A lone goal by Patrick Cutrone during extra time pushed Milan past Coppa Italia Quarter Finals last night, as the Rossoneri beat city rivals Inter in an unusual post-Christmas Derby di Milano. Gennaro Gattuso caught the first significant success in his troubled tenure as Milan head coach, and will now face Lazio in the Italian national cup semifinal round, whereas Luciano Spalletti had to swallow the third defeat in a row.
Juventus beat Roma 1-0 in the last match of Serie A Round 18 last night, thanks to the outstanding performances of two who used to wear a Giallorossi jersey in the past – Mehdi Benatia and Wojciech Szczesny. Patrick Schick on the other hand, who was supposed to be playing for the Bianconeri by now, denied Roma an equaliser failing an easy shot during extra time, possibly writing an important page in the race for Scudetto.
Inter’s leadership in Serie A lasted only two weeks, as today Napoli took advantage of the Nerazzurri’s unexpected pas faux to regain the top spot of the standing. Inter fell for the first time this season, outclassed 3-1 by an Udinese led by striker Kevin Lasagna. Napoli stormed Torino with three goals in the first 45 minutes, with Marek Hamsik scoring after a ten-match abstinence as a cherry on the top.
A lone goal by Diego Perotti, among a flurry of disorderly attack chances, pushed Roma into the Round of 16 of Champions League after a one-year absence. The Giallorossi took longer than expected to burst through Qarabag’s defensive wall, but could ultimately celebrate finishing at the top of Group C, thanks to the simultaneous 1-1 tie between Chelsea and Atlético Madrid.
When Benevento began their season, Alberto Brignoli was not even their starting goalkeeper. But from today, he will be remembered as the one who gave his club their first point ever in the top division. His incredible late goal during extra time allowed the Streghe to equalise Milan’s lead, and capture and unexpected 2-2 tie. Gennaro Gattuso was surely hoping for a different outcome for his debut as Diavoli’s coach.
Juventus showed they are still not full after six titles in a row last night, as they beat Napoli 1-0 with a gol by Gonzalo Higuain. Maurizio Sarri’s squad conceded their first seasonal defeat, and saw the Bianconeri coming closer at -1 point from their leadership. It was not a great match to watch, with Juve finding again that impenetrable defense that had made their recent fortune, and Napoli appearing less brilliant than usual.
Vincenzo Montella’s adventure as coach of Milan ended today with a bare statement published on the club’s Twitter account. The Rossoneri announced his sacking, and his replacement with primavera (youth team) trainer Gennaro Gattuso. Montella also made his reaction public via Twitter. He remarked how honored he felt for having had the chance to coach the club based in Via Aldo Rossi, and wished the best to his successor.
He grasped onto his position despite the shame of Italy failing to qualify for the next World Cup, but in the end he had to take the step back that most Italians were asking him to take. Carlo Tavecchio called it quit today and resigned as President of FIGC – The Italian Football Federation, aka Federcalcio, at the end of an urgent advisory board meeting where he had to acknowledge that he no longer had the majority of it on his side.
When preparing to deliver the very last corner kick in Italy-Sweden, just moments before referee Mateu Lahoz blew the final whistle, Alessandro Florenzi kissed the ball. He put all his hopes, as well as one nation’s hopes, into that ball. It didn’t work. The Swedish fort held a few seconds more, and the score remained set on 0-0. Italy failed to overturn their 0-1 loss from three days ago in Solna, and missed the last train to Russia.
Italy lost 0-1 to Sweden in the first leg of their World Cup playoff match, making their road to Russia extremely complicated. While the goal that put the Suedes ahead originated from a Daniele De Rossi’s unfortunate deflection on a shot by Jakob Johansson, the Azzurri never gave the impression of being able to pose any real threat to the opponents’ goal.