Simone Zaza Brace Sweetens Davide Nicola Debut on Torino Bench

The takeaway from Friday night’s Serie A game at the Stadio Ciro Vigorito in Benevento is that Torino are still alive, as the Granata grabbed one point with a late goal from Simone Zaza that set the score at 2-2.

It was not the perfect start for Torino’s new coach Davide Nicola but, given that his side was down 2-0, he can consider his debut a positive and encouraging one. The former Crotone coach took charge of the Granata only four days ago after Marco Giampaolo was sacked. It was a dream coming true for Nicola, who was born and raised in the Turin area and has been a Torino fan since childhood.

In a season where very few things went the right way so far, perhaps a familiar face was all that Torino needed to recover at least their traditional grit. Better results will follow, but for now seeing Torino put up a fight was enough – along with Simone Zaza scoring his first goals since November.

Nicola mostly picked up from where Giampaolo had left as he continued to line up the Granata with a 3-5-2 formation featuring Zaza and Andrea Belotti on the front line. Filippo Inzaghi resorted to his traditional 4-3-2-1 with Andrés Tello and Gianluca Caprari supporting forward Gianluca Lapadula.

The Torino from the first half, however, was pretty similar to the quivering side seen so far this season. After nine minutes, the Granata were already one goal down as Kamil Glik tapped the ball in from a Salvatore Sirigu save. A VAR check, however, caught the Polish defender controlling the ball with his hand before shooting and invalidated his effort.

Simone Zaza should have made it to the scoresheet on 26 minutes, but failed to make the best out of a golden chance gift-wrapped by a misunderstanding between Lorenzo Montipò and Federico Barba.

That was the only shooting attempt in the first half from Torino, who found themselves trailing as Nicolas Viola converted a penalty sparking from a contact between Sirigu and Lapadula. Not without controversy, if truth be told: When the keeper knocked Benevento’s striker down, the ball was already out of play.

Four minutes into the second half, the Streghe doubled their lead as Gianluca Lapadula found a Ricardo Rodriguez deflection to put the ball past Montipò. It looked like another dreadful night for Torino, but just two minutes later Zaza found his first goal of the night, heading the ball home from a clinical Wilfried Singo cross.

The goal seemed to galvanize the Granata, who suddenly took control of the match and risked equalizing in multiple occasions: A Singo screamer ended just a few inches away from the goal target, then Andrea Belotti tested Lorenzo Montipò’s reflexes and found Benevento’s keeper equal to the task.

On 62 minutes, Simone Zaza had his second but the VAR cancelled his exploit as it caught a Belotti handball in the buildup. The Rooster also saw a winning effort of his disallowed on grounds of offside.

As Benevento failed to create any more scoring chances – except for a Perparim Hetemaj shot that went crashing above the crossbar – Torino continued to attack and definitely deserved an equalizer. Zaza went so much close to bag his brace again with just two minutes to go, only to see his left-foot effort missing the target by a few inches.

On 93 minutes, however, there were neither handballs nor offside to deny the Granata a well-deserved joy: Belotti’s pass for Zaza was regular this time, and the former Azzurri forward could finally have his second of the night. Torino’s perseverance bore fruit. Their problems are far from solved, but tonight the made the first step in the right direction.



January 22, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 19

SCORERS: 31′ Viola (B, pen.), 49′ Lapadula (B), 51′ Zaza (T), 93′ Zaza (T)

BENEVENTO (4-3-2-1): Montipò; Tuia, Barba, Glik, Improta; Hetemaj, Viola, Ionita (84′ Dabo); Tello (67′ Caldirola), Caprari (76′ Di Serio); Lapadula (83′ Iago Falque) (Manfredini, Lucatelli, Maggio, Pastina, Basit, Insigne, Masella) Coach: F. Inzaghi
TORINO (3-5-2): Sirigu; Izzo (46′ Buongiorno), Lyanco, Rodriguez (82′ Gojak); Singo, Lukic (74′ Verdi), Rincon, Linetty (66′ Baselli), Ansaldi; Belotti, Zaza (Milinkovic Savic, Rosati, Bremer, Murru, Segre, Edera, Bonazzoli) Coach: Nicola

REFEREE: Mr. Giacomelli from Trieste
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Glik (B), Linetty, Zaza, Baselli (T); Extra Time: 1st Half 4′, 2nd Half 5′