Another exhilarating Serie A matchday is almost over, and it’s time to look back at this weekend’s highlight moments. From Milan’s comeback to Inter’s Derby d’Italia triumph, we’re taking you through the most exciting stories of Gameweek 23.
Jovic Does It Again
Milan seemed to be on the verge of losing points from winning positions again as Frosinone replied to Olivier Giroud’s early opener with back-to-back unanswered goals to take the lead midway through the second half. After last weekend’s heartbreaking 2-2 home draw against Bologna, even Stefano Pioli must have doubted his men’s chances of putting three points on the board.
However, like the match against Udinese, Milan regrouped after falling behind to claim a third consecutive Serie A victory on hostile turf. Rossoneri returnee Matteo Gabbia headed home from point-blank range to initiate the comeback before Luka Jovic added to his ever-growing tally only moments after taking Christian Pulisic’s place on the field.
The in-form forward scored his seventh goal of the season with his first touch of the game, pouncing on the loose ball inside the Frosinone penalty area to beat Stefano Turati with a perfectly-placed half-volley in the 81st minute. Though Milan’s hopes of catching up with leaders Inter are dead in the water, Jovic’s winning streak at least consolidated their bid to secure a fourth successive top-four finish in Serie A.
Khvicha Magic Sends Naples Into Raptures
After failing to produce a single shot on target in a Serie A match for the first time in over a decade in last week’s dismal 0-0 draw at Lazio, Napoli had to beat a beleaguered Hellas Verona side at home to reignite their top-four pursuit. Faced with a deficit and without standout striker Victor Osimhen, under-pressure boss Walter Mazzarri needed a new hero to avoid another humiliation.
Marco Baroni’s depleted lineup, crippled by as many as 12 January departures, took the lead in the 72nd minute through Diego Coppola. However, Cyril Ngonge couldn’t have found a better way to introduce himself to the Stadio Diego Maradona crowd than scoring against a club he left only last month.
In a game of incredible misses and Lorenzo Montipo’s stunning saves, Ngonge provided a moment of composure to restore parity after latching on to Jesper Lindstrom’s cutback inside the box. But with the clock running out and Napoli unable to turn the match on its head, the hosts turned to their talismanic winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia for salvation.
With three minutes left, the Georgian superstar picked the ball close to Verona’s box and unleashed a curled effort into the top corner to get the reigning Serie A champions back to winning ways.
Rampant La Dea Hasten Sarri’s Dismissal
It’s no coincidence Atalanta are the joint-best home side in Serie A. Gian Piero Gasperini’s free-firing squad ripped an underperforming Lazio apart with a comprehensive 3-1 victory at the Gewiss Stadium, extending their superb run to nine wins in their last 11 outings across all competitions.
Mario Pasalic opened the scoring in the 16 minute before Milan loanee Charles De Ketelaere doubled Atalanta’s lead on the stroke of halftime from the spot. With their backs against the wall, Maurizio Sarri’s side looked as clueless as they did in last Sunday’s goalless home draw against Napoli.
However, this time, they faced an opposition far more capable of penetrating their decent-performing backline. Seeking a ninth win in their 12th Serie A home fixture this season, Atalanta refused to rest on their laurels after bringing Lazio to their knees in the opening 45 minutes. Instead, they continued to apply pressure after the break.
Gasperini’s attacking-minded football paid dividends in the 76th minute when De Ketelaere completed his brace with a beautiful solo goal to seal Atalanta’s sixth consecutive Serie A win on home turf. Lazio salvaged some pride as Ciro Immobile slotted home a late penalty, but whether it’d be enough to save Sarri’s job remains to be seen.
Gatti Paints Derby d’Italia Nerazzurri
The Serie A title was on the line as eternal rivals Inter and Juventus locked horns in the latest edition of the iconic Derby d’Italia at Giuseppe Meazza. Despite a morale-damaging 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Empoli in the previous round, Massimiliano Allegri’s side headed into proceedings in high spirits.
Unbeaten since a 4-2 defeat at Sassuolo in September, Juventus hoped to disrupt Inter’s perfect harmony following a third straight Supercoppa Italiana title last month. But little did they know they’d be swept aside by Simone Inzaghi’s high-flyers in one of the most one-sided affairs in the recent history of this fixture.
Restricted to a single shot on target, Juventus were indebted to Wojciech Szczesny’s outrageous performance between the sticks for finishing on the receiving end of a 1-0 scoreline. Federico Gatti’s own goal sunk the record-time Serie A champions, yet Inter fully deserved three points as they arrested a three-match winless league run against the Turin powerhouse.
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