Italian football fans have just been treated to the first full round of Serie A action since the restart, and it was peppered with talk of relegation, European qualification and of course, the Scudetto.
In Round 27 of the Serie A season – the second batch of fixtures since the restart – both Milan and Parma stole headlines with their 4-1 wins away at Lecce and Genoa respectively, whilst those two losing sides remain seven points clear of SPAL, who seem all-but-relegated with 11 games to go.
Elsewhere, Inter and Sassuolo played out a thrilling 3-3 draw, and Atalanta staged a dramatic comeback to beat Lazio 3-2, as they look for a place in next season’s Champions League tournament, and Lazio seemingly loosen their grip on the title.
So we start at the top, and with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo:
Another Record For Ronaldo
Since his Serie A arrival, Italian football in general has seen a huge boom in popularity. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has now scored 22 goals in the league this season – add that to his 21 from last season and that takes him to 43 Italian top-flight goals.
He netted a first-half penalty to set Juventus on their way to victory at Bologna, and it was a goal that took him past Rui Costa in the Portuguese scorers’ list in Italy, meaning that Ronaldo is now the highest-scoring Portuguese player in Serie A history.
Another fine achievement to add to the ever-growing CV of Cristiano Ronaldo.
D’Aversa Hails “Extraordinary” Parma
Andreas Cornelius registered a hat-trick in Parma’s 4-1 win at Genoa – a win that manager Roberto D’Aversa has downplayed after his side surpassed Milan into 7th, and find themselves very much in the mix for European football next season.
“My lads are something extraordinary, beyond all expectations,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “Despite suffering injuries, we have never made any excuses and I want the lads to get the right merit.”
“The fans are free to dream about what they want. I think the club sets the goals and I think there are other clubs who are more structured.”
Parma have been the league’s surprise package this season, and sitting just three points behind 6th-place Napoli, the fans have every right to dream about European football next season.
Calhanoglu Shines In Lecce Win – New Contract Imminent?
Milan were the other 4-1 winners in Round 27 – thumping the relegation-threatened Lecce as Hakan Calhanoglu inspired them to victory. The Turk managed two assists in the game and reminded fans of his capabilities when he’s at his best.
After that performance as well, it’s been reported that he’ll now extend his stay at the club, with in-bound manager Ralf Rangnick reportedly keen on sealing Calhanoglu’s future at Milan.
The Turk has often come under criticism from Milan fans, but in victories like these it’s clear to see that, not only is he a technically talented footballer, but when he plays well, so do Milan.
Sassuolo Stick Out Six-Goal Thriller at The San Siro
Sassuolo took their unbeaten run at the San Siro to five after they came from behind twice in the final ten minutes of their game against Inter. Francesco Caputo fired them into an early before Romelu Lukaku equalized from the spot, with Cristiano Biraghi putting Inter back in front before the break.
Roberto Gagliardini missed an open goal to put Inter two ahead, allowing Sassuolo to come back into the game moments later – Domenico Berardi converting. Inter piled on the pressure with 10 minutes remaining, and were soon back into the lead through the 35-year-old Borja Valero.
The sixth and final goal of the game was another unfamiliar example of poor defending from Inter, who allowed Giangiacomo Magnani space in the six-yard to tap home the loose ball. Then to cap a crazy night at the San Siro, Milan Skriniar was sent off for a meaningless second yellow card.
“Lazy” Lazio Lose Sight of the Title as Atalanta Come Back to Win
After Inter’s earlier kick-off, it allowed Lazio the chance to pull away from Antonio Conte’s side, and further cement themselves in the top-two of the Serie A table along with Juve. They faced an Atalanta squad who’ve become one of the most popular sides in the league of late, but after just 11-minutes, Lazio had a two goal lead.
Marten De Roon fired the ball into the back of his own net for the first, before Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored a spectacular second. But Atalanta would be back into it before half-time, after Robin Gosens scored a fine headed goal.
The game was level midway through the second-half when Ruslan Malinovsky scored a thunderous goal from range, and the comeback was complete in Atalanta’s favor when Jose Palomino headed home in the 80th-minute – his side’s 77th goal in Serie A this season.
It’s a loss that leaves Lazio now four points behind leaders Juve, whilst Atalanta open up a six point gap over Roma in 5th, who themselves claimed a 2-1 win over Sampdoria last night. The title then looks set to be heading for Juve, whilst Atalanta look set for a spot in next season’s Champions League.