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Five talking-points from Serie A at the weekend

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Five talking-points from Serie A at the weekend
Soccer Football - Serie A - Juventus v U.S Sassuolo - Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - September 16, 2018 Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo scores their second goal REUTERS/Massimo Pinca   -   Copyright  MASSIMO PINCA(Reuters)
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MILAN (Reuters) – Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first two goals for Juventus as they beat Sassuolo 2-1 on Sunday to maintain their perfect start to the season, although the win was marred by Douglas Costa’s red card for spitting.

Here are some other talking points from the weekend.

Torino furious over VAR

FIFA proclaimed the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system a success at the World Cup but it continues to cause controversy in Serie A where it has been in use since last season.

Torino were fuming after an early goal by Alejandro Berenguer at Udinese was disallowed for offside.

Their complaints were two-fold – that Berenguer was not offside and that referee Paulo Valeri blew for the infringement before the ball had entered the net, preventing the incident from being reviewed.

“It’s impossible to ignore this,” said Torino sporting director Gianluca Petrachi.

“We had 400 meetings in which we were told that the referee should wait on offside decisions until the ball has gone into the net and yet today, he did the opposite. Why?”

Pressure builds on Inter coach Spalletti

Inter Milan, seen as possible title contenders before the season, have only four points from four games after Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by promoted Parma, leaving coach Luciano Spalletti exasperated.

“It becomes difficult to find excuses,” he said. “The responsibility is mine above all if a lot of players are showing less than their full potential.

“We wasted too many easy chances considering the quality that we have. We need to stay solid, keep our heads and learn also how to make the most of scrappy chances.”

Juventus play down spitting incident

Juventus have been accused by some media of playing down winger Douglas Costa’s red card for spitting at Sassuolo’s Federico Di Francesco.

The Turin club said on Twitter that the Brazilian was “sent off in a decision made by the VAR after he fell out with Di Francesco.” The club used the same phrasing in the match report on its website.

Costa himself apologised to the teams fans and his team mates on his Instagram page — but Di Francesco’s name was conspicuously absent from his mea culpa.

Roma jeered off, pressure on Monchi

AS Roma, who face Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday, were jeered off after another disappointing effort saw them squander a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw at home to lowly Chievo.

Sporting director Monchi is feeling the heat as much as coach Eusebio Di Francesco.

Roma fans have already protested after three key players — goalkeeper Alisson and midfielders Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan — were sold in the close season. The club also sold Mohamed Salah to Liverpool one year ago, a few months after Monchi had taken over.

Monchi spent 17 years in the same role at Sevilla, with nine of the 13 trophies in the club’s 127-history coming during that time, including three successive Europa League wins.

Unlikely heroes

The weekend threw up two unlikely heroes in Cagliari forward Joao Pedro and Parma’s Federico Dimarco.

Two months ago, Dimarco was signed by Inter Milan from Swiss side Sion. He was almost immediately loaned to promoted Parma and on Saturday scored the only goal in Parma’s 1-0 win over Inter — a first-ever Serie A goal for the 20-year-old.

Joao Pedro scored for Cagliari against AC Milan on Sunday four minutes into his comeback following a six-month doping ban.

The Brazilian tested positive for the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide but said he ingested it unknowingly. Anti-doping officials had requested a four-year ban.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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