Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca said the club will not rush Nicolo Zaniolo after the Italian star made his long-awaited comeback from injury.

Zaniolo has flourished in the Italian capital since arriving from rivals Inter in 2018 but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in January.

However, the 21-year-old returned to action on Sunday – coming off the bench in the 66th minute of Roma's 2-1 Serie A loss to Napoli in a huge boost for Fonseca's side.

"He had no more than 30 minutes, slowly he will become important again," Fonseca said post-match.

"He entered a difficult moment but tried to help the team. Soon Zaniolo will be ready to help the team."

Fonseca added: "It has been a positive moment, it has been a long time out and he is not yet in the best conditions to play many minutes. 

"However, it was important for him to come back against a great team. Let's see how he responds during the week, we must be careful of this moment. Let's not forget that he's been out for a long time."

Roma lost their third consecutive game to be sixth in the Serie A table with eight matches remaining.

Antonio Conte hopes Inter players feel at least "one per cent" of his disappointment following their 2-1 Serie A defeat to Bologna at San Siro on Sunday.

Inter had forged ahead in the first half courtesy of Romelu Lukaku before Bologna's Roberto Soriano received a red card for dissent after 57 minutes. 

Lautaro Martinez could have all but wrapped up the win from the penalty spot five minutes later but Lukasz Skorupski kept out his tame effort.

That gave the impetus to the visitors, who roared back to steal a stunning winning thanks to goals in the final 16 minutes from Musa Juwara and Musa Barrow, either side of a red card for Inter's Alessandro Bastoni.

Conte, who spent close to an hour in the changing room with his side before talking to the media, could not hide his frustration and says his players should be angry at their display.

"The disappointment is enormous, at least as far as I'm concerned," he told reporters. "I hope this disappointment that I feel is also felt by the players for at least one per cent. 

"I am angry at myself because I'm the manager. I have my responsibilities; I am the one who directs the situation and it is right that I am very angry first of all with myself. Then I think that the players must also be with themselves."

The setback leaves Conte's side four points behind second-placed Lazio and just one ahead of Atalanta in the battle for Champions League qualification.

Conte is under no illusions that he is expected to win trophies at Inter and says he fully expects to be scrutinised when things do not go well.

"Situations are evaluated only by facing them," he added. 

"For me this is the first year of working with Inter and I have taken a situation with many situations to improve. At the same time, I also say that it is right to challenge everyone, me first. 

"I was brought here for a winning project and to bring Inter back to winning things. Clearly, the victory does not come overnight, but many situations leave a lot of bitterness. You think you are at a level and instead you are at a much lower level. 

"From here to the end we will all have to prove that we deserve Inter. Otherwise it is right to make other decisions too."

Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta insists Lautaro Martinez has "not shown the slightest desire to leave" amid continued speculation Barcelona are interested in the Argentina international.

Martinez, who missed a penalty in Inter's 2-1 Serie A defeat to Bologna on Sunday, has been strongly tipped to make a move to Camp Nou at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Marotta was again asked about the forward prior to the defeat at San Siro and he reiterated Inter's desire to hold on to the 22-year-old.  

"Lautaro has not shown the slightest desire to leave," Marotta told DAZN.

"Aside from dates and deadlines, the clearest situation is that Inter do not want to sell their champions or interesting young talents. If the player were to ask to leave, we would evaluate that together, but so far, that request has not arrived.

"I believe that, being a young player, it can boost his career to continue playing for a while longer at Inter.

"Being an Inter player means being part of a big club and that ought to be reason enough for him to feel proud."

Marotta also dismissed rumours Inter have lodged a bid for Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri.

"I understand the many questions about transfer speculation, but I can say we have not had any contact or opened any negotiation for Emerson Palmieri.

"We are making evaluations for next season, but the most important issue remains this current campaign."

Lautaro Martinez's missed penalty cost Inter dearly as Bologna staged a superb second-half comeback to seal a stunning 2-1 win at San Siro on Sunday. 

Romelu Lukaku had given Inter a first-half lead with his 20th Serie A goal of the season before Bologna's Roberto Soriano received a red card for dissent after 57 minutes. 

Martinez then squandered a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 five minutes later, striking his attempt from the spot straight at Lukasz Skorupski. 

The visitors took full advantage of that reprieve, scoring through Musa Juwara and Musa Barrow inside the final 16 minutes to seal a memorable away win over the Nerazzurri, who had Alessandro Bastoni dismissed for two bookable offences.

Mario Mandzukic is a free agent after the Croatian forward confirmed he has terminated his contract with Al-Duhail.

The 34-year-old only moved to Qatar in December after falling out of favour at Juventus, where he won four Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia on three occasions.

However, Mandzukic announced on Twitter that he had cut short his deal by mutual consent, adding: "I appreciate the trust and hospitality that I have received in Qatar and I wish the best to the club and the team in the future."

A return to Serie A could be a possibility - both ambitious Benevento and Milan have been rumoured as potential destinations - while he has also been linked to Turkish duo Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.

Prior to his successful stint with Juventus, Mandzukic played in the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich - where he won the Champions League in 2013 - and Wolfsburg, as well as spending a season at Atletico Madrid in LaLiga.

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

Simone Inzaghi acknowledged Lazio's Serie A title chances have been dealt a blow after losing 3-0 to Milan but insisted the Scudetto hopefuls will not give up.

Lazio were comprehensively beaten by visiting Milan in Rome on Saturday as Inzaghi's men fell seven points adrift of leaders and defending champions Juventus.

Without leading goalscorer Ciro Immobile and Felipe Caicedo due to suspension, Lazio's Scudetto dream was derailed by Hakan Calhanoglu, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic at Stadio Olimpico – Milan leading 2-0 at half-time.

Lazio – eyeing their first league crown since 2000 – face an uphill battle overhauling Juve with eight matches remaining in 2019-20, while Inter could move within a point of second spot by beating Bologna on Sunday.

"This defeat weighs on us in the table, but we knew that there were some objective difficulties today," Lazio head coach Inzaghi told DAZN. "We weren't very fortunate either, as we conceded a goal with a deflection, another on a penalty that Thomas Strakosha almost saved.

"Then we had two chances to get it back on track, only to concede the third goal. Unfortunately, I can't rotate the squad right now, so playing four games in under two weeks becomes difficult.

"We've got to look forward and prepare for the next match. We know the journey we have taken and have no intention of letting go. We'll probably lose [Joaquin] Correa to injury for the next one, we must try to rotate a little, because these lads are now very tired."

"Correa has been struggling with a calf problem for a few weeks," added Inzaghi. "If Caicedo and Immobile weren't suspended, he wouldn't have played today. Lucas Leiva had his first appearance today after just 25 minutes of training. We only made the decision after a fitness test this morning.

"Bobby Adekanye hadn't played for 25 days either, [Sergej] Milinkovic-Savic and Correa told me they weren't feeling right. It was difficult against Milan in these circumstances. Even then I have to think we could’ve got back into it at 2-1.

"Initially, Luis Alberto was meant to be in support of Correa, but we were lacking a physical presence and hadn't really used this tactic without Immobile. If we'd had Adekanye in training during the week, I probably would've started him, as he is at least a centre-forward."

It was a return to form for Milan, who faced defeat before rallying to earn a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened SPAL last time out.

Milan – with Ibrahimovic back in the line-up – dominated against Lazio as they stayed on track to qualify for the Europa League next season.

"We work really well at Milanello, I always said that I had a group of responsible players who are aware of the importance of the shirt they are wearing," said Milan boss Stefano Pioli, who is tipped to be replaced by Ralf Rangnick at the end of the campaign. "I don't know what will happen with our future, with my future, but we are too concentrated on fighting to the end so we can at least get Milan back into the Europa League.

"We won't get the Champions League now, but Milan are a prestigious club and have to be in European competition.

"The players are continuing to give 110 per cent, even those who signed contracts to the end of the season and probably won't remain here after that. They are determined to prove they are still strong players at this level and to give their best for Milan."

Ibrahimovic, who has recovered from a calf injury, converted a first-half penalty to take his tally to five goals since returning to Milan from LA Galaxy in January.

"Ibra has allowed us to grow in terms of mentality, quality, technique, it's a real pleasure to work with him and see how he deals with his team-mates," added Pioli, whose Milan host Juve on Tuesday. "Now we've got a month left and can continue pushing all the way."

Maurizio Sarri said the only suitable way to hail Gianluigi Buffon is with applause after the veteran goalkeeper set a new Serie A record on Saturday.

Buffon made his 648th appearance in Italy's top flight as Juve cruised to a 4-1 victory over Torino in the Turin derby, breaking the record previously set by his former Italy team-mate Paolo Maldini.

Juve's victory and Lazio's subsequent defeat to Milan means Sarri's side are now seven points clear at the top of Serie A with eight matches remaining.

But when asked to describe Buffon, who signed a one-year extension with Juve in June, Sarri said the 42-year-old can only be applauded, with his legendary status already assured.

"Everyone can just congratulate with Buffon for what he did during his career," Sarri said in a news conference.

"He's a legend. No words needed, just applause. That's how we welcomed him in the changing room today, no words needed. Look at his numbers, he is a legend."

One player who will be leaving Juve at the end of the season is Miralem Pjanic, the midfielder heading to Barcelona with Artur coming the other way.

Pjanic was taken off shortly after half-time in the derby, but Sarri insisted it was not to do with his performance, but instead related to a booking the playmaker had received towards the end of the first half, with Torino then pulling one back to make it 2-1 in stoppage time.

"Pjanic received the yellow card and he was one I was the most nervous on the pitch because the penalty given to Torino," Sarri added.

"That's why I decided to change him, I didn't want to risk [a sending off]."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on target again as Milan beat Lazio 3-0 at Stadio Olimpico to derail their opponents' Scudetto hopes.

Juve moved seven points clear at the summit with a 4-1 win over rivals Torino earlier on Saturday and Lazio were unable to close the gap in their game in hand.

Lazio had not lost in 16 home games since September 2017 but were two down at half-time - Ibrahimovic scoring a penalty after setting up Hakan Calhanoglu for the opener.

Ante Rebic added a third for Europe-chasing Milan in the second half as Lazio, without leading goalscorer Ciro Immobile, fell to just a second loss in 25 league matches.

Calhanoglu continued his good form since the restart by opening the scoring after 23 minutes, the midfielder's strike deflecting off Marco Parolo to help it over Thomas Strakosha.

Ibrahimovic had a goal ruled out for offside but did not have to wait long to score from the penalty spot after Alexis Saelemaekers' cross struck Stefan Radu's hand.

Strakosha got a hand to the spot-kick 11 minutes before the break but it squirmed under his body to leave Lazio, who recovered from a goal down to beat Fiorentina in midweek, with a big mountain to climb.

Manuel Lazzari thought that he had started a second-half comeback when he drilled home, only for the offside flag to deny him, and further misery followed when Rebic added a third goal.

The Croatia international took Giacomo Bonaventura's pass in his stride and swept past Strakosha for his ninth league goal of the season.

Milan should have added a fourth late on but Theo Hernandez missed a sitter, having earlier been denied by Strakosha following an impressive run.
 

What does it mean? Lazio's Scudetto hopes all but over

Lazio's slim Scudetto hopes are surely all over as this loss leaves them seven points adrift of leaders Juventus with eight games to go.

As for Milan, they now have 10 points from a possible 12 since the restart - the exception being a disappointing 2-2 draw with SPAL last time out - and are in sixth place.

Zlat is back

Ibrahimovic now has two goals in two starts since recovering from an injury during the lockdown that many feared would bring a premature end to his career.

He may have got a bit of luck with the penalty - Strakosha really should have kept it out - but he made his presence felt and also teed up Calhanoglu's opener.

Immobile absence is felt

Lazio were without Immobile for the first time in Serie A this season, while fellow forward Felipe Caicedo was also suspended.

Joaquin Correa and Luis Alberto had nowhere the same impact, managing just one shot on target between them.

What's next?

Milan host league leaders Juventus on Tuesday, the same day that Lazio, who will hope Stefano Pioli's men can do them a favour, travel to relegation-threatened Lecce.

Cristiano Ronaldo admitted to feeling a sense of relief after scoring from a free-kick in Juventus' 4-1 win over Torino on Saturday. 

Juve were comfortable winners in the derby and Ronaldo played a major role in their triumph, setting up Juan Cuadrado's goal before then making it 3-1, with Paulo Dybala having initially opened the scoring early on. 

Koffi Djidji's late own goal summed up the visitors' haplessness as he turned Douglas Costa's cross past Salvatore Sirigu, with Juve opening up a seven-point lead over Lazio at the summit. 

Ronaldo's stunning strike was his first direct free-kick goal in 43 attempts at Juve, and he acknowledged that his profligacy from such situations had been weighing on his mind. 

"I really needed that free-kick so I could get a bit of confidence [from free-kicks] back," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"[But] the important thing is to win regardless of who scores, be it Cristiano or Dybala. It is very important to win, but the truth is that we are doing well, Dybala and me, but the team is also doing very well, we are improving our confidence and against Milan we will try to win. "

It had not dawned on Maurizio Sarri how much such a goal mattered to Ronaldo either.

He added: "I didn't think he was suffering from the lack of a free-kick goal, but then he said 'finally' and then I understood he was."

Juve are next in action on Tuesday as they go to Milan in Serie A.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning goal and provided an assist as Juventus eased to a 4-1 derby win over Torino to open up a seven-point lead at the top of Serie A.

Ronaldo was by no means a constant nuisance to the Torino defence, but the Portugal great turned it on when he needed to, setting up Juan Cuadrado before scoring a brilliant goal of his own on Saturday.

Juve made a lightning start and opened the scoring through a fine Paulo Dybala effort, before Ronaldo teed up Cuadrado – who set up the opener – for their second at the Allianz Stadium.

An Andrea Belotti penalty gave the visitors a lifeline just before half-time, Gianluigi Buffon beaten in his record 648th Serie A appearance.

But Ronaldo struck with a wonderful free-kick in the 61st minute and Koffi Djidji's own goal added to Torino's misery as Juve put further pressure on second-placed Lazio ahead of their clash with Milan.

It took Juve just three minutes to take charge of the encounter, as Cuadrado found Dybala in the box and the Argentinian's quick feet saw him weave past two defenders before slotting home.

Cuadrado was involved again just before the half-hour mark, this time jinking on to his right foot and finishing emphatically after Ronaldo led a counter and set the winger up.

But Torino pulled one back on the stroke of half-time – Belotti slotting a penalty past Buffon after Matthijs de Ligt blocked Simone Verdi's initial shot with his arm.

Torino briefly thought they had levelled early in the second half, but Belotti had strayed offside in the build-up.

Juve increased their advantage just past the hour-mark, as Ronaldo stepped up to a 30-yard free-kick and sent an unstoppable effort into the top-left corner.

The visitors' haplessness was summed up by Djidji's late own goal, the defender turning Douglas Costa's cross past Salvatore Sirigu.

What does it mean? Juve a step closer to the title

Although derby clashes generally produce plenty of unpredictability, contests between these two rarely lead to surprises. After all, before Saturday, Juve last lost at home to Torino in April 1995.

Nevertheless, it was still another hurdle to pass and Juve managed to deal with Torino with minimal fuss.

Ronaldo does what was required

As a player who has produced countless memorable performances across his career, no one will claim this was among the standouts – but you cannot argue he was effective, as he set up Cuadrado and netted his first free-kick for Juve.

A day to forget for Lyanco

Torino centre-back Lyanco will want to forget about this performance quickly. While not necessarily guilty of gifting any goals away, he will be disappointed he could not do more for Juve's first two.

What's next?

Juve go to Milan on Tuesday, while Torino host Brescia the following day.

Gianluigi Buffon broke Paolo Maldini's record for Serie A appearances in Saturday's Turin derby, playing for the 648th time in Italy's top flight.

Buffon, 41, was an Italy team-mate of former Milan defender Maldini, who retired in 2009 at the age of 40.

The iconic goalkeeper broke in the Parma first team as a teenager before joining Juve in 2001 in a £32.6million deal, making him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper at the time.

It proved to be money well invested as he spent 17 years in a first spell with the Turin giants, staying at the club following relegation amid Italian football's Calciopoli scandal and helping Juventus reel off seven successive Scudetti before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2018.

After a year in France, Buffon returned to Juventus last July, competing with Wojciech Szczesny for the starting role in Maurizio Sarri's team since then.

Below, we have used Opta data to highlight the remarkable longevity of Buffon's career.

17 – Buffon made his Serie A debut for Parma on November 19, 1995 at the age of 17 years and 295 days. It was a 0-0 draw against Milan.

648 – Since then, Buffon has gone on to rack up 648 appearances in Italy's top flight, including Saturday's clash with Torino that has seen him break Maldini's record.

42 – Buffon is the third-oldest player to feature in Serie A during the three-points era, behind only Marco Ballotta (44 years, 38 days) and Francesco Antonelli (42 years, 235 days).

23 – This is Buffon's 23rd season in professional football. Having signed a new contract, he will play a 24th campaign in 2020-21.

247 – Giorgio Chiellini signed a new contract at the same time as Buffon. The centre-back is the player Buffon has most regularly played with in Serie A, 247 times.

480 – No one has played more Serie A games for Juventus, with Buffon's 480 two more than Alessandro del Piero's haul.

9 – Buffon has won nine Serie A titles, more than any other player. He could yet add a 10th later this month.

285 – The veteran had kept 285 clean sheets in 647 Serie A matches prior to the Turin derby, which is a record.

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will break Paolo Maldini's Serie A appearance record on Saturday after he was selected to play a 648th top-flight game in the derby against Torino.

The veteran former Italy number one kept his place in the side, with Wojciech Szczesny named on the bench at Allianz Stadium.

Buffon, 41, was an Italy team-mate of former Milan defender Maldini, who retired in 2009 at the age of 40.

Buffon's Serie A debut came for Parma in 1995 when he shut out Milan in a 0-0 draw against the team that would go on to win the title.

He went on to join Juve in 2001 in a £32.6million deal, making him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.

It proved to be money well invested as he spent 17 years in a first spell with the Turin giants, staying at the club following relegation amid Italian football's Calciopoli scandal and helping Juventus reel off seven successive Scudetti before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2018.

After a year in France, Buffon returned to Juventus last July, competing with Szczesny for the starting role in Maurizio Sarri's team since then.

At the end of June, Buffon signed new a contract to keep him at Juve for at least another year.

Roma president Jim Pallotta insisted coach Paulo Fonseca's future "is not in doubt", even though a top-four finish in Serie A now looks beyond the club.

Back-to-back defeats to Milan and Udinese have left the Giallorossi 12 points adrift of in-form Atalanta, who have won nine in a row in all competitions.

Last season was the first time Roma had finished outside the top three since 2012-13, and the prospect of missing out on Champions League football again has led to scrutiny on Fonseca's position.

Luciano Spalletti – who has been tipped to return to the capital as Fonseca's possible successor – told his former employers to stick with their current boss, which Pallotta stressed the club intend to do.

"Paulo Fonseca's future is not in doubt," he wrote on Twitter.

"He has my full support. Forza Roma."

Former Shakhtar Donetsk boss Fonseca was appointed as Roma boss in June 2019 on a two-year contract, with the option to extend his stay by another 12 months.

Jadon Sancho still wants a move to Manchester United, while Inter could be ready to buy Alexis Sanchez.

Sancho, 20, has been linked with numerous European giants after starring for Borussia Dortmund.

While he could be set for Old Trafford, United may opt to get rid of Sanchez permanently.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHO STILL WANTS MAN UTD MOVE

Sancho wants a move to Manchester United but the Premier League giants must still find an agreement with Dortmund, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The England international has been linked to the likes of United, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Sancho is contracted at Dortmund, where he arrived in 2017, until 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

- On loan at Inter this season, Sanchez could stay at San Siro even longer. Goal reports the Serie A giants are looking to sign the Chile international permanently from Manchester United, for a cut-price deal of €20million (£18m).

- Eric Garcia could be getting closer to a Barcelona return. Sport reports the LaLiga giants have started talks with Manchester City regarding the defender, who left Barca for the Premier League side in 2017.

- Amid uncertainty over his future, it seems Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is looking for a new deal at Arsenal, where his contract expires in 2021. ESPN reports the forward wants a minimum three-year contract worth £250,000 per week.

- Tottenham reportedly had a chance to move Tanguy Ndombele on. The Telegraph reports Spurs rejected an offer to send Ndombele to Juventus, with Aaron Ramsey heading in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Goal says Tottenham are trying to sign Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik, but are facing competition from Juve.

- Daniele De Rossi only retired earlier this year, but the former Italy international is seemingly already attracting interest to be a coach. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Fiorentina are ready to offer the former midfielder the chance to take the helm.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.