Napoli have warned Eljif Elmas he could be punished for breaching a club media blackout after giving an interview while on international duty.

Twenty-year-old midfielder Elmas could face a costly rap after being quoted by various outlets during his time away with Macedonia, despite telling reporters Napoli could still vie for the Serie A title.

The Naples club appear to be in disarray after first-team players rebelled en masse and quit a training retreat earlier this month.

That getaway to nearby Castel Volturno was ordered by club president Aurelio De Laurentiis, following a run of disappointing results, but it was dramatically cut short after a Champions League match against Salzburg.

Napoli hinted at taking legal action against their own squad, saying on November 6 the club would "do everything in its power to protect its economic interests, assets, image rights and disciplinary interests", and ruling there would be no media communication "for the foreseeable future".

A goalless draw at home to Genoa followed for Carlo Ancelotti's team, leaving Napoli, who finished runners-up to Juventus last season, sitting seventh in Serie A.

In the latest twist, a statement attributed to head of communications Nicola Lombardo was posted by Napoli on Twitter, saying: "SSC Napoli can confirm that Eljif Elmas spoke to the press without the club's authorisation during the current media blackout.

"SSC Napoli therefore reserves the right to take action against the player."

Napoli's statement was issued barely half an hour before Elmas took to the pitch for Macedonia in their Euro 2020 qualifier against Austria.

In his interview, widely reported in Italy, Elmas said Juventus were well placed to win another Serie A title but added: "There are so many teams in the fight: Inter, Napoli and Roma. The battle will be uncertain until the end."

San Marino scored their first home goal in six years – and their first of any kind since 2017 – in Saturday's 3-1 Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Kazakhstan.

Placed 209th in the latest FIFA rankings, joint-bottom with Anguilla, San Marino's run without a goal on home soil stretched back 20 matches since a 5-1 loss against Poland in September 2013.

They had also failed to find the net home or away since Mirko Palazzi's consolation goal in a 5-1 reverse at the hands of Azerbaijan 26 months ago, suffering 9-0 defeats to Russia and Belgium and an 8-0 loss to Norway during that streak.

Those barren goalscoring runs ended in the qualifying clash with Kazakhstan in Serravalle thanks to Filippo Berardi's second-half strike.

The 22-year-old winger, who plies his club trade for Serie C side Vibonese, rounded opposition goalkeeper Dmytro Nepogodov after latching onto a throughball and slotted into an empty net.

San Marino, 3-0 down at the time of the goal, remain bottom of Group I without a point and with a goal difference of -45 from their nine matches.

They have lost 35 competitive games in a row since a 0-0 draw with Estonia in Euro 2016 qualifying five years ago.

Eden Hazard scored twice and teed up his younger brother Thorgan for a goal as Belgium maintained their 100 per cent record in Euro 2020 qualifying with a 4-1 win in Russia.

Roberto Martinez's men made light work of a Russia side that went into the game on the back of seven consecutive victories in which they conceded just once.

Coach Stanislav Cherchesov stood and watched as his defence was run ragged by the Hazard brothers and by Dries Mertens and Kevin De Bruyne, who controlled the game from midfield.

Romelu Lukaku scored the final goal of a victory that moves Belgium six points clear at the top of Group I with nine wins from nine games, Russia's consolation strike from Georgi Dzhikiya the only fly in the ointment for Martinez.

Lukaku's feet seemed to get stuck in the turf when Eden Hazard's pull-back found him unmarked in the box early on, but moments later Thorgan Hazard made amends after being played into the box by his older brother.

The Borussia Dortmund winger jinked inside Mario Fernandes before scoring with a clean strike that flew into the top corner of Guilherme's net.

Lukaku's well-judged knock-down presented the unmarked Eden Hazard with a chance to double Belgium's lead from the edge of the box and the Real Madrid man made no mistake, beating Guilherme for power with his clinical low drive.

Russia were pulled apart for the third, which arrived in the 40th minute when Mertens' weighted pass released De Bruyne, who strode through a huge gap in the hosts' defence and drew Guilherme before squaring to Eden Hazard for a simple finish.

Thorgan Hazard played Mertens in for what looked like a certain goal early in the second half but the Napoli man fired tamely at Guilherme before leaving the field clutching his hamstring.

The loss of Mertens did not stop Belgium from chasing a fourth, which came courtesy of Lukaku's surge across the edge of the box and a thunderous low finish from the Inter striker.

Thibaut Courtois could only parry Dmitry Kuzyaev's shot into the path of Dzhikiya 11 minutes from time, but his side-footed shot into the unguarded net did little to take the sheen off a fine Belgium win.


What does it mean? Deja vu for Cherchesov's men

Russia are the only side to score against Belgium in qualifying, with Denis Cheryshev's goal in a 3-1 defeat in March and Dzhikiya's consolation strike here the sum total conceded by a steely Belgium defence, and this game was not far from a repeat of the March encounter.

Russia caught in the Hazards

The constant endeavour of Thorgan and Eden Hazard down the Belgian left caused Russia problems throughout the first half and their lethal finishing all but settled the match.

Wasteful Dzyuba highlights Cheryshev absence

Russia could have been ahead after five minutes but Artem Dzyuba headed wide from six yards and committed a foul in the process, squandering his side's chance to take an early lead.

What's next?

Belgium entertain Cyprus in Brussels on Tuesday, while Russia travel to San Marino to face Group I's stragglers.

Wales eased to a 2-0 win over Group E's bottom side Azerbaijan in Baku on Saturday to ensure their Euro 2020 qualification bid will go down to the wire.

Kieffer Moore scored for the second away game running to get Ryan Giggs' side off the mark inside 10 minutes and Harry Wilson - on target in Wales' last away win 11 months ago - added a second before half-time.

Despite creating chances there were no further goals for the visitors, who are already guaranteed the cushion of at least a play-off place, regardless of where they finish in their qualifying group.

Wales are now unbeaten in five games since back-to-back away losses in June and are within a point of second-place Hungary, who they face in their final qualifier on Tuesday, while Slovakia are a point behind and have a game in hand to play.

Azerbaijan have just one point from their seven group matches and were behind early on through Moore's back-post header, the Wales striker leaping highest to meet Wilson's whipped corner.

Emil Balayev produced a good save to deny Moore a second goal but there was no keeping out Wilson, who headed home the rebound after Daniel James' curled shot from distance struck the crossbar and then the post.

Wales thought they had a third goal five minutes into the second half when Tom Lockyer headed in from close range, only for the referee to rule it out for Ethan Ampadu's shove on Balayev.

Wilson was next to be denied by Balayev with an angled drive just before the hour mark, while Moore was wayward with a couple of efforts as Wales were made to settle for just the two goals.

What does it mean? Wales remain on course

This first away win in over a year for Wales lifts them a point above Slovakia, who face Group E leaders Croatia in their game in hand later on Saturday, and a point behind next opponents Hungary.

Giggs' men require a victory against Hungary in Cardiff on Tuesday to automatically qualify for Euro 2020, though maximum points for Slovakia from their two remaining matches would render that result immaterial.

Moore making big impact

Wigan Athletic striker Moore only earned his first cap for Wales in September but has played a huge part in their recent revival.

He scored his maiden international goal in the 1-1 away draw with Slovakia last month and doubled his personal tally with his early header here to settle any lingering Welsh nerves.

Bale on the periphery

Bale has not played for club or country in a month and that showed as he completed just 11 passes before being replaced by Aaron Ramsey - himself not fully fit - with an hour played.

What's next?

Wales welcome second-place Hungary to the Cardiff City Stadium in a crucial clash on Tuesday, while Azerbaijan conclude their campaign with a trip to Slovakia the same day.

Neymar, Thomas Meunier, Keylor Navas and Marco Verratti are all expected back in Paris Saint-Germain training next week following injuries.

PSG had previously announced Neymar was due to resume training this week, having been out since the previous international break with a hamstring injury.

He is instead now set to return in the coming days, alongside Thomas Meunier, who has also been dealing with a hamstring issue.

Navas should likewise be back among the squad in the next seven days as he recovers from a thigh injury which forced him out of last weekend's win at Brest.

The former Real Madrid man had crucially saved a penalty against Club Brugge in the Champions League three days earlier.

Verratti has had an injury to the back of his right knee, keeping him out of international action for Italy, but is hoping to train by the end of next week.

Karim Benzema has told French football chief Noel Le Graet to stop interfering after claiming the Real Madrid striker would never play for his country again.

The 31-year-old last turned out for Les Bleus in a 4-0 win over Armenia in October 2015, since when he has been conspicuous by his absence from every squad selected.

Despite being a talisman for one of the biggest clubs in world football, the door appears closed to Benzema when it comes to Didier Deschamps' France team.

Since 2015, Benzema has strenuously denied any wrongdoing in an alleged attempt to blackmail former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

He has not played for France since the allegations were made, and that appears unlikely to change whatever the circumstances after Le Graet this week vowed a Benzema recall was out of the question.

Le Graet spoke out days after Real Madrid's French boss Zinedine Zidane said Benzema should "definitely" be recalled by Deschamps.

"Karim Benzema is a very good player, I've never doubted his qualities," French Football Federation president Le Graet told RMC Sport. "On the contrary, he shows with Real Madrid that he is one of the best players in his position. But the adventure with France is finished."

That prompted a seething response from Benzema, who wrote on Twitter: "Noel I thought that you wouldn't interfere in the coach's decisions!

"[You should] know that it's me and me alone who will put an end to my international career.

"If you think I'm finished, let me play for one of the countries for which I'm eligible and we'll see."

Benzema, who comes from Algerian heritage, scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for France before being sidelined from the national team.

With Real Madrid he has won a host of trophies, including the Champions League on four occasions, and with nine goals this season he is LaLiga's top scorer.

World champions France play Albania on Sunday in their final Euro 2020 qualifier, already assured of a place at next year's finals.

Kosovo coach Bernard Challandes believes Raheem Sterling is so good a broken leg is one of the only ways to stop the England star, but added his team are "too nice" for that.

Sterling will return to the England team for their final Euro 2020 qualifier at Kosovo on Sunday, having sat out the midweek win over Montenegro following a confrontation with team-mate Joe Gomez.

The Manchester City winger scored one and created three more as Kosovo were beaten 5-3 at St Mary's Stadium earlier in the campaign.

Challandes is not enthused by the prospect of Sterling returning with a point to prove this weekend, yet he insists his side will not resort to rough tactics.

"The bad news for us is that Sterling will play," Challandes told a pre-match news conference. "He is one of the best in the world in his position.

"But [Marcus] Rashford is great, [Harry] Kane, [Tammy] Abraham - England have a lot of great players. Whether we play against Sterling or not, we have to play a superb match.

"We are not dealing with individuals but with the team as a whole, so we will be preparing for England.

"How to stop Sterling? Maybe we break his leg, but it's not our style. We are too nice. But we have a good team, as we have shown in this qualification campaign."

The 7-0 win over Montenegro that booked England's place at Euro 2020 meant Gareth Southgate's men were top of the scoring charts in qualification prior to Saturday's games.

The Three Lions' goal-hungry attack concerns Challandes, who added: "England have tremendous offensive potential, scoring many goals and winning 7-0, 6-0 and 5-0.

"For us, it is a challenge, an incredible challenge. As a coach, I can enjoy this game but, of course, I am a little bit scared.

"This is the 1001st match for England, and it is the 29th for us. They have a little bit more experience than we do."

Xabi Alonso has revealed he left Real Madrid for Bayern Munich because he was "curious" to find out Pep Guardiola's coaching secrets.

The 37-year-old swapped clubs in 2014 after five seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he won six major trophies.

Alonso left Madrid three months after helping them to Champions League glory and went on to spend three years with Bayern before announcing his playing retirement.

Explaining his reasons for wanting to leave the Spanish giants, Alonso told The Athletic: "I was so curious to find out [Guardiola's] secrets.

"He has a relentless natural enthusiasm. Football seasons are long but right until the very end, Pep never seemed to be tired. 

"He was alert, always ready. For the players, maybe this gave us an extra few metres in our legs when it mattered most."

Alonso, who took over as Real Sociedad B head coach in June, also praised the work of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

The former Spain international, who played against Klopp's Borussia Dortmund side during his time at Madrid and Bayern, said: "I didn't enjoy playing against them because they made it so intense, you'd almost break.

"It was like he wanted you to be in a cage. He wanted to trap you. There was an organised pressure. I was under pressure all the time. 

"I enjoyed the mood around those games because they were so important but the challenge of beating Dortmund was immense."

Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic suffered a thigh injury against Italy on Friday, Bosnia-Herzegovina have confirmed.

Pjanic has been in impressive form for Juve in Serie A this season but pulled up in a 1-1 draw against Lecce in October, returning in the Turin derby at the start of this month.

He looks to have suffered another setback after being substituted with 13 minutes remaining of a 3-0 home Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Italy.

Bosnia confirmed on Saturday the 29-year-old would miss their trip to Liechtenstein on Monday, leaving Juve with a fitness concern ahead of a tough test against Atalanta next weekend.

"National team players Miralem Pjanic and Luka Menalo will miss the team's next match against Liechtenstein due to injuries," Bosnia's statement read.

"Pjanic has an adductor injury, while Menalo has an ankle injury."

Ryan Christie acknowledged Scotland were fortunate to survive an early scare against Cyprus, who looked to have taken the lead inside six minutes on Saturday.

Scotland won 2-1 in Nicosia to leapfrog Cyprus into third in Euro 2020 qualification Group I, although neither side can progress automatically to the finals.

The visitors could have been behind before Christie netted his first international goal after 12 minutes, however, as Giorgios Efrem's shot against the crossbar appeared to bounce over the goal line.

No goal was given, allowing Christie to break the deadlock. Efrem later equalised but John McGinn's swift riposte clinched the points.

Reflecting on the incident, Christie told Sky Sports: "From where I was, to be honest, it looked over the line. I've obviously not seen it back yet.

"We rode our luck a bit there in the first 10 minutes. It probably took us longer than we wanted to feel our way into the game.

"After that scare, we got to grips with the game. The goal came and, from there, we were pretty resilient."

He added of his first Scotland goal: "I'm delighted, obviously.

"It's something I've been desperate to do every time I've played for Scotland, and it's probably taken me longer than I wanted. It's nice to get it in a win, as well."

Scotland play Kazakhstan on Tuesday but are already looking towards a home play-off semi-final in March 2020, where McGinn hopes their belief will be boosted by wins such as these.

"There's a lot of new faces in the squad," the in-form Aston Villa midfielder said. "That's a game we might have drawn or lost in recent times, so it's important we get a winning mentality in games like that.

"Even though it wasn't pretty towards the end, it's so important as we build towards March.

Romelu Lukaku claimed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to keep him at Manchester United, contradicting the Red Devils manager's claim he was happy to let the Belgian international join Inter in August.

Solskjaer told Sky Sports that starting the season a striker short due to Lukaku's departure was "the decision that I made and I made it happily", but Lukaku said there was a time when the move did not have the United boss' approval.

Inter paid United £74million on the final day of the Premier League transfer window in August, ending months of speculation over the striker's future.

But in an interview with Het Belang van Limburg, Lukaku said his departure was decided as early as March.

"Solskjaer has my eternal respect," said Lukaku.

"He understood me when I said in March that it was time for me to leave.

"I had been in the Premier League as an 18-year-old boy and now I am 26. Solskjaer wanted to keep me, but I was ready for something new."

I called game pic.twitter.com/cvxaifdV3w

— R.Lukaku Bolingoli9 (@RomeluLukaku9) November 2, 2019

Lukaku has scored nine goals in 12 Serie A appearances for Inter, but was subjected to racist abuse by Cagliari fans in September.

He said he knew what to expect when he arrived in Italy, and insisted he is enjoying his time in Milan.

"I knew it would happen," said Lukaku.

"I was prepared because I had spoken to other footballers about it.

"But I'm having a good time in Italy. The people on the street are very good to me and it's on that, that I want to focus."

Ryan Christie and John McGinn fired a weakened Scotland side to a 2-1 win and a home-and-away double over Cyprus in Euro 2020 qualification on Saturday.

Neither team could progress from Group I following their respective humbling defeats to Russia last month, yet Scotland have a home play-off semi-final to come in March 2020.

They moved above hosts Cyprus into third in the standings here, too, victorious despite the absence of big names Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay and Ryan Fraser.

Christie's first international goal put Scotland ahead after 12 minutes, before Giorgios Efrem equalised and McGinn hit back in the space of six second-half-minutes, seeing Scotland to a second 2-1 win over Cyprus in this campaign.

Cyprus came agonisingly close to opening the scoring inside six minutes as former Rangers winger Efrem smartly worked space inside the area and crashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar.

The ball seemingly bounced over the line but, with no technology to assist the officials, was not awarded as a goal.

There was no stopping the opener that followed at the other end, with Christie darting inside from the right and curling a glorious left-footed effort in from 20 yards.

Even better was to come from Efrem at the start of the second half, however, as he met a half-cleared set-piece with a sweetly struck volley that faded away from David Marshall into the top-right corner.

It proved merely a momentary setback for Scotland and they soon led again through McGinn, meeting Greg Taylor's cross and directing a left-footed finish past Urko Pardo.

Ioannis Kosti should have levelled matters again but sent a stooping header just wide, while Fotios Papoulis was guilty of a glaring stoppage-time miss as Scotland held on.

 

What does it mean? Positives to take into play-offs

Scotland's hopes of reaching Euro 2020 now rest on getting the better of sides of a similar stature in the play-offs, making this victory against Cyprus - also in Nations League C - all the more encouraging. Steve Clarke's men should certainly fancy their chances of reaching the finals if the likes of Robertson and McTominay are able to return next year.

Christie off the mark

Perhaps understandably given the absent stars, Scotland lacked fluidity in possession early on. However, Christie impressed again, netting with a fine strike. His two assists against San Marino last month included a seemingly goal-bound effort that McGinn touched in, but the winger was not be denied a maiden international effort this time.

McKenna off the boil

Scotland had Declan Gallagher making his debut at the heart of the defence, yet Scott McKenna looked the more uncertain of the two centre-backs. McKenna was sold hopelessly by Efrem's dummy prior to the shot that should have seen Cyprus in front, before the Aberdeen man's rash lunge led to the free-kick from which the hosts equalised.

What's next?

This stage of qualification ends for these two sides on Tuesday, as Scotland host Kazakhstan while Cyprus visit Belgium. However, Clarke's side have at least one more match still to come in the play-offs in March.

Cardiff City have appointed former Millwall boss Neil Harris as the club's new manager on a two-and-a-half-year contract following the departure of Neil Warnock.

Harris takes over with the Bluebirds 14th in the Championship after winning just one of their past six matches – a run that culminated in Warnock leaving the club by mutual consent.

During a four-year spell in charge of Millwall, Harris helped the club to promotion from League One via the play-offs in 2016-17, but he resigned on October 3 following a run of seven winless matches.

Cardiff said in a statement on Saturday: "Cardiff City FC can confirm the appointment of Neil Harris as the club's first-team manager.

"The 42-year-old has signed a deal at Cardiff City Stadium running until the summer of 2022.

"David Livermore joins Neil in the dugout as assistant manager, while James Rowberry and Andy Dibble continue in the back-room team as first-team coach and goalkeeping coach, respectively.

"Kevin Blackwell and Ronnie Jepson depart the Welsh capital with the club's sincere thanks and best wishes.

"Neil will oversee training at the Vale Resort on Monday ahead of his first City match away to Charlton Athletic on Saturday, November 23."

Inter received a letter containing threats against head coach Antonio Conte and have informed the relevant authorities, the club confirmed in a widely distributed statement.

Reports claimed the letter, which arrived at Inter's headquarters in Milan, contained a bullet along with references to the former Chelsea boss.

Inter are second in Serie A following a five-game unbeaten run, including victories in their last three league matches.

The club's statement contradicted some reports that indicated the letter was sent directly to Conte.

"In relation to the news published today, Antonio Conte has not personally received any threatening letter," the statement said.

"Consequently, he did not go in person to file a complaint.

"It was the club that received a letter and, as per the practice in this kind of situation, proceeded to contact the competent authorities."

Inter's next fixture sees them travel to Torino for a Serie A clash on November 23.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has informed Bologna of his willingness to consider joining them in January, according to the Serie A side's sporting director Riccardo Bigon.

Ibrahimovic this week confirmed his departure from LA Galaxy after two seasons in MLS.

The 38-year-old intends to see out his career in Italy, Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto claimed, and will not be short on options given his free agent status.

AC Milan, Fiorentina and Napoli are among those to have been linked but Bologna could have the inside running thanks to Ibrahimovic's rapport with Rossoblu boss Sinisa Mihajlovic, who crossed paths with the Swede at Inter.

"There is a month and a half to go until to the transfer window opens," Bigon told Sky Sport Italia.

"As has been said, Ibrahimovic and the coach have a strong personal relationship.

"He expressed an openness to the idea of ​​coming to Bologna but now he will take time, after announcing the farewell to MLS, to evaluate all the possibilities for his future.

"We are very fascinated by this situation but it is clear that we do not control it 100 per cent.

"The choice is exclusively down to the player. We will wait in case [Ibrahimovic confirms his interest], then we will be ready and more than positive."

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