The Serie A amusement park reopened after a one-week break, and saw Juventus promptly jumping back to +4 over Napoli, as the Neapolitans were held to a tie by Sassuolo. The Bianconeri, on the other hand, overcame Milan 3-1 in the partitissima of the weekend. The thrilling battle for the top scorer title between Ciro Immobile and Mauro Icardi continued, with both bombers scoring twice to lead respectively Lazio and Inter to winning their games, and reducing their distance versus third-placed Roma. But the emotional climax of the weekend was a unanimous, tender remembrance of Emiliano Mondonico – the coach famous for having led Torino to a UEFA Cup Final, who passed away earlier in the week.
The Orobici had not been winning against Udinese in the last nine direct confrontations. The spell was finally broken yesterday, with a quick one-two by Andrea Petagna and Andrea Masiello, but prevailing over an Udinese in a pretty bad shape (sixth consecutive loss for Massimo Oddo’s Friulani) was easy work. The Atleti Azzurri d’Italia Stadium dedicated an emotional celebration to Emiliano Mondonico, who spent many years in Bergamo both as a player and a coach.
Roma’s head was clearly at the upcoming Champions League quarterfinals match in Barcelona, but tying 1-1 in Bologna made the Giallorossi’s third spot in the league less stable, as direct rivals Lazio and Inter both took three points. Plus, Radja Nainggolan was forced to leave the pitch after just 17 minutes due to a muscular sprain, and his presence at the Camp Nou is now in doubt. Definitely a bad day for coach Eusebio Di Francesco, whose boys were saved by Edin Dzeko after Erick Pulgar had given the home side an early lead. The fairytale of the day is the Serie A debut of Bologna’s third goalkeeper Antonio Santurro at 26: Prior to today, he had only played in third division at most.
After a goalless first half, Torino dominated the second 45 minutes, scoring four times and breaking a four-game losing streak. It’s difficult to say whether the game trend changed due to Adem Ljiajc being sent in, or to a violent rainstorm hitting the Sardegna Arena. But fact is, after these two concurring events, there was only one side left on the pitch – the Granata. Goals by Iago Falque, Ljajic himself, Cristian Ansaldi, and Joel Obi put a smile back on Walter Mazzarri’s face. Four goals also dedicated to Mondonico, who had reached the zenith of his coaching career with the Granata.
Chievo breathe again after three losses in a row, and make a step towards safety. Sampdoria on the other hand, collect their third consecutive defeat, and now see their Europa League spot at risk. The Blucerchiati had taken the lead in the first half with a penalty kick converted by Fabio Quagliarella. But after the break, the game took a different turn when Lucas Castro equalised for the Clivensi. Then, a long range cross from the left by Perparim Hetemaj was missed in the box by Roberto Inglese, but his movement was enough to mislead Samp’s goalie Emiliano Viviano, who also missed it: Ball in the net, and final 2-1 for Chievo.
Fiorentina makes it four, extending their winning streak to four games despite three key defections in their usual lineup, and keeping a small hope of capturing a Europa League spot for the next season alive. Their 2-0 win over Crotone was built by figli d’arte Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone – the sons of two former Serie A players, Enrico Chiesa and current Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone. For Walter Zenga’s Pitagorici – 3 points only in the last five matches – times are getting tough.
SPAL continue their battle to avoid relegation, one point at a time: With both Crotone and Verona losing their matches, a tie in Genoa was still a good thing. The home side benefited of two penalty kicks conceded by VAR, but the second one looked dubious to say the least, despite the technological verdict. Spallini’s goalkeeper Alex Meret caused the first penalty in the 4th minute, but promptly redeemed himself saving the subsequent shot by Gianluca Lapadula. Later on, the former Milan striker intercepted a back pass by Felipe, dribbled Meret, and then fell in the box without Francesco Vicari toching him. Referee Daniele Orsato took five minutes to deliberate after consulting the VAR: He sent SPAL’s defender off and awarded a new penalty, which Lapadula converted this time. In the second half, the Biancazzurri found a well-deserved equaliser with Manuel Lazzari.
40 seconds. It took just 40 seconds for Mauro Icardi, who was celebrated before the match for reaching the 100 Serie A goals milestone two weeks ago, to open a gash in Verona’s defense and quickly give the Nerazzurri the lead. Ivan Perisic found the second goal in the 12th minute, converting for the best a long-range pass by Marcelo Brozovic, then served Icardi an assist for Maurito to make it three with a slide. Verona’s goalie Nicolas was sent off during extra time, and his place among the posts was taken by midfielder Romulo: He produced himself in a super save on a shot by Borja Valero. A meager consolation for Verona supporters, who will need to look for some safety points somewhere else.
Juventus captured three fundamental points by beating Milan, but the game at Allianz Stadium was tougher for the Bianconeri than the final score may suggest. Click here to read our full recap of the match.
If your goalkeeper is sent off after just 8 minutes for touching the ball with his hands outside the box, you can bet that it’s not going to be a good day for you. Still, Benevento managed to overturn Ciro Immobile’s initial lead for Lazio thanks to the goals by Cristiano Lombardi (a former Lazio player himself, who didn’t celebrate after scoring) and Guilherme. But as minutes passed by, the Biancocelesti inevitably steamrolled the opponents as expected. Ciro Immobile scored again, thus becoming the all-time top scorer in a single season for Lazio, after Felipe Caicedo and the departing Stefan de Vrij had brought Lazio back ahead. Lucas Leiva and then Luis Alberto set the score to 6-2. Lazio came back to win at their home Olimpico ground after more than one month. For the Streghe, it’s time to start thinking about their next Serie B season.
Napoli are tired. Having a lineup of 12-13 potential starting players only, and a big gap with the rest of the squad is starting to take its toll. The Partenopei had a really hard time leveling off the goal scored in the first half by Matteo Politano, despite a 73% ball possession for Napoli. Neroverdi’s keeper Andrea Consigli denied at least four clear scoring attempts for the visitors, which finally made it even with Jose’ Callejon in the 80th minute. It looked like an easy round on paper for Napoli, which on the other hand found themselves back four points behind leading Juventus.