Chievo prevailed 3-2 over city rivals Hellas Verona at the end of a spectacular edition of the Derby della Scala. A goal by 38-year-old striker Sergio Pellissier made the difference, after Hellas came back to equalise Roberto Inglese’s brace, and held onto draw despite playing with one man less since 40’ of the first half.
The Clivensi, coached by Rolando Maran, caught their 4th win in 9 games and moved up to 15 point in the league table, a comfortable mid-standing position – with an interesting view over the Europa League qualification zone. Fabio Pecchia’s Scaligeri can complain about the early expulsion of an ingenuous Bruno Zuculini, but managed to hold onto the match until the last third of it, where tiredness left room for Chievo to gain control. After collecting their first win in Benevento last week, Pecchia left the derby with new certainties, despite the defeat.
Hellas Verona has scraped together only 6 points in these first nine rounds of Serie A, quite an inexplicable outcome if you look at the blend of experience and young talents that Pecchia could line up today: Former Juventus players Martin Caceres and Romulo Souza covered the back, while the forward line was composed by Azzurri-capped Alessio Cerci, Giampaolo Pazzini, and Roma home-grown Daniele Verde.
Chievo is the most experienced among Serie A clubs, a nice way to put that their lineup has the oldest average age among this season participants: goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino plus defenders Alessandro Gamberini, Massimo Gobbi, and Dario Dainelli combine 150 years among the four of them… Another “oldie,” forward Sergio Pellissier, was left on the bench for Manuel Pucciarelli to flank Roberto Inglese in a two-men attacking line supported by offensive midfielder Valter Birsa.
Not much attendance at Marc’Antonio Bentegodi Stadium in a gray and rainy day, for what is known as Derby della Scala – the “Scala” (a ladder) being the emblem of the historical Lords of Verona, and a symbol reclaimed by both teams. However, those few people on the stands made their voice heard on both sides, for a match that was set on fire only five minutes after the beginning.
Hellas’ Martin Caceres crossed from the right side, Giampaolo Pazzini’s movement confused Stefano Sorrentino, whose save sent the ball right on the foot of Daniele Verde. The 21-year-old raised by Roma was quick to tap the ball in for the Scaligeri’s unexpected early 0-1.
Reaction by Chievo was quick and effective. It became soon evident that the secret weapon for the yellow jerseys trained by Maran were going to be crosses and free kicks. At 14’, a cross by right back Fabrizio Cacciatore served the chance for a header to Valter Birsa: His conclusion ended over the crossbar, but sounded as a warning sign.
Rain started to pour violently over the Bentegodi Stadium, and coincided with Chievo’s equaliser. Bruno Zuculini concended a free kick and got a yellow card for holding on to an opponent – something to keep in mind for later. Valter Birsa’s free kick delivered a perfect ball to Roberto Inglese, who only had to push the ball past Nicolas Andrade with a header. Referee Rosario Abisso awarded the goal after consulting the VAR for an alleged offside position.
Zuculini added a new trophy to his disastrous afternoon a few minutes later, when he sent down Perparim Hetemaj in the box, for a penalty that Abisso had no doubt to award. Inglese converted the chance for his second daily goal, and overturn the situation for Chievo in less than 10 minutes.
The Derby di Verona seemed to come to an early end at 41’, when a slide by – guess who? – Zuculini was punished by the referee with a second yellow card. Hellas was left to play with one man less for more than one half of the match, and seemed to suffer additional pressure from the Clivensi: A beautiful overhead by Inglese went close to bringing them to three before half time.
Fabio Pecchia pulled out Alessio Cerci after the break to cover himself with an additional midfielder – Marcel Buchel – and his boys found the strength to rebalance the match just when you would think the plan was going to be avoiding getting more battering. Video assistance this time delivered a penalty to Hellas, clarifying for referee Abisso that a header by Martin Caceres in the box had hit Alessandro Gamberini’s arm.
Giampaolo Pazzini converted the second penalty to bring Hellas to 2-2, before leaving the pitch a few minutes later for young talent Moise Kean on loan from Juventus. However, the substitution that really changed direction to the derby happened on the other side, when coach Maran pulled out Manuel Pucciarelli and replaced him with eternal Sergio Pellissier, aged 38 years – 15 of which spent playing for Chievo!
Chievo’s bandiera gave a quick sample of his predator instinct when he moved past Hellas’ center backs to catch another excellent cross from the right side by Cacciatore, and transform it into his first seasonal goal.
The last minutes saw the leading team continuing to attack, as the Scaligeri started to pay the toll for their numerical inferiority. New striker Mariusz Stepinski was left free to hit the ball with a header on a long-range cross, and beat Nicolas Andrade for the 4th time – but the goal was cancelled by another VAR decision because of a narrow offside. Fair enough. 2-4 would have been too much of a punishment for a Hellas Verona that managed to keep the match open for more than two thirds of it, and showed more signs of growth after breaking the ice in Benevento last week.
What to say about Rolando Maran’s “old but gold?” Chievo seems to have find their edge after a stuttering start of the season. The other matches of the day, including Torino and Bologna’s defeats, made them climb up to the 7th spot in the standing. That’s better than you would have expected from pre-season predictions: Interesting to see if Maran and his boys can live up to their renewed ambitions.
CHIEVO VERONA-HELLAS VERONA 3-2
SCORERS: 5′ Verde (H); 23′ Inglese (C); 30′ Inglese (C, pen.); 55′ Pazzini (H, pen.); 73′ Pellissier (C)
CHIEVO (4-3-1-2): Sorrentino; Cacciatore, Dainelli, Gamberini, Gobbi; Castro, Radovanovic, Hetemaj; Birsa; Pucciarelli (62′ Pellissier), Inglese (80′ Stepinski). (Seculin, Confente, Jaroszynski, Rigoni, Garritano, Cesar, Depaoli, Tomovic, Meggiorini, Bastien) Coach: Maran
HELLAS VERONA (4-3-3): Nicolas; Caceres, Caracciolo, Souprayen, Fares; Romulo , Zuculini, Bessa; Cerci (46’ Buchel), Pazzini (70’ Kean), Verde (77′ Lee Seung Woo). (Silvestri, Coppola, Laner, Fossati, Zaccagni, Valoti, Kumbulla, Heurtaux, Felicioli) Coach: Pecchia
REFEREE: Mr. Abisso from Palermo
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Hetemaj, Gamberini (C), Bessa (H); Red Card: Zuculini (H); Extra Time: 2′ 1st Half, 3′ 2nd Half.