ROME (AP): Napoli are halfway to their first Serie A title since Diego Maradona led the club to the 1990 championship. Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as Napoli routed promoted Frosinone 5-1 yesterday to earn the southern team the Italian league’s symbolic “winter title”. Through 19 rounds of the 38-match season, Napoli hold a two-point lead over Inter Milan, who were beaten 1-0 by Sassuolo earlier with a last-minute penalty to surrender the lead. The winter champions have gone on to win Serie A nearly seven out of every 10 seasons. “We’re still not sure what we’re capable of,” Napoli’s first-year manager Maurizio Sarri said. The last time Napoli earned the mid-term honor came in 1990. “Being winter champion means nothing. It means something when you’re champion in May,” Higuain said. “We’ve got to stay calm now because there are still five months to go and we want to continue this way.” Fiorentina are third, three points behind, after losing 3-1 to Lazio on Saturday. Also yesterday, it was: Atalanta 0, Genoa 2; Bologna 0, Chievo Verona 1; Torino 0, Empoli 1; and Hellas Verona 0, Palermo 1. In an entertaining match at the San Siro, both Inter and Sassuolo produced numerous chances and goalkeepers Samir Handanovic and Andrea Consigli were superb. Inter threatened early with Mauro Icardi and Adem Ljajic, then Simone Missiroli and Nicola Sansone were dangerous for Sassuolo. Handanovic tipped a free-kick from Sansone over the bar and Consigli made an extraordinary diving save to swat away a shot from Ljajic before the break. Inter substitute Rodrigo Palacio had a clear look in the 79th, but his effort was cleared off the line by defender Federico Peluso. Miranda’s decisive foul came after an error by fellow center back Jeison Murillo. Berardi then calmly beat Handanovic, improving to a perfect 6-for-6 on penalties this season. Having been beaten by Lazio before the holiday break, Inter has now lost two consecutive home matches in Serie A for the first time since May 2013. Sassuolo are sixth, 10 points behind Napoli.
Pakistan’s coach Younis quits ISLAMABAD (AP): Waqar Younis has quit as Pakistan coach only a day after Shahid Afridi stepped down as Twenty20 captain. Pakistan lost three group matches at the World Twenty20 and made an early exit from the tournament in India. Younis, who was national coach for 19 months, says “unfortunately I couldn’t give the result which the nation was expecting.” Younis had three months before his contract with the PCB was due to expire, but he quit after meeting with the Pakistan Cricket Board officials in Lahore on Monday. Setback for WCup stadium MOSCOW (AP): The official completion date of Sochi’s stadium for the 2018 World Cup has slipped back five months to November, the second such delay for a Russian World Cup venue in the last week. Regional sports minister Lyudmila Chernova announced the delay in comments to the state-run Tass agency, but did not give any explanations. The Fisht stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympics, but has needed lengthy construction work to convert it for football and expand its capacity to over 47,000. Last Friday, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the St Petersburg stadium had fallen three months behind schedule but would still open by the end of the year. Sammy Stadium CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC): West Indies T20 cricket captain Darren Sammy yesterday expressed his delight at the decision of the St Lucia government to rename the Beausejour Cricket Ground, after him following the exploits of the regional team in the just-concluded T20 World Cup in India. Sammy, along with fellow St Lucian, Johnson Charles, returned to a hero’s welcome at the Hewanorra International Airport, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony and other St Lucians. “Big-time reception, homecoming,” Charles said in a video posted on Facebook, while Sammy said Anthony had announced that the island’s premier cricketing ground will now be known as the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium. “To God be the glory,” Sammy said, adding “I am truly honoured, I am humbled and bless. Thank you, we always know St Lucians love their own and the love and respect and admiration I have just received at the airport, oh my God, thank you very much.” Giorgi turns down Italy call-up ROME (AP): Camila Giorgi has turned down a call-up to Italy’s Fed Cup team for its World Group playoff against Spain, choosing to compete in qualifying for a tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, instead. The 48th-ranked Giorgi announced last week that she was cutting off ties with the Italian Tennis Federation – apparently because the federation insisted she play Fed Cup. Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti called her up anyhow for the April 16-17 series. Giorgi had until Monday to confirm her call-up and the federation announced yesterday that 72nd-ranked Karin Knapp was taking Giorgi’s place on the team, which also includes Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone. Giorgi is currently playing in Katowice, Poland, where she beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-4 in the first round yesterday.
5 2. Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen) – Click right to see which signing Liverpool could beat Man United to… – If Christoph Kramer does return to Leverkusen then Bender could find his playing time curtailed in North Rhine-Westphalia. Happy to get stuck in and do the dirty work, Bender would be a good foil for the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson. 3. Christoph Kramer (Borussia Monchengladbach – on loan from Bayer Leverkusen) – Continue through the gallery to see the other German star possibly available… – The World Cup winner has helped his side into third place, two points above parent club Leverkusen, in the Bundesliga this campaign. A consistent perform hes likely to return to the BayArena in the summer but Liverpool could be a tempting proposition for him. 5. Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla) – Click right to see which much-coveted midfielder will be wanted by Liverpool… – Poland international Krychowiak is enjoying an excellent debut season in La Liga as he helps his new side battle near the top of the table. An ex-Arsenal target, he has earned the nickname the plumber thanks to his willingness to get dirty and work for the team. Current boss Unai Emery and former coach Hubert Fournier have lauded his attitude too. 5 Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is already targeting key transfer targets for the summer as their top four hopes slide away.The Reds, who will lose Steven Gerrard in the summer, have looked a little toothless in midfield in recent weeks and it’s here where the Northern Irishman appears to be making plans.Monaco’s Geoffrey Kondogbia is currently the man interesting the Reds following some excellent displays in Ligue 1 and the Champions League, where he scored in their 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates.His all-round ability has seen him become a French international and at the age of 22 he has the potential to progress at Anfield.Liverpool could see their bid to snare the player scuppered though as he has previously been watched by several top European clubs.So who else should they be targeting to add some much needed backbone to their team, talkSPORT takes a look… 5 4. Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) – Scroll on to find out which World Cup winner could be on Rodgers’ radar – One of the Premier Leagues most coveted players, Schneiderlin could leave St Marys in the summer after he missed out on a move last summer. Liverpool will have to battle Arsenal and Tottenham for his services. 5 5 1.William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon) – Long admired by Manchester United, the Portugal international has admitted it is his dream to play in the Premier League. Meanwhile, current team-mate Nani believes he is ready to make the switch to England and stealing him away from the Red Devils would be a coup for Brendan Rodgers.