Serie A champions Juventus beat visiting Cagliari 4-0 with a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick to go three points clear of second-placed Inter Milan.
The Milan side can draw level on points by winning a big match at Napoli later Monday.
Juventus for now sit top on 45 points from 18 games.
Ronaldo, now on 13 league goals, netted seven in the past five games.
“It was a good start to the year, but the important thing is the team,” Ronaldo said.
“We created chances, and scoring is always important. Our game is getting better game by game. But we have to work and keep improving.”
At Turin’s Allianz Stadium, Juventus played a lacklustre first half, but Ronaldo pounced on a bad clearance to strike in the 49th minute.
He then scored a penalty kick in the 67th minute and closed the scoring in the 82nd minute off an assist by substitute Douglas Costa.
Gonzalo Higuain, a second half substitute, scored the game’s third goal one minute earlier with a slightly-deflected drive.
AC Milan brought on returning star Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 55th minute as they were held 0-0 at home to Sampdoria.
The result meant they continue a dismal run in spite of the arrival of the 35-year-old Swedish star last week.
The Devils, on 22 points, lie 13 points off the UEFA Champions League zone as the domestic season reaches the halfway mark next weekend.
Sampdoria are two points above the drop zone.
“We wanted a win and failing to get it was disappointing,” Milan coach Stafano Pioli said.
“We played a lot of balls into their midfield but lacked the quality and the precision needed to win the game. We tried until the end, but did not find the right chance.
“In my opinion, (Ibrahimovic’s) impact was positive. He helped the team and was very active. Possibly the team are not used yet to his strong personality.”
Atalanta hammered Parma 5-0 with a Josip Ilicic brace, repeating the scoreline they inflicted on AC Milan 5-0 in the previous round.
The sparkling Bergamo side opened with a marvellous Alejandro Gomez drive under the bar and went into the break with two more goals from Remo Freuler and Robin Gosens.
Ilicic sealed victory after the break, taking the squad’s tally to a league best of 48 goals.
Earlier on Monday, Bologna youngster Riccardo Orsolini drilled in a stoppage-time free-kick to salvage a 1-1 home draw after Marco Benassi volleyed in a majestic first half opener for visiting Fiorentina.
La Viola hired their former midfielder Giuseppe Iachini during a two-week New Year break to replace coach Vincenzo Montella, who lost five and drew two of his last seven games.
In Sunday action, third-placed Lazio won 2-1 at Brescia, fourth-placed Roma lost 2-0 at home to Torino and Verona beat SPAL 2-0.
Genoa went third-last as their new coach Davide Nicola made a winning debut by edging Sassuolo 2-1.
Lecce versus Udinese and the Inter Milan game complete Match Day 18 later on Monday.
(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)https://nnn.ng/ronaldo-hits-hat-trick-for-juventus-as-ibrahimovics-return-fails-to-lift-ac-milan/
Spurs sign Bale on loan, Reguilon on permanent deal
Tottenham Hotspur have signed winger Gareth Bale and left-back Sergio Reguilon from Spanish champions Real Madrid, the English Premier League (EPL) club announced in a statement on Saturday.
Bale returns to his former club on a one-year loan deal, with British media reporting that Spurs will pay 20 million pounds in wages and fees for the 31-year-old Wales forward.
Reguilon, who spent last season on loan at Sevilla, arrives for a reported fee of 30 million euros (35.51 million dollars).
Bale made more than 200 appearances for Spurs between 2007 and 2013, scoring 56 goals with 58 assists before his then world record move to Real Madrid for 100 million euros.
He won four UEFA Champions League trophies and two La Liga titles with Real Madrid.
But he has divided opinion amongst the club’s fanbase, with some supporters frustrated by a perceived lack of commitment from the Welshman and his poor injury record.
Bale was poised for a move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning last year before the deal fell through.
He endured his worst season at Real Madrid in 2019/2020, scoring only three goals in all competitions, and barely featured in their run to the Liga title.
His growing rift with manager Zinedine Zidane intensified when he did not travel with the squad for a UEFA Champions League clash against Manchester City last season.
The signings of Bale and Reguilon follow the arrival at Spurs of Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Ireland defender Matt Doherty and former England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Aguero could be out of action until November, Guardiola says
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero could miss the first two months of the 2020/2021 English Premier League (EPL) season, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
Guardiola said this was because Aguero was yet to train with the club since suffering a knee injury in June.
The Argentine was sidelined for the last 12 matches of Manchester City’s 2019/2020 campaign, including their two UEFA Champions League fixtures in August.
Guardiola said the 32-year-old may not be fit until November.
“We knew the injury was difficult,” Guardiola said.
“He still hasn’t had one training session with us and Sergio is not a guy who regains his physical condition quickly.
“He has been out for a long time. So, maybe in one or two months he will be ready.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Whirlwind Bayern Munich dismantle Schalke 8-0 in season opener
Treble winners Bayern Munich crushed Schalke 04 8-0 with a hat-trick from Serge Gnabry and a superb debut from Leroy Sane on Friday.
It was a sensational start to the new Bundesliga season and the win sent an ominous warning to potential challengers.
Also, it was the biggest opening win in Bundesliga history.
Bayern Munich showed they had lost none of the sharpness which helped them to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy less than a month ago in dominant fashion.
Gnabry grabbed his first goal for the hosts with a fine turn and shot in the fourth minute in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.
It stretched Bayern Munich’s unbeaten run to 31 games this year, having now won the last 22 matches in a row.
Schalke 04, without a league win in 17 consecutive matches since January, were helpless against Bayern Munich’s lightning-quick game.
Leon Goretzka found plenty of space to drive a low shot past goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann in the 19th minute.
“You can see that the team was already strong last season,” said Sane, who joined from Manchester City. “The team is still hungry in spite of winning the treble last season and to have such a start is outstanding.”
Bayern Munich finished their season in August when they added the Champions League to their Bundesliga and German Cup titles and then had only a short preparation for the new season.
Last season’s top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski found the net with a 31st minute penalty kick to become the first player to score in 10 successive appearances against the same Bundesliga opponents.
Gnabry then scored twice from Sane’s assists in the 47th and 59th before Thomas Mueller made it half a dozen after Lewandowski set him up with an impressive rabona kick.
Sane then capped his superb Bayern Munich debut with a fine finish from a counter attack in an empty Allianz Arena.
This was after the city had banned spectators due to rising coronavirus infection numbers in the region.
A little later substitute Jamal Musiala drilled in goal number eight to become the youngest ever Bayern Munich goalscorer in the league at 17 years old.
The result piled more pressure on already-embattled Schalke 04 coach David Wagner, who has been under intense scrutiny during their winless run this year.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Laloko wants 25% of local players in Super Eagles
Laloko made the call on Friday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria , in reaction to Nigeria’s latest FIFA rankings released on Thursday.
Nigeria is placed on the 29th spot in the world and third in Africa, behind Senegal and Tunisia, in current FIFA ranking.
Laloko said it was wrong for the current team handler Gernot Rohr to constantly feature foreign-based players while home-based players were left to their fate.
According to him, such situation has negatively affected Nigeria’s previous rankings.
“It is not proper for us to go and select players from Europe and play all of them when we have players at home.
“We need a policy that will allow 25 per cent of the players in the national teams to come from our local leagues.
“Do Rohr and his assistants watch the leagues? They don’t; they do what they like at the expense of the country, and the way the coach is assembling only foreign players, I can only wish him well.
“Nobody is playing football now, otherwise how can we be 29th. Our friendly matches and preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), will determine the actual position where we are.
“I will suggest that we wait until we play friendly matches and proceed to the AFCON; for me, our current ranking is fake, so let us play first because no country is playing now.
“So how did we arrive at 29th? Time will tell,” Laloko said.
He urged the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), to regularly monitor the activities of the coach, noting that gone were the days when coaches folded their hands and watched players train.
He explained that football had gone scientific and not the usual running round the field with players.
“How long are we going to do that? There are new ways of coaching and I have never seen that during Super Eagles training,” he said.
Edited By: Dianabasi Effiong/Donald Ugwu