Juventus overcome Milan with ease, Napoli defeats Genoa in a rainy encounter, Inter endures a rough loss against Atalanta, Lazio picks up their first draw against Sassuolo. This all occurs with the race for a Champions League position heating up. Below, I provide the Matchday 12 recap in the Serie a TIM.
Milan 0-2 Juventus
A sixth straight win for The Bianconeri over the Rossoneri achieved with comfort.
The Milanisti in the stands were not matched by their team on the field, as the fans unveiled a brilliant Choreography celebrating 50 years of the Ultras. Juve manager Max Allegri opted to not start former Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci in this match, but that did not stop the home team’s fans from insulting him before and during the encounter. The defending champions were on the front foot early and opened the scoring before the 10th-minute mark when Alex Sandro was given the freedom of the San Siro to cross, and Mario Mandzukic headed home. He beat Ricardo Rodriguez to the ball easily for his 5th goal of the season. After that Juve just played within themselves not exerting much urgency to go forward, while Milan was decent without being great. The home team had a great chance to equalize just before halftime, after Mehdi Benatia was adjudged to have handled the ball, following the use of the VAR. Gonzalo Higuain, so keen to prove his worth to the team that discarded him to make room for Cristiano Ronaldo, stepped up and missed. Some credit must be given to Juve’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny who saved the spot kick, but the Argentine’s effort was not up to the standard expected.
Following a slew of substitutions by both sides, the game became slightly more open. Milan had a couple of chances to counter quickly, while Juve as they are famous for, just tried to kill the game off, although they nearly doubled their lead when a Paulo Dybala free-kick skimmed the post. It was one of Milan’s substitutes, Diego Laxalt who made a horrendous error that led to La Vecchia Signora’s second goal. A poor clearance from the Uruguayan international was picked up by Joao Cancelo, he strode into the Milan penalty area, fired off a shot that Gigio Donnarumma could only parry into the path of Cristiano Ronaldo, who smashed the ball home. It was the Portuguese international’s first goal at the San Siro. Soon after though, arguably the biggest talking point of the match happened, as Higuain got sent off after a clash with the referee, Paolo Mazzoleni. After challenging Benatia for the ball, the Moroccan fell to the floor holding his back, Higuain thought it was him that should have been awarded the free kick. The official disagreed and booked the former Juve man, however, he continued his protest and he was shown a second yellow. He was incandescent with rage and several players on both his current and former side had to restrain him before he left the pitch in tears. The match petted out after that.
Juve bounces back from their midweek defeat in Europe, while Milan are now outside looking in on the Champions League places.
Frosinone 1-1 Fiorentina
Both teams created chances in the first half in Lazio, including a home team’s defender hitting the post and almost scoring an own goal, but there would be no breakthrough at the end.
Both goals came courtesy of two young Italians. Marco Benassi glanced a header into the net just after the resumption of play in the second and Andrea Pinamonti hit a scorcher to tie it up in the 89th minute, with a right-footer from 30 yards out as the points were shared.
The Canarini’s continues to improve, while La Viola’s young team are showing their inconsistencies.
Torino 1-2 Parma
Two goals within 15 minutes gave the Crociati their first win in four games versus The Granata.
How Gervinho goes is how Parma goes, and it was the Ivorian that opened the scoring in the 10th minute, after a mix up between two of the home side’s defenders, allowed the former Roma man to sneak through and score past Salvatore Sirigu. A sumptuous one time flick by Roberto Inglese from a Roberto Gagliolo cross from the left doubled the visitors lead, and Walter Mazzarri’s team were again showing their hills and valleys personality. The 1991 Mitropa Cup winners got one back before the breakthrough, a well placed one time shot from Daniele Baselli, and it stayed so at the half. The Emilia-Romagna side had a couple of chances to increase their lead, but a combination of the crossbar and some wonderful saves from Sirigu kept the score the same as it was at the break.
Parma are now level with Torino on 17 points.
Spal 2-2 Cagliari
The home side let a two-goal lead slip in this one as the Sardinians grabbed a point at the Paolo Mazza.
A lovely worked move down the right was finished off by Andrea Petagna after he met the cross of the ever impressive Manuel Lazzarri. It was the Italy international right back who again proved decisive, as he set up captain Mirco Antenucci to double the hosts lead in the 73′, with a lovely spin and finish inside the box. Just three minutes later though and the 1970 Scudetto winners were back in it, through a Luciano Pavoletti header. You can’t stop him from scoring in the air! The Rossoblu got an equalizer just three minutes later, as Simone Padoin beat the defender on the left, crossed to the Moldovan Artur Ionita, who faked to shoot, which caused the defender to slide in and he buried the ball into the net.
A draw does not help either team as they are both just a few points above the relegation zone.
Genoa 1-2 Napoli
A match between friends as the Partenopei got the better of the Grifone in rain-soaked conditions.
It was the home team that took the lead when Christian Kouame rose to meet the ball from a right-sided cross to power his header past Davide Ospina in the Napoli goal. Was there a shock on the cards? The Campania based side continued playing their entertaining brand of Calcio and twice could have scored in the first half. A Lorenzo Insigne shot hit the post, and the nine-time Scudetto winner’s goalkeeper Andrei Radu pulled off an unbelievable save to deny Ardi Milik late on. Soon after the re-start, a torrential downpour made the field water-logged and the players were taken off it for 10 minutes. On resumption, the away side still tried to play their way into the goal and were rewarded soon after, when Spanish substitute Fabian Ruiz got on the end of a lovely Dries Mertens flick to tie the game up. Napoli left it until the 86th minute to get the go-ahead goal, and it was an own goal from the home side that got them the three points. Insigne wiped in a free kick, the ball eluded everyone, and in his attempt to clear, Davide Biraschi put the ball into his own net.
Napoli continues to do their best to challenge Juve, while Genoa’s decision to fire Davide Ballardini, looks even more nonsensical.
Atalanta 4-1 Inter
A dominant display for La Dea over their Lombardy rivals gave them a 4th straight win and snapped Inter’s seven-game run in the process.
The Bergamaschi started off quickly, and it took them just eight minutes to take the lead, through Hans Hateboer, who slid home a cross. That the lead was just by one at the half, was a testament to brilliant goalkeeping from Inter’s Samir Handanovic, who pulled off a worldly double save even before Atalanta had scored and woeful finishing from the home side. It was the Nerazzurri that tied the game up through a Mauro Icardi penalty after the referee judged that Gianluca Mancini handled the ball in the penalty area, a harsh call, but those go either way. He made amends 15 minutes later with a brilliant header to give the Bergamo side the lead, of which they would never relinquish again. Atalanta scored from another header from a free-kick this time with Berat Djimsiti and they finished off il Biscione, with a Papu Gomez strike from outside the box on the stroke of full time.
Atalanta are now just four points of a Champions League place, while Inter has much to ponder over the international break.
Empoli 2-1 Udinese
The Tuscans got a much-needed win while The Frulians are falling deeper and deeper down.
Truth and in fact, it was the visitors that dominated this match in the first half and missed a few chances, including a Kevin Lasagna effort that struck the bar. However, just before the break, a lovely bit of play from the home side, with some neat one-touch football, was clinically converted by Miha Zajc. The home side took that momentum into the second half and doubled their lead just five minutes after the break, and it was Francesco Caputo who scored with a header from a corner. The visitors had a great opportunity to get one back, from the penalty spot, but Rodrigo De Paul skied his effort well over the bar. With less than 10 minutes to go, Ignacio Pussetto did get a goal for Udinese, but it was a mere consolation.
Both sides are now tied with nine points in the last relegation spot.
Chievo 2-2 Bologna
The away side scored in just the third minute through Federico Santander header. It was initially ruled offside, but after the referee checked VAR, it was shown that it was the Chievo defender that got the last touch before it reached the Paraguayan. There was a lifeline for the Flying Donkeys as they were awarded a penalty in the 20th minute and Riccardo Meggiorini scored. It got better for the Verona side, as Joel Obi scored from just four yards out, after an attempted bicycle kick. Bologna tied the game up with a lovely header from Riccardo Orsolini and the game ended with a share of the spoils.
Chievo’s manager Ventura resigned after the match, despite gaining his first point at the helm, while Bologna are just one point above the relegation zone.
Roma 4-1 Sampdoria
A routine win for the Giallorossi over an underwhelming Samp side.
Juan Jesus opened the scoring in the 19th minute after tapping in a Bryan Cristante header. Czech striker Patrick Schick finally opened his account for the season with a goal just before the hour mark, after being set up by Alexander Kolarov. It was then the turn of Stefan El Shaarawy, as the former Milan man scored a brace to confirm the points for the home side. The first was a finish of the highest order, as he stepped away from the Samp goalkeeper Audero and a couple of defenders to chip the ball into the net, the second was a tap-in after an Edin Zdeko crossed had been deflected into his path. Former Roma player Gregoire Defrel got a consolation for the Liguria side, with a nice finish of his own.
Roma picks up their first win in four league matches, while Samp have now lost three straight games.
Sassuolo 1-1 Lazio
Two goals before the 15th minute meant a share of the points in this encounter at The Mapei Stadium.
Marco Parolo continued his hot streak in front of goal, with his 5th of the season. A cross by Ciro Immobile was collected by Luis Alberto, the Spaniard’s shot was cleared off the line, but the former Italy international was there to score. However, the Neroverdi leveled soon after, when Gianmarco Ferrari scored with a header after jumping in between two Biancocelesti defenders to score. Immobile almost gave the away side the lead for the second time, but his rasping effort hit the post, after a Lazio counter. Both teams did not create too much thereafter, and the game ended 1-1.
Sassuolo continues their push for Europe, while Lazio is all alone in the 4th and final Champions League spot.
Juve already has a six-point gap at the top, and as well as Napoli are playing, it seems the Bianconeri are heading for another Serie A title, whilst the rest of the league battle to be the best of the rest.