A thrilling Derby Della Madonnina, a first league loss for Juventus, a dominant Lazio display, and a tightening of the relegation race highlighted the latest round of Italian Serie A TIM football.
Cagliari 2-1 Fiorentina
A vital win for the Sardinians over a stuttering La Viola…All three goals in this Friday clash were scored in the second half. Joao Pedro got the opening goal, with a sliding finish from a cross in the 52nd minute and just over 10 minutes later, the home team doubled their lead with a header from Luca Ceppitelli. Fiorentina looked off the pace but did get a goal with a lovely run and finish from Federico Chiesa, but it was just a mere consolation. The Isolani proved there are much better at the Sardegna Arena than away from home, while the Tuscans are running out of games for Europe.
Sassuolo 3-5 Sampdoria
An eight-goal feast won by Samp…The away side took an early lead through former Sassuolo star Gregoire Defrel, as the striker collected a pass inside the box from Fabio Quagliarella and volleyed home. The evergreen “Quags” got his name on the score-sheet, pouncing on a failed clearance, to hit a right-footed curling effort to double his team’s lead. The Neroverdi struck back less than two minutes later, with a well-worked move down the right, that was finished off by Jeremie Boga. Just a minute late the Ligurians re-established their two-goal advantage, as Defrel set up Karol Linetty for a calm finish. The teams headed to the break, but there was much more to come after the interval.
Less than a minute in the half, Dennis Praet volleyed home from a Nikola Murru cross and it was 4-1. Sassuolo got another with a deflected Alfred Duncan effort, but yet again, the home team’s defense was their own worse enemy…The goalkeeper gave the ball away, it was picked up by Linetty, he passed to Manolo Gabbiadini, and he scored with his right foot. Khouma Babacar scored a consolation for the home team late on. Samp are not out of the Champions League race entirely, while Sassuolo’s European ambitions may be over.
Spal 2-1 Roma
Spal shocks Roma…The home team started off the better of the teams and were duly rewarded, as Mohamed Fares, rose high to head home a well-placed header past Robert Olsen in the Giallorossi goal. The second half was a tale of two penalties within five minutes. Firstly, Edin Dzeko was fouled after more brilliant work from Nicolo Zaniolo and Diego Perotti converted. With their next attack, Andrea Petagna was fouled and the striker himself picked himself up and scored to give Gli Estensi the lead again. It would be a lead they would not relinquish again. Spal are still just two points above the drop zone, while Roma’s Ranieri revival took a hit.
Torino 2-3 Bologna
A fully deserved win for the Rossoblu…However, it was the Granata that took the lead with an own goal from Erick Pulgar in just the 5th minute. The away side struck back twice within five minutes to take the lead; An Andrea Poli header scored after nice work from Rodrigo Palacio on the right, and then Pulgar made up for his own goal by scoring a penalty, after the referee used the VAR to see that a Torino defender had handled the ball from a corner. In the second, Bologna continued to dominate proceedings, and opened up a two-goal lead, with a neat finish from Riccardo Orsolini. The end of the match was highly dramatic as both teams had a man sent off and Armando Izzo pulled one back for the home team. The Emilia-Romagna side though held on for the win. Bologna are now just one point from the safety zone, while Toro are still just six points off a Champions League spot.
Genoa 2-0 Juventus
The Bianconerri are unbeaten no more…The Grifone were the much better team and in the first half, had been given a penalty, however, after the VAR review, it was rescinded. The home team’s dominance was rewarded, as ironically, Stefano Sturaro, who recently joined from Juve, put them ahead. From all of 20 yards, he curled a lovely shot past Mattia Perin, a former Genoa player himself. Less than 10 minutes and Genoa were 2-0 up, with another superb finish, this time from Goran Pandev, after great lead up play from Christian Kouame. Truth be told, nothing changed for either side with the result.
Atalanta 1-1 Chievo
The Flying Donkeys took the lead in Bergamo, as Riccardo Meggiorini beat the defense, past the goalkeeper and then hit a turning 180-degree shot into an open goal. La Dea pushed for the equalizer, but it was not until the 55th minute, they got in the game. Good build-up play, which ended with a one-two between Duvan Zapata and Josep Ilicic, was finished off by the Slovenian international. There would be no more goals. Atalanta’s hope of a Champions League place are still alive though.
Lazio 4-1 Parma
A commanding Lazio display over a woeful Crociati…Adam Marusic opened the scoring beating Parma goalkeeper Sepe at his near post with a shot from the right. A few minutes later and it was 2-0, as Luis Alberto scored a penalty from a Parma defender handball. The Spaniard got his second soon after, finishing off a well-worked move by the Biancocelesti down the left. On the stroke of half-time, it was 4-0, as Senad Lulic scored a training ground move, as he hit a first time shot into the goal straight from a slide rule pass off a corner. Mattia Sprocati got a consolation for the away side. Lazio are still in the Champions League hunt, while Parma’s season is as inconsistent as any team in Calcio.
Empoli 2-1 Frosinone
A relegation six-pointer won by the home team…The Tuscans took a 2-0 first-half lead through a Francesco Caputo penalty and a Marko Pajac bullet finish inside the box. The Azzurri had recalled former manager Aurelio Andreazzoli for a second time this season. The away side got a consolation in the second half, but they would get no closer. Empoli are in the last safe spot in the league, while Frosinone needs a miracle to avoid the drop.
Napoli 4-2 Udinese
An end to end game won by Partenopei…The home side raced into a 2-0 lead, firstly with a lovely finish from Amin Younes, who scored his first goal for the club and 10 minutes later, Jose Callejon with a scuffed shot that bubbled into the goal from a Dries Mertens cross., it was the second assist from the Belgium international. However, the Friulans battled back and tied the game with a quick double within five minutes. Fantastic work in the midfield from Danilo and Forfano set up Kevin Lasagna and the Italy international scored. Fofana, himself, got on the score-sheet, with a powerful shot inside the box.
There was a real moment of worry, as Napoli goalkeeper Davide Ospina had collapsed after earlier being clattered into by an Udinese attacker and he had to be replaced by Alex Meret. The Colombian was rushed to the hospital for tests. In the second, the home team took control for good this time, with an Arkadiusz Milik header from a corner and a lovely left-footed finish from Mertens. For Napoli, it’s all about getting into peak form for their Europa League quarter-final match with Arsenal, while Udinese are tied with Empoli in the 17th & last safe spot.
Milan 2-3 Inter
A thriller of a Derby Della Madonnina to cap off the round before we head to the international break…The Nerazzurri were the much better side to start with and duly took an early lead. An Ivan Perisic cross was headed back across goal by Lautaro Martinez and Matias Vecino was there, to blast the ball into the roof of the net. Lucas Paqueta forced a rather routine save from Samir Handanovic and the teams went into the interval. Right at the start of the second, il Biscione extended their lead. From a quickly taken corner, and with Milan players seemingly asleep, Stefan De Vrij headed into the goal.
A few minutes later though, the Rossoneri were back in it from a header of their own as Tiemoue Bakayoko headed home from a Hakan Calhanoglu free-kick. However, just 10 minutes later and the “away” side restored their two-goal lead. Samu Castillejo left a leg out, caught Matteo Politano, the ref, himself fell, but got up and pointed to the penalty spot. Martinez, playing in place of the “injured” Mauro Icardi converted. Again, Milan struck back through Mateo Musacchio who hammered home after the ball rebounded off an Inter defender from a Suso cross. il Diavolo had two great chances to complete the comeback, but Castellijo and Patrick Cutrone missed point-blank opportunities with a header and a right footed shot respectively. What. A. Derby. Inter deserved their win, leapfrogged their city rivals in the standings and there is much to ponder for both team’s as we head to the international break.