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Paqueta proving he's worth the hype as settles at AC Milan

Napoli's forward Arkadiusz Milik, centre controls the ball, during the Italian Serie A soccer match between SSc Napoli and SS Lazio at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. (Cesare Abbate/Ansa via AP)

By DANIELLA MATAR

Associated Press

MILAN (AP) Lucas Paqueta is settling in at AC Milan and beginning to prove he is worth the hype.

While the Brazil international did not score in a 2-0 win at Genoa on Monday, he was at the heart of most of the Rossoneri's good play and hit the woodwork.

Fabio Borini and Suso scored as Milan moved back into fourth spot in Serie A and the final Champions League qualifying berth.

"I was amazed by him (Paqueta), both on a physical and tactical level," Borini said. "He likes to display his skills, but he's very intelligent at the same time."

Paqueta transferred to Milan from Flamengo this month for a reported 35 million euros ($40 million) and started in the Italian Cup and Super Cup.

The 21-year-old Paqueta made his Serie A debut on Monday and showed why Brazil coach Tite was enthused about his prodigious talent.

As well as providing opportunities for his new teammates, Paqueta had good movement off the ball and demonstrated a willingness to get stuck in.

He nearly scored a spectacular opener on the stroke of halftime but his long-range volley crashed off the left post.

However, he still has much to learn as was evident when his showboating almost cost Milan a goal.

Paqueta beat a defender with a remarkable flick but he then immediately gave the ball away to spark a Genoa counterattack which, fortunately for him, came to nothing.

"He can still improve, even if he's already demonstrating his ability," assistant Milan coach Luigi Riccio said. "He's skillful, physical, fast, and can head a ball. He can do well."

Veteran Chievo Verona goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino ensured it wasn't Cristiano Ronaldo's night on Monday.

Sorrentino somehow managed to push Ronaldo's penalty - which had seemed destined for the bottom right corner - around the post at full stretch.

Juventus nevertheless won 3-0 to restore its nine-point advantage over second-placed Napoli.

It would have been worse for Chievo had it not been for a number of decent saves from Sorrentino, who turns 40 in March.

"So many congratulations to Sorrentino and to our goalkeeping coach for the penalty save," Chievo coach Domenico Di Carlo said. "They are two great professionals, they deserve this satisfaction."

Sorrentino might have felt a small sense of revenge after he was knocked unconscious by Ronaldo in the Portuguese star's debut for Juventus.

But Sorrentino could do little to prevent three players from scoring their first goal of the season: Douglas Costa, Emre Can and Daniele Rugani.

Juventus has 14 different goalscorers, as many as it had in the whole of last season.

Only Roma has had more players score in this Serie A.

Maurizio Sarri was criticized during his last season in charge of Napoli by club president Aurelio De Laurentiis for not making the most of his squad.

His replacement, Carlo Ancelotti, is doing just that and its working.

While most of his changes to his starting lineup have been to give certain players a rest, Ancelotti was forced to rotate his squad on Sunday because of injuries to Napoli captain Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne, and with Kalidou Koulibaly suspended.

Napoli still beat Lazio 2-1.

"There was a lot of worry because of the absences but I know the value of these players and if a team manages to overcome these absences it means it has important technical and mental values.

"We'll go forward like this, seeing as everyone has a high performance there will not be a standard starting lineup."

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Updated January 21, 2019

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