Serie A Spotlight: Protagonists of Sunday’s Football Spectacle

Welcome to the exhilarating rollercoaster ride that was Sunday’s Serie A action – a spectacle of football drama, thrilling comebacks, and epic disappointments. 

Lecce’s last-gasp penalty in a dramatic 1-1 home draw against Bologna kicked things off before Fiorentina, Udinese, and Hellas Verona scored three goals each in the 15:00 time slot. An action-packed start to the day was perhaps the most fitting overture to what came in the late afternoon as Roma and Inter produced enthralling contests en route to beating Sassuolo and Napoli, respectively.   

Buckle up as we dive into the highs of another breathtaking day in Serie A.

Lorenzo Lucca

Dacia Arena witnessed incredible scenes as Udinese let a two-goal cushion slip through their fingers in a stunning 3-3 draw against fellow bottom-half rivals Hellas Verona. Lorenzo Lucca ran the show, using every tool at his disposal to drive Gabriele Cioffi’s side to only their second Serie A win of the season, but to no avail. 

Despite starting on the bench, the 23-year-old striker joined the fray after only seven minutes due to Isaac Success’ injury. It took him 23 minutes to make his mark. Dancing on the edge of an offside position, the ex-Ajax forward slipped behind his markers to meet Robert Pereyra’s cross and put Udinese 2-0 up following Christian Kabasele’s early opener. 

Verona replied through Milan Djuric’s first-half penalty and Cyril Ngonge’s scintillating overhead kick before Lucca restored Udinese’s advantage. In a manner of old-school No 9s, he patiently waited on the far post for Florian Thauvin’s deep cross to come his way. He still had everything to do, powering his long-range header into the bottom corner.

Unfortunately, Lucca’s heroics were in vain as Thomas Henry took advantage of Marco Silvestri’s poor reaction to snatch a point for Verona at the death.

Rasmus Kristensen

Until Sunday, Rasmus Kristensen was on the verge of earning a ‘flop’ tag following an underwhelming start to his loan spell at Roma. The Leicester City loanee failed to live up to the billing in the early goings, falling behind long-serving right-back Rick Karsdrop in the pecking order. 

Jose Mourinho unsurprisingly left him on the bench as Roma headed to the Mapei Stadium to encounter Sassuolo. However, things didn’t go Giallorossi’s way, with Matheus Henrique propelling Alessio Dionisi’s side 1-0 up at halftime. Karsdorp fell victim to the visitors’ dismal first-half showing. 

Mourinho introduced Kristensen at the start of the second half. But not even he could’ve imagined the impact the Danish defender would have. The 26-year-old showed quick footwork to get past two Sassuolo defenders and draw a penalty, sending Paulo Dybala to the spot. The Argentine leveled the score in the 76th minute.

Only six minutes later, Kristensen completed the turnaround with one of the most fortunate strikes you’ll see in Serie A this term. He took his chances with his weaker left foot from the edge of the box, with the ball deflecting off one of Sassuolo’s defenders and finishing behind Andrea Consigli’s back. 

Roma protected their lead down the final stretch to post a 2-1 and leapfrog Napoli into fourth. 

Nicolo Barella

Despite being heavily criticized for his sub-par showings for Italy, Nicolo Barella remains one of Inter’s most dependable first-team stars. Scoreless in his first 13 Serie A appearances this season, the dynamic midfielder was never expected to trouble Napoli’s backline in a mouth-watering clash at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

However, it was quite the opposite. The 26-year-old delivered the best performance in 2023/24 to inspire Inter to a thumping 3-0 win against the reigning champions. He first laid the ball off to Hakan Calhanoglu, whose outrageous strike from outside the box opened the scoring on the brink of halftime. 

Sunday’s Serie A derby could’ve still gone either way before Barella’s first goal of the new campaign landed a knockout blow on Napoli. Latuaro Martinez picked him out on the penalty area’s periphery. Yet, with three Partenopei defenders in front of him, the Italian still had work to do. He danced past the challenges before calmly putting the ball past Alex Meret to give Inter a two-goal lead and kill the game off. 

Marcus Thuram poured more misery on the out-of-sorts title holders in the 85th minute, but Barella soaked up the limelight as the man of the match.

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