AC Milan stays on course

AC Milan’s forward Krzysztof Piatek celebrates after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match against Atalanta at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia Stadium in Bergamo Saturday. — AFP

ROME — Krzysztof Piatek hit a wonder goal and grabbed a second as AC Milan came back to defeat Atalanta 3-1 Saturday and stay on course for the Champions League.

Piatek took his season’s Serie A total to 17, just two behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Polish star now has scored six times in four starts for Milan since moving from Genoa in the January transfer window to replace Gonzalo Higuain.

After Remo Freuler had given Atalanta a 33rd-minute lead, Piatek struck with a memorable left-footed volley in first-half stoppage time.

Ricardo Rodriguez swung in a cross from the left, Piatek hooked the ball around defender Berat Djimsiti before volleying into the top corner from 12 yards out despite not even looking at the target.

Turkish winger Hakan Calhanoglu then put Milan ahead with a sharp drive 10 minutes into the second period before Piatek headed in from a corner just after the hour mark to seal victory.

Balotelli leads Marseille

Monaco climbed out of the Ligue 1 relegation places Saturday with a 1-0 win over Nantes, while Mario Balotelli scored for the third time in four games for a resurgent Marseille.

After failing to win at home all season until the start of February, Monaco made it back-to-back victories at the Stade Louis II as Gelson Martins fired in a Rony Lopes cross on 13 minutes.

Portugal international Martins, also on target in last week’s 2-2 draw at Montpellier, has scored twice in three league appearances for Monaco following his arrival on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Leonardo Jardim’s side moved up to 16th and two points clear of Dijon in the relegation play-off place.

Marseille defeated Amiens 2-0 to record three straight wins for the first time this season and jump to fourth, six points behind Lyon in the final Champions League spot.

Balotelli failed to find the net in 10 matches for Nice this season but has found his goalscoring touch since his switch to Marseille last month.

Florian Thauvin bagged his 12th goal this term to give Marseille the lead on 19 minutes at the Stade Velodrome, and Balotelli swept in a second on the turn just six minutes later.

Patrick Vieira’s Nice crashed to a heavy 3-0 loss at mid-table Angers but remains seventh.

City dumps Newport

Manchester City endured some anxious moments but escaped from fourth-tier Newport County with their FA Cup hopes intact as Phil Foden scored twice in an ultimately comfortable 4-1 fifth-round victory Saturday.

Newport, 82 rungs below City on the English football ladder, rattled Pep Guardiola’s aristocrats in the first half and Tyreeq Bakinson almost gave it the lead at a rocking Rodney Parade.

But City’s class showed in the second half and once Leroy Sane’s powerful shot from a tight angle put it in front after 51 minutes the chances of a seismic Cup shock faded away.

Foden’s 75th-minute shot crept in at the near post to subdue the home fans but when Padraig Amond maintained his run of scoring in every round with an 88th minute lob it seemed possible Newport’s fairytale might have a late twist.

But a second goal for youngster Foden arrived 71 seconds later before Riyad Mahrez rubbed salt into Newport’s wounds with virtually the last kick of the game as City claimed a 12th win in 13 matches in all competitions.

In the day’s other ties Brighton and Hove Albion shrugged off its poor Premier League form to beat Frank Lampard’s Derby County 2-1.

Millwall booked its place in the quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon. — Agencies