss it today, I would be happy. Why not?"

However, Pimenta kept her cards close to her chest when questioned on reports claiming Haaland's current contract has a release clause allowing him to join Madrid on favourable terms. 

"The good and bad of being a lawyer is that you know what you cannot say," she added. "You don't need someone poking you, saying; 'Don't say this, don't say that'. I cannot talk about it."

Until now, Napoli have pretty much risen to every challenge this season as they aim to win the Scudetto for the first time since 1990.

They sit top of the Serie A table after 10 games and are one of just two teams to not lose a game, with Luciano Spalletti's men already beating Lazio and Milan away from home.

While their past three league games – wins over Torino, Cremonese and Bologna – would have always been expected to yield Napoli victories, a slightly trickier run begins this weekend.

Before the break for the World Cup, Napoli still have to face Rangers and Liverpool in the Champions League, plus high-flying Udinese, second-placed Atalanta, Sassuolo and, first up, Jose Mourinho's in-form Roma in Serie A.

Sunday's trip to the capital poses a real threat to a historic achievement that is…

… within touching distance

While Napoli's Champions League exploits – hammering Liverpool, Rangers and Ajax, twice – have attracted plenty of praise, the true extent of their form doesn't appear to have really registered outside of Italy yet.

However, they are undeniably on a remarkable run across all competitions.

 

Napoli have won each of their past 10 matches, meaning they are just one victory away from equalling the longest such run in the club's history.

That 11-game winning streak was recorded between April and September 1986, the Diego Maradona era.

Although the run ended in September, that was still the season Napoli won their first Scudetto.

Kvaradona

Napoli may not have a player of Maradona's ilk this time, though supporters have certainly taken to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

The Georgia winger only joined in pre-season, but his impact has been phenomenal.

 

Already he has been involved in 13 goals in 14 appearances in all competitions, which is more than any other Serie A player.

He heads into the weekend on a particularly effective run, too, having registered one assist in each of his past four games. The last Napoli player to have a better run (five games) was club great Lorenzo Insigne in early 2016.

The 'Kvaradona' nickname is seemingly here to stay.

 

Napoli's versatile arsenal

As good as Kvaratskhelia has been for Napoli this term, it wouldn't be fair to say they're completely dependent on him.

In fact, the Partenopei have earned themselves a reputation for being adaptable and versatile.

For starters, they've had 15 different scorers in Serie A this season, which is the joint-most with Bayern Munich across the big five leagues.

And on top of that, Napoli's 35 goals from set-pieces (including penalties) since the start of last season is more than any other Serie A team.

 

Omens on Napoli's side?

Mourinho has Roma in good shape. They're fourth in Serie A and go into the weekend having won each of their past three league games – they last managed four successive top-flight wins in August 2020.

But their recent record – for what it's worth – against Napoli is pretty poor, having only won one of their previous eight Serie A meetings, a 2-1 victory in November 2019.

On top of that, Roma are winless in their past 12 home league games against teams in the top four at the beginning of the matchday, losing the three most recent examples.

A Roma win will put them just a point behind Napoli, however. Regardless of the latter's fine start to the season, they won't be expecting a straightforward contest.

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