Sassuolo Rue Wasted Chances In Home Draw Against Cagliari

The Mapei Stadium-Cittá del Tricolore witnessed the first game of Sassuolo in the 2020-21 Serie A campaign as they welcomed Sardinian rivals Cagliari in high spirits. They were enterprising in the 2019-20 season and wanted to continue in the same vein. However, it was not to be.

Sassuolo expressed themselves but their prolificacy in front of the goal cost them the points. On the other hand, Cagliari, barely managing to hold on in Serie A after a great start to the season in the previous campaign, showed resolve in their outing.

Giovanni Simeone broke Sassuolo’s hearts in the 77th minute as Cagliari threatened to run away with the points. However, Mehdi Bourabia scored from a smashing free-kick in the 87th minute.

Both sides had plenty of opportunities, the hosts enjoying the lion’s share but having nothing to show for. The different forms of the two sides at the end of last season was evident in the opening exchanges. The Neroverdi were on the front foot in their established fashion under Roberto De Zerbi, while the Islanders were cautious in their approach.

Sassuolo toyed with their rivals, keeping possession and building from the back. There was no urgency in getting the ball directly in the area but it did not mean they were not expressive in the attack. They created chance after chance that went begging time and time again.

Francesco Caputo did well to hold off his markers with Domenico Berardi and Lukas Haraslin creating from the wings. Manuel Locatelli was their driving engine from the midfield and the first to put Cagliari defenders under pressure with his second-minute shot.

The Neroverdi piled pressure from the left flank next, Lukas Haraslin’s solo run expertly saved by Alessio Cragno. Domenico Berardi joined the action, the Cariati native was unmarked in the area but his shot was a whisker away from the left post. It was all one-way traffic and forced the first yellow-card from Livio Marinelli. Haraslin was on the receiving end of a harsh Paolo Faragó and deservedly earned a caution from the referee.

Francesco Caputo should have been on the scoreboard in the 12th minute. But like with Haraslin before, Cragno was alert to deny him. The goalkeeper would also deny Berardi the chance two minutes later. The first quarter-hour would set the tone for the meeting, Sassuolo attacked with creativity but were denied time and time again.

Coach Eusebio Di Francesco’s plan was simple. Keep the hosts at bay and release Giovanni Simeone on the other end of the pitch. The Argentine striker was in good spirits and showed the tenacity that was reminiscent of his father.

Nahitan Nandez was the architect in chief for the visitors. The Uruguayan read the pitch well and released Simeone and his partner in crime Joao Pedro to give the Sassuolo defense something to worry about. Nandez gave an all-around display, helping in defense and was cautioned for his overzealous display.

It was an absorbing first half as Cagliari clawed themselves into the fixture. Scoring opportunities came at both ends but the first match of the season jitters was experienced by both Serie A minnows.

Vlad Chiriches of Sassuolo competes for the ball with Giovanni Simeone of Cagliari

De Zerbi changed his approach after the break. Sassuolo began prying direct options to catch their rivals off-guard. However, their attempts saw them fall to the offside trap in succession. Fifteen minutes of this and the Neroverdi were back to their buildup play.

Meanwhile, Cagliari began wrestling for the ball and enjoyed possession that was denied to them before. The Sassuolo defense stood firm and rejected their advances, as charming as they might have been.

The host’s defense finally gave away with 77 minutes on the clock. Just after Berardi had fired another shot wide of the target, Joao Pedro’s lofted cross on the other end of the pitch was expertly met by Simeone within the six-yard box. The 25-year-old did not disappoint and sent the ball past Andrea Consigli.

De Zerbi would have questioned his side’s mentality had they lost the game after dominating proceedings from the get-go. However, they rescued a point to show something for their efforts. Mehdi Bourabia drilled the ball into the top left corner of the goal from a free-kick after Fabio Pisacane had committed a foul at the edge of the box.

There were six minutes of added time but both sides could not conjure anything of merit. Sassuolo would rue their 21 attempts while the Isolani will be pleased with defensive output as well as efficiency in front of the goal.



September 20, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 1

SCORERS: 77′ Simeone (C), 87′ Bourabia (S)

SASSUOLO (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Rogerio (61’ Kyriakopoulos), Ferrari, Chirches, Toljan (75’ Muldur); Obiang (63’ Bourabia), Locatelli; Haraslin (63’ Defrel), Djuricic (90’ Ayhan), Berardi; Caputo (Pegolo, Turati, Marlon, Ricci, Traoré, Ghion) Coach: De Zerbi
CAGLIARI (4-1-4-1): Cragno; Lykogiannis, Klavan (46’ Pisacane), Walukiewicz, Faragó; Caligara (62’ Zappa); Joao Pedro (88’ Tripaldelli), Rog (76’ Sottil), Marin (76’ Oliva); Nandez; Simeone (Aresti, Vicario, Pinna, Pavoletti, Ladinetti, Carboni, Pajac) Coach: Di Francesco

REFEREE: Mr. Marinelli from Tivoli
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Chirches (S), Faragó, Nandez, Rog (C); Extra Time: 1st Half 4′; 2nd Half 6′