The saddest of Serie A rounds, the one cancelled one month ago after the shocking passing of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, was recovered between Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven matches out of ten still needed to be played. The program featured a long-awaited Derby di Milano, but the stracittadina didn’t live up to expectations and ended with no goals. Therefore, the stage was stolen by Andrea Belotti and his three goals, which put a smile back on the face of one of the top Italian strikers, despite a tormented season.
A careless Atalanta revived Sampdoria, which came back to win after three losses in a row. Two macroscopic defensive mistakes, one by Rafael Toloi and one by Nicolas Haas, propitiated the Blucerchiati’s goals by Gianluca Caprari and then by Duvan Zapata. Between them, Toloi had partially redeemed himself scoring the temporary equaliser. Sampdoria reached Atalanta at 47 points, and together with Fiorentina, will have to fight until the very last round to capture a Europa League spot for the coming season.
Photo: Lapresse/Mauro Locatelli
Sure, it may be too late to think about a miracle. But even if Benevento soon bids an early farewell to Serie A, games such as the one played against direct rivals Verona made their season worthwhile. The Giallorossi demolished the Scaligeri with a wonderful goal by Gaetano Letizia, and a double by Cheick Diabaté in the second half – all in front of their president Oreste Vigorito, who came back to the stadium after recovering from some health issues. Safety is still only four points away for Verona, but the Gialloblu seen in these recent weeks will have to fight hard to keep the hope alive.
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A thrilling conclusion of the match at Marc’Antonio Bentegodi Stadium saw Sassuolo grasping one point at the very last breath, and despite being left with nine men only. An early expulsion by Claud Adjapong deluded Chievo, which however found their lead only in the 72nd minute with Roberto Giaccherini. Then Francesco Magnanelli from the Neroverdi was also sent off, but a seemingly innocuous free kick by 20-year-old Francesco Cassata gave Sassuolo a shocking equaliser when the clock was striking minute 95. A tie that is of little use to both clubs, but luckily enough for them, relegations rivals Verona and Crotone were both defeated.
Genoa captured three important points right at the end of a game which Cagliari probably didn’t deserve to lose. Man of the match was debutant Iuri Medeiros, lined up by coach Davide Ballardini from the start for the first time. The Portuguese found the decisive goal with a bend left shot in the 90th minute, after Niccolò Barella had made it even for Cagliari from the penalty kick spot. The first goal of the night was scored by Gianluca Lapadula for the Rossoblu, which moved to 34 points and can consider themselves virtually safe.
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An unusual Derby della Madonnina played at 6.00 PM ended with a goalless tie that serves much more the Nerazzurri’s purpose that the Rossoneri’s. Luciano Spalletti managed to keep their cousins at a safety distance of 8 points, and is starting to see the light at the of the tunnel of their tormented season, despite the bad day of Mauro Icardi. Inter’s captain missed two clear goal chances, and when he did actually manage to score, he was spotted in offside position by the VAR. Milan’s best chance fell on the head of Leonardo Bonucci, but Samir Handanovic denied him the joy of a second goal in a row. Gennaro Gattuso’s glass is half full any way, as the former Primavera coach was just offered a contract renewal with the Rossoneri until 2021.
It was the day of Andrea Belotti’s comeback. The Gallo scored three times and brought the ball home, pushing his Torino towards the second consecutive win – again with four goals. Iago Falque made it two for the Granata after Belotti had drawn first blood, and before he could score twice more to complete his hat trick. For Walter Zenga’s Crotone, who also had to face the injury of midfielder Ahmad Benali (the season over for him…), the only meager consolation was a goal by Davide Faraoni during extra time.
Fiorentina prevailed in the most difficult game, the one that was cancelled one month ago after the tragic death of Davide Astori. The Dacia Arena emotionally applauded in the 13th minute – the number of Davide – when images of the former Fiorentina captain where shown on the scoreboard. Then, the Viola made the best out of a penalty kick conceded for a foul on Federico Chiesa, and converted by Jordan Veretout. In the second half, El Cholito Giovanni Simeone doubled four minutes after setting foot on the pitch, and condemned Massimo Oddo’s Friulani to their seventh loss in a row.