Serie A TIM: Matchday 23 Review
With the first and last places in the Serie A TIM basically settled, it is all about the European and relegation positions in Italy.
Lazio 1-0 Empoli
The Serie A TIM started on a Thursday this round and the only goal in the match came in the first half after an Empoli error from their goalkeeper Ivan Provedel. The 24-year old failed to properly control a back pass and Lazio striker Felipe Caicedo pounced; Provedel fouled the Ecuadorian and the referee pointed to the spot. Caicedo himself got up, placed the ball on the spot, and scored with a well-placed left-footed penalty. The Tuscans have made some improvements since hiring Giuseppe Iachini, but no break-through was forthcoming. The Biancocelesti stayed in Champions League contention, while the Azzurri are in a struggle for their Serie A survival.
Chievo 0-3 Roma
A professional display from the Giallorossi here… First-half goals from Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko allowed the away side to race into an early lead. El Shaarawy beat the offside trap, went one on one with goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino, and lifted the ball into the net; Dzeko scored a lovely individual goal when he collected the ball on the edge of the box, beat his covering defender, and hit a well placed left footed shot along the ground into the far corner. The Flying Donkeys were never in this game, and it was no surprise when I Lupi scored another. A great team goal was finished off by Aleksandar Kolarov with a ferocious drive that left Sorrentino with no chance. A great result for Roma as they build towards facing Porto in Europe, while the Veronese really look gone this time.
Fiorentina 0-0 Napoli
This match, in my humble opinion, was all about the goalkeepers Alban Lafont and Alex Meret… Both shot-stoppers have been revelations this season between the sticks in a similar way that Polish poacher Krzysztof Piatek has been in attack. In the first half, Frenchman Lafont pulled off miraculous saves from Piotr Zielinski and Dries Mertens (not once but twice), while Meret stopped Jordan Veretout’s rasping drive to keep the score 0-0 at the break. It was more of the same in the second, as Polish midfielder Zielinski was denied again by Lafont. Napoli pressed and pressed and pressed with their last chance falling to Arkadiusz Milik, but with Lafont scrambling, he failed to put the ball into the net with a sliding effort. A point really does nothing for either club’s ambitions…
Parma 0-1 Inter
The Crociati dominated the first half and must be kicking themselves for not converting their dominance. Gervinho came the closest to breaking the deadlock when he coasted into the Nerazzurri penalty area and hit a ferocious shot that hit the crossbar! The away team’s best chance was Ivan Perisic barreling down on goal, but Luigi Sepe raced out to make the save. Inter came out in the second half a much-changed team, with Marcelo Brozovic and Radja Nainggolan leading the charge. The Belgian forced an early save from Sepe and then Danilo D’Ambrosio had the ball in the net, but it was ruled out for handball from a corner. Just over 10 minutes from the end substitute Lautaro Martinez finally got Inter’s goal! Perisic won the ball in midfield, passed to Nainggolan, who sent a slide rule pass to the Argentine who finished off the move superbly, blasting the ball into the roof of the net. Luciano Spalletti’s job is safe for now, while Parma came down from the high of the comeback last week versus Juventus.
Bologna 1-1 Genoa
First-half goals from each side meant a share of the spoils at the Renato Dall’Ara… Mattia Destro scored his first goal in almost a year – interestingly, his last was also against the Grifone – with a header after a huge mistake from goalkeeper Ionata Radu, from a cross from Andrea Poli. The Ligurians equalizer also came from a header – this time from a corner – as Lukas Lerager was left unmarked and his powerful header left the goalkeeper rooted to his spot. A point each when really all three were needed.
Sampdoria 0-1 Frosinone
A first-half goal from Daniel Ciofani shocked Sampdoria… The home team looked devoid of ideas and the Lazio based team took advantage of that as Goldaniga crossed to Ciofani and his first-time finish was enough to beat Emilio Audero, who’s positioning could probably be called into question. Samp reacted and created several chances but Fabio Quagliarella, Omar Colley and Alex Praet were denied time and time again by an inspired Marco Sportiello in goal. Sampdoria’s European ambitions took a serious hit, while Frosinone are just three points adrift of safety.
Atalanta 2-1 Spal
A brilliant comeback from La Dea… The away team were much the better side to start this match and they deservedly took the lead, and it was former Atalanta man Andrea Petagna who gave them the lead with a header from a set-piece in the eighth minute. Atalanta had two glorious chances but Papu Gomez hit the side netting with the first and his second attempt was saved by the legs of the Spal goalkeeper. Yet again this season, we had what I have called “Zapata Time”. He led the comeback with an assist and a goal. Firstly, he raced down the left and crossed for an open Josip Ilicic who scored with his often un-used right foot. The second was a true poachers goal, as he met a cross from Hans Hateboer first time to power the ball into the net. The Bergamaschi are one point off 4th place, while Spal are relatively safe in 14th place.
Torino 1-0 Udinese
The Granata dominated the proceedings and it paid off at the half-hour mark as Ola Aina headed home from a corner to give the home team the lead. Toro goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu then pulled off a double save from Rodrigo De Paul from dead ball situations; first off a free-kick and then from a penalty after the referee used the VAR to determine that Stefano Okaka was fouled in the area. The excitement continued as Okaka thought he had leveled matters with a low drive into the net, but after the use of the VAR, it was shown that De Paul was in an offside position in front of Sirigu, so it was ruled out. The Friulians went down to 10 men as Sebastien De Maio was sent off for a second yellow card. Argentine De Paul had another chance, Kevin Lasagna crossed in and his shot was deflected off the line and onto the cross-bar! What.A.Match. Amazingly Torino are only five off a Champions League place, while Udinese are just one point above the relegation zone.
Sassuolo 0-3 Juventus
A relatively comfortable win for La Vecchia Signora, but not after being let off by a controversial call going their way… The Neroverdi thought they should have had a penalty after Juve’s goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny appeared to have fouled Filip Duricic, but even with the use of the VAR, the referee Paolo Mazzoleni did not award the spot-kick… As per usual, Juve took the fortune and ran with it… Sami Khedira scored after a Cristiano Ronaldo shot was parried by the home team’s goalkeeper Andrea Consigli into his path. The home team missed a golden chance when Domenico Berardi missed an open goal after the Polish keeper came way off his line and missed the ball to clear. The visitors made them pay for their errors as Ronaldo scored with a header(from another error from the poor goalkeeping of Consigli), They made it 3-0 soon after with a well placed Emre Can shot that this time Consigli could do nothing about. Juve has without a doubt wrapped up an 8th consecutive Serie A, while Sassuolo continued their poor performances whenever they play Juve…
Milan 3-0 Cagliari
A routine win for the Rossoneri over a struggling Sardinian side… The first goal, however, was very fortunate, as a Suso cross was parried away by the away team’s goalkeeper, it hit his own defender and went into the net…..The second was a good team goal, as Davide Calabria crossed into the box and Lucas Paqueta was there to meet the ball and calmly placed it into the net. It was the Brazilian’s first strike for the club and it came just a day after the tragic events at his former club Flamengo, to which he dedicated this goal. The Islanders had a glorious chance to pull one back, but Gigio Donnarumma proved his worth again, saving from point-blank from Joao Pedro early in the second half. The home team made the points safe with a third and it was that man Krzysztof Piatek again! The initial shot from Hakan Calhanoglu was saved, it rebounded to the Pole and he scored into an open goal. Milan stayed in 4th by just a single point, while Cagliari sits just three points above the drop zone.
European competition returns this week, with Roma, Juventus, Inter, Lazio, and Napoli all involved.