Milan must take responsibility for their draw against 10-man Fiorentina, says Stefano Pioli, but the coach was convinced his side should not have had a late penalty awarded against them.

Ante Rebic's goal put Milan ahead after 56 minutes in Saturday's Serie A clash, with Fiorentina's chances diminished further when Dalbert was sent off after a VAR check.

But Fiorentina rallied late on and were given a penalty when Alessio Romagnoli was deemed to have fouled ex-Rossoneri striker Patrick Cutrone, even though the defender seemed to have got the ball.

Erick Pulgar converted beyond Asmir Begovic – who had replaced the injured Gianluigi Donnarumma early in the second half – and Milan were ultimately fortunate to come away with a point after Martin Caceres and Dusan Vlahovic missed late chances.

Though Pioli acknowledged his side had slipped up in failing to retain their lead, he was sure Romagnoli was unfairly penalised.

"We have to take full responsibility, as we had the game in hand, did everything we needed to do, but then stopped playing once Fiorentina went down to 10 men and assumed the game was over," he told DAZN.

"There are regrets, we certainly shoulder responsibility, because we made errors.

"As for the penalty, there are no doubts, it was not a penalty. You could tell from the bench that the ball moved when Romagnoli went in.

"I do not understand why technology is not used in these situations. I do not understand it. I thought and had taken it for granted that VAR helped a referee change an incorrect decision, but apparently that is not the case.

"It's difficult to accept, because we've had some strange incidents going against us. We shoulder a lot of the responsibility, because we made mistakes, but on the other situation, there's nothing we can do to control that."

While Milan will leave Florence feeling hard done by, Cutrone – who clapped the travelling support after the game – insisted he had no intention to celebrate if he had been on spot-kick duties.

"Milan will never be an opponent for me. I thank them for all they gave me and the applause at the end," Cutrone told DAZN.

"I am happy with the point, I thank the Viola fans for their support and the Milan fans for their salute. If I had taken the penalty, I never would have celebrated because I respect Milan so much and I would never do that to them.

"I have to thank Fiorentina for believing in me. I have to repay the club with performances and I hope many goals."

Geoffrey Cros grabbed a double as Top 14 leaders Bordeaux Begles beat Clermont Auvergne 31-22 to go eight points clear after Toulon were beaten at La Rochelle on Saturday.

Versatile back Cros scored a try in each half at Stade Marcel-Michelin, where Remi Lamerat also crossed in the first half and Jules Gimbert touched down to give Bordeaux breathing space late on.

Seta Tamanivalu's yellow card, which resulted in Morgan Parra slotting over a fifth penalty, set up a tense final but Gimbert's score ensured Bordeaux took maximum points.

Clermont led 19-14 at half-time courtesy of 14 points from the boot of Parra and a Paul Jedrasiak try, yet they were unable to finish off the job and sit in sixth place.

La Rochelle leapfrogged Toulon to go third with a 17-12 victory at Stade Marcel Deflandre.

Struggling Stade Francais had claimed a surprise win over La Rochelle last weekend, but Arthur Retiere scored the only try of the game in the second half and Jules Plisson landed four first-half penalties to get them back on track.

Pau dropped to the foot of the table after slumping to a 26-16 loss at Castres despite Mathieu Babillot's red card, while Loris Tolot claimed a brace of tries as Agen moved off the bottom with a 30-16 win at Brive.

Stade were brought back down to earth after their victory at La Rochelle, going down to a 28-17 defeat at Bayonne to sit second-bottom, with Agen rising two places.

Ulster and Glasgow Warriors both claimed victories on Saturday to keep themselves in pole position for a place in the Pro14 play-off quarter-finals.

Second in Conference A, Ulster bounced back from an away defeat at Ospreys last time out as they ran out 20-10 winners over Cheetahs.

Tries from Tom O'Toole and Robert Baloucoune proved enough for Ulster to claim their eighth win of the season and maintain their unbeaten run at home in all competitions this campaign.

Clayton Blommetjies drove over for Cheetahs with 15 minutes remaining, but the visitors did not have enough to set up a grandstand finish.

Glasgow, meanwhile, moved up to third in Conference A with a 30-19 comeback victory over Dragons, who took the lead through a Rhodri Williams try in the first minute.

The Warriors swiftly hit back via Tim Swinson and Grant Stewart to take a 10-point lead into the break.

Williams got his second for Dragons while Stewart doubled his tally for the home side and Huw Jones secured the bonus point after being dropped by Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.

Ashton Hewitt's try brought Dragons back into contention but Mesu Dolokoto's late score made sure of a third straight win for Glasgow.

Sydney Roosters have won the World Club Challenge for a record fifth time thanks to a hard-fought 20-12 victory over St Helens.

The back-to-back NRL champions defeated Wigan Warriors in the 2019 one-off fixture and, despite falling behind against Saints on Saturday, once again came out on top against their Super League counterparts.

Luke Thompson – who will head to Australia after the season to join the Canterbury Bulldogs – opened the scoring when he crashed over from Theo Fages' pass for a converted try.

The Dragons roared back, however, with Daniel Tupou hanging on to a low pass by his boots before waltzing over the line on his side's left flank.

Joseph Manu put the visitors in front when he touched down on the opposite side of the field for his first of the game, diving over as Saints were caught short of numbers out wide.

Kyle Flanagan – making his debut for the Roosters – hit the posts with both conversion attempts, making it 8-6 at the half-time interval.

Saints had opportunities to hit back after the break, wing Tommy Makinson ruled to have knocked on as he attempted to score under pressure.

Instead it was the Roosters who crucially scored next, Manu grabbing his second try. Luke Keary then provided the finish following Siosiua Taukeiaho's initial break from inside his own half, putting the game beyond St Helens.

Alex Walmsley did plunge over for a late consolation score, Makinson adding the extras, but Sydney held on to retain the trophy and maintain their 100 per cent record in the annual competition.

Wayne Pivac was unimpressed with the officiating after Wales suffered a narrow defeat to France that leaves the defending champions with only a slim chance of retaining their Six Nations title.

Romain Ntamack was the star of the show as Les Bleus ended a 10-year wait for a victory in Cardiff, winning a thriller 27-23 on Saturday.

Ntamack scored 17 points in a fly-half masterclass at the Principality Stadium for a France side that have won three out of three this year, putting them on track for a first Six Nations crown in a decade.

However, Wales felt they should have been awarded a penalty try by referee Matthew Carley for what they saw as a deliberate knock-on by Paul Willemse when Ken Owens attempted to set up Josh Adams in the second half.

Head coach Pivac said: "We have had a look at the slap down and I think the officials may have got that one wrong.

"That killed momentum as well."

Pivac was also aggrieved when France were awarded a penalty in a scrum as Wales applied the pressure, with prop Wyn Jones having stated this week he expected Les Bleus to "cheat" when they packed down.

"Another disappointing moment was when the French tighthead [Demba Bamba] came on and went straight across the scrum and was rewarded for that," said the New Zealander.

"Those were the big moments in the game. The scrums, from our point of view, had gone okay up until that point.

"You have got to go with the forward motion but he clearly went across the scrum."

Pivac said wings George North and Adams will be checked over after suffering head and ankle injuries respectively, with Wales having games against England and Scotland in March.

"George will go through the normal protocols for a HIA [head injury assessment]. He was taken off the field for a HIA," Pivac stated.

"Josh Adams had an ankle injury. We will have to check him in the next day or two to see how severe it is."

Eden Hazard hobbled off during Real Madrid's LaLiga game at Levante on Saturday - giving Zinedine Zidane a major injury concern ahead of a crucial week for the club.

The Belgium international, who has only recently returned from a fractured ankle, was clearly in pain as he was replaced by Vinicius Junior in the 67th minute with the score at 0-0.

Hazard could be seen sitting on the visitors' bench receiving treatment to his lower right leg, with Zidane now waiting to discover the full extent of the problem ahead of two huge home fixtures.

Madrid, who went on to lose 1-0 to Levante, host Manchester City on Wednesday in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, followed by the visit of title rivals Barcelona in league action next Sunday.

Hazard was making just his second outing since requiring surgery on his right ankle after he was hurt against Paris Saint-Germain on November 2.

His debut campaign in the Spanish capital got off to a delayed start following a thigh injury in pre-season, forcing him to wait until September 14 to make his debut following his arrival from Chelsea in June.

Real Madrid slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat at Levante thanks to Jose Luis Morales' stunning late winner, as Los Blancos produced a toothless display and lost Eden Hazard to injury ahead of a pivotal week.

Zinedine Zidane's men created the better chances in Valencia but were wasteful in front of goal, and Morales' glorious strike means Madrid head into next weekend's Clasico trailing leaders Barcelona – who thrashed Eibar 5-0 earlier on Saturday – by two points and possibly without the injured Hazard.

Karim Benzema was particularly culpable in the first 45 minutes, spurning a glorious opportunity early on, while Hazard – who was withdraw with what appeared to be a calf issue in the second period – also squandered a presentable chance after half-time.

Levante became a more prominent threat going forward following the interval and ultimately sealed an unlikely win through Morales' fierce effort 11 minutes from time, with Madrid heading into the first leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter against Manchester City on the back of a woeful result.

Madrid rarely looked worried at the back in the first half, though going forward they lacked a killer instinct.

That was clearest in the 11th minute when Benzema should have put them in front, but he shot straight at Aitor Fernandez with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Fernandez was alert again just before half-time, this time parrying Luka Modric's stinging drive.

It was the same story after the break.

The previously ineffective Hazard had the opportunity to make a decisive impact in the 53rd minute when released through on goal, but he could not get the bouncing ball fully under control and his eventual effort was scuffed harmlessly at the approaching Fernandez.

Hazard had to be withdrawn in the 67th minute due to an apparent calf strain seemingly suffered while attempting a backheel, and Levante netted soon after.

Morales chased a long ball down the left flank on the break and caught it sweetly as it bounced up, beating Thibaut Courtois at his near post with the venomous strike as Madrid dropped points for a second successive LaLiga game after last weekend's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo.

Erick Pulgar's late penalty salvaged a 1-1 Serie A draw for 10-man Fiorentina against Milan on Saturday.

Fiorentina were heading for defeat at Stadio Artemio Franchi, but Asmir Begovic – on in place of the injured Gianluigi Donnarumma – was unable to keep out a Pulgar spot-kick five minutes from time after Alessio Romagnoli was adjudged to have fouled former Patrick Cutrone.

Pulgar's penalty cancelled out Ante Rebic's second-half opener, with the Croatia forward having netted his sixth goal in his last six Serie A appearances.

Matters looked even bleaker for Fiorentina when Dalbert was shown a red card for a foul on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but ultimately it was Milan who were left hanging on, Dusan Vlahovic and Martin Caceres missing late chances to win it.

 

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers insisted his side were denied a "clear penalty" in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at the King Power Stadium.

The hosts had a couple of appeals turned down in the first half for Ederson's challenge on Kelechi Iheanacho and a possible handball against Kevin De Bruyne.

Whereas De Bruyne got away with blocking James Maddison's free-kick with his arm, the officials pointed to the spot at the other end for a similar incident involving Dennis Praet.

Rodgers agreed referee Paul Tierney was right to award the visitors a penalty, which Sergio Aguero failed to convert, but felt Leicester should also have been given one of their own.

"[Praet] has gone to block it and it's a penalty - we accept that. But you hope you get them for you as well," he told Sky Sports.

"But we're disappointed we didn't get a penalty - it's so clear. I felt it was the reason VAR was brought in. 

"The ball was going towards the goal, the corner, and Kevin De Bruyne stops it. He's lifted his arms up. 

"If you look at the reaction of the other players in the wall, their hands were down. It's handball."

Kasper Schmeichel kept the champions at bay for large parts of the game by producing a string of fine saves, including a penalty save to frustrate Aguero.

City have now missed their last four top-flight penalties, each by a different player, but they were rescued by substitute Gabriel Jesus' late strike three minutes after he was introduced.

"They are incredibly quick with Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi," Guardiola said at his post-match news conference.

"It was an incredible test for us. I'm so pleased for the victory."

Guardiola's side face Real Madrid on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and the Catalan coach has been handed a big fitness boost.

Raheem Sterling has missed City's last two games with a hamstring injury, while Aymeric Laporte left the field early in the second half against Leicester, but both men could feature in Madrid.

"[Laporte] asked me to be substituted, but he's not injured," Guardiola said.

"He's been four months, five months injured, we can't forget that. He had to run a lot. It was different against West Ham, we could control it easier. But he's okay.

"Raheem is also much, much, much better. I think he'll be ready."

After Gabriel Jesus saw a penalty saved in a 1-0 win at Sheffield United in January, Pep Guardiola identified goalkeeper Ederson as Manchester City's best spot-kick option.

"Ederson is the best. Believe me, Eddie is the best taker we have on the penalties," said the City boss last month.

"He has no blood in his brains, he's so calm, so he could do it."

With Sergio Aguero seeing an effort from 12 yards stopped by Kasper Schmeichel in City's 1-0 victory at Leicester City on Saturday, Guardiola may now have to consider passing the duties to his keeper.

City have failed with four of their seven penalties in the Premier League this season, and here we reflect on their struggles in 2019-20.

August 10, 2019: Sergio Aguero v West Ham - SCORED

There were signs of what was to come for City from the spot this season even in an opening-day 5-0 win. Aguero netted City's fourth from 12 yards, but only after referee Mike Dean had ordered a retake for encroachment, Lukasz Fabianski having saved his tame initial effort.

September 21, 2019: Sergio Aguero v Watford - SCORED

Aguero needed no second invitation in City's 8-0 thrashing of Watford, scoring the second goal with a confident low penalty struck straight down the middle after team-mate Riyad Mahrez had been fouled by visiting goalkeeper Ben Foster.

December 21, 2019: Ilkay Gundogan v Leicester City - SCORED

Schmeichel was unfortunate not to deny Gundogan in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium, the Germany international just beating his outstretched arm to find the bottom-right corner and put the reigning league champions 2-1 up in an eventual 3-1 win prior to Christmas.

December 27, 2019: Raheem Sterling v Wolves - MISSED

The start of City's dreadful recent run of missed penalties began in a thrilling 3-2 defeat at Molineux. Sterling was given a second chance after Rui Patricio kept out his first attempt, with a retake ordered. The Portugal keeper denied him again, only for Sterling to tuck away the rebound.

January 21, 2020: Gabriel Jesus v Sheffield United - MISSED

The failure that sparked Guardiola's Ederson remarks saw Brazil international Jesus thwarted, Dean Henderson – on loan at the Blades from Manchester United, of course – moved to his right to palm clear with a diving, two-handed save.

February 2, 2020: Ilkay Gundogan v Tottenham - MISSED

Gundogan went for the same formula that saw him score against Leicester, but Hugo Lloris went low to his left to deny him in the first half, with claims for another penalty after the France international felled Sterling in pursuit of the rebound rejected following a VAR review.

February 22, 2020 Sergio Aguero v Leicester City - MISSED

Aguero placed the ball on the spot at the King Power Stadium after Dennis Praet was adjudged to have handled in the area. However, Schmeichel got the better of the Argentina striker, marking his fourth Premier League penalty save, one more than famous father Peter recorded while playing in the same competition.

Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City will score from their next penalty after his side missed yet another spot-kick in Saturday's late 1-0 win over Leicester City.

Sergio Aguero stepped up in the 62nd minute after Ilkay Gundogan's shot hit Dennis Praet's arm inside the box, but he failed to beat Kasper Schmeichel.

City have now missed each of their last four Premier League penalties, with Aguero joining Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling in failing to convert from 12 yards.

But Guardiola, who has previously suggested goalkeeper Ederson could take over spot-kick duties, is backing City to end their hoodoo soon enough.

"We have missed four penalties in a row, but maybe we will score one when we need it to win something," he told BBC Sport. 

"The [opposition] goalkeepers are good too, but the next one we are going to score!"

Despite Aguero's miss, City took all three points thanks to substitute Jesus' strike 10 minutes from time.

Jesus had only been on the pitch for three minutes, but clinically converted after being slipped in by former Leicester star Riyad Mahrez.

"Whenever I go on the field I try to help my team-mates by finding space," Jesus told Sky Sports.

"Riyad has a lot of quality and I thought 'go' because I know he has the quality to give me the ball. He played a very good ball and I scored."

City head to Real Madrid on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with some momentum on their side following back-to-back victories.

"The preparation after 12 days off was good," Guardiola added. "We have played two good games and it's good to prepare for Madrid with these good opponents. 

"We are playing the kings of the competition so we will see. We will try to enjoy it and do our game."

Diego Simeone sees no problem with Atletico Madrid's players celebrating their victory over Liverpool, though insisted he has not let his squad get carried away.

Atleti will take a 1-0 lead back to Anfield after Saul Niguez's early goal gave them a win in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against the Premier League leaders and defending European champions.

Clips were subsequently shared on social media following Atleti's win of their players celebrating the triumph during a recovery session.

This is no issue for Simeone, though the Argentinian – whose side sit fifth in LaLiga ahead of Sunday's clash with Villarreal – left little doubt that his team must keep their feet on the ground.

"I have always said that extremes are bad," Simeone told a news conference when asked about the criticism Atleti had received for celebrating their win, with Liverpool defender Andy Robertson having suggested the Spanish side were acting as if they had already won the tie.

"There are no extremes in the locker room. We have seen that people lived with the negative results and when we see positive results the opposite happens.

"But we know that LaLiga is long, that the Champions League is very hard and the balance is in maintaining consistency.

"In the same way that I am saddened by defeats, we must celebrate the victories. Liverpool was a first half. The second one remains."

Joao Felix has been included in the squad for Sunday's match and Simeone is thrilled to be able to have his record signing back in the group.

"What excites me is that they are all in the squad. That generates internal competition," Simeone said.

"When Joao Felix and [Diego] Costa have been away, [Angel] Correa and Vitolo played and this generated a lot of internal competition.

"It also happened with [Jose] Gimenez and [Stefan] Savic, with Felipe and [Mario] Hermoso. This internal competition generates growth and improvement."

Romain Ntamack says Six Nations leaders France are not discussing the prospect of winning a Grand Slam after he inspired a magnificent 27-23 victory over Wales.

Les Bleus ended a 10-year wait for a victory in Cardiff to outline their title credentials in a thriller at a raucous Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Fly-half Ntamack score a crucial intercept try in the second half following first-half scores from Anthony Bouthier and Paul Willemse.

Dan Biggar's 18-point haul was in vain as the defending champions suffered back-to-back defeats to leave their hopes of retaining the title in tatters.

France went on to complete a clean sweep after their last win in Wales back in 2010, which is the last time they won the tournament.

Ntamack, who was named man of the match after scoring 17 points and showing maturity way beyond his years, says they are not getting ahead of themselves in what has been a dream start to the Fabien Galthie era.

"It's amazing. We worked the whole week for a big game like that. It was a very tough game," he told BBC Sport.

"We have no experience, but we play with a smile. It was a good experience to win at the Principality.

"The try was a good moment. We don't think about the Grand Slam, we play match after match."

Captain Alun Wyn Jones says Wales only had themselves to blame.

"The scoreboard said they deserved it," he said. "You make your own luck sometimes and we fell short on the scoreboard.

"We gave them two penalties and they scored. In the second half, we had the ascendancy and we felt we should have got more out of that scrum. There was a case for a couple of penalty tries.

"They have a very good defence coach [former Wales defence guru Shaun Edwards] and were an embodiment of that today."

Aaron Ramsey felt right at home in a midfield three for Juventus as he scored what proved to be the winner against lowly SPAL.

In a game where Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 1,000th career appearance with the opening goal, it was Ramsey's strike that was decisive as SPAL went on to cut the deficit with a late penalty.

The Wales international confidently collected Paulo Dybala's incisive pass and lifted a deft finish over Etrit Berisha to score his first Serie A goal since September, moving Juve four points clear at the summit. 

Having often been employed in a more advanced role behind the strikers, Ramsey was pleased to settle into his rhythm as part of a midfield trio.

"Of course, this is my position, it's where I wanted to play when I came here, it's where I played my whole career," the former Arsenal player told Sky Sport Italia.

"I have the chance to make runs into the box and also score goals, so that is where I feel most comfortable."

Juve were not at their fluent best at Stadio Paolo Mazza on Saturday but got the job done against the division's rock-bottom side.

With a Champions League trip to Lyon and the visit of Inter for a crunch clash in the title race coming up next, Rasmey was pleased just to come away with the points.

"It's very big, it's always difficult to come to places like this," he said,

"It was important to stick at it, we got the three points. It's a big week for us and this is an excellent way to start."

 

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