Pazzini, Stepinski Put Verona Ahead of SPAL In Relegation Battle

Verona began the new year by winning 2-0 in Ferrara against SPAL in a key battle to avoid relegation. Goals by Giampaolo Pazzini and Mariusz Stepinski put the Scaligeri ahead of the Biancazzurri side, which played with one man less for 55 minutes after Nenad Tomovic was sent off.

Ivan Juric’s squad came back to the pitch 20 days their spectacular 3-3 comeback against Torino. Disqualified winger Nordin Amrabat was substituted by season debutant Matteo Pessina. Juric lined up his side with a 3-4-2-1 module where Pazzini and Stepinski constituted the front line, whereas Samuel Di Carmine remained on the bench.

SPAL’s coach Leonardo Semplici mirrored his counterpart’s three-man defense, lining up five midfielders and putting Andrea Petagna and Alberto Paloschi in charge of the offensive operations.

Verona took the lead after 15 minutes of predominance as Darko Lazovic crossed from the right, and 35-year-old Giampaolo Pazzini took advantage of defender Igor Julio’s bad positioning to put the Gialloblu ahead with a header. It was the second goal in a row for Il Pazzo, who had also scored from the penalty spot against Torino before Christmas.

SPAL tried an immediate reaction, and went close to make it even with a left-foot shot by Petagna which narrowly missed the target. However, things took a bad turn for the home side in the 39th minute, when referee Marco Guida waved a direct card at Nenad Tomovic, consequence of a tackle on Verona’s Davide Faraoni.

There were no changes in the lineups during the break, and Verona went to close to double their lead in the 54th minute: Mattia Zaccagni served Pazzini’s from the left, but Il Pazzo’s finish found goalkeeper Erit Berisha’s right-foot deflection.  

SPAL remained afloat thanks to another save by their goalie, who denied Giampaolo Pazzini again in the 71st minute, after Miguel Veloso’s long-range cross had sent Verona’s striker one-on-one with him. The Biancazzurri managed to shot for the first time only two minutes later, but both Mattia Valoti and eventually Andrea Petagna’s scoring attempts earned no result.

Verona scored the second and wrapped-up a key win in their relegation battle with just five minutes to go, as Dariusz Stepinski tapped the ball in after Erit Berisha had pushed back Darko Lazovic’s shot from the left. Juric’s side moved to 22 points in the table with one match still to play, and can positively look forward to next clash against Genoa – another essential match to keep their hopes of remaining in the top flight alive.

SPAL found themselves off to a bad start. Their later success against Torino, which had closed their 2019 on a positive note, is already a pale memory.    


January 5, 2020 – Serie A 2019-2020 Round 17

SCORERS: 14′ Pazzini, 86′ Stepinski

SPAL (3-5-2): Berisha; Tomovic, Vicari (77′ Felipe), Igor; Cionek, Kurtic, Missiroli, Valoti, Strefezza (83′ Floccari); Paloschi, Petagna (Letica, Thiam, Salamon, Jankovic, Murgia, Tunjov, Valdifiori, Cannistrà, Mastrilli, Di Francesco) Coach: Semplici
HELLAS VERONA (3-4-2-1): Silvestri; Rrahmani, Kumbulla, Gunter; Faraoni, Pessina, Veloso, Lazovic; Verre (90′ Dawidowicz), Zaccagni (79′ Badu); Pazzini (72′ Stepinski) (Berardi, Radunovic, Bocchetti, Adjapong, Gasolina Wesley, Vitale, Henderson, Danzi, Di Carmine) Coach: Juric

REFEREE: Mr. Guida from Pompei
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Strefezza (S), Zaccagni (H); Red Card: Tomovic (S)

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