Spezia Smash Benevento to Win Early Relegation Play-Out

In what could have very well been an early relegation play-out, Spezia totally outclassed Benevento at the Ciro Vigorito Stadium and came up with a convincing 0-3 win. A brace from M’bala Nzola – who scored his first goals in Serie A today – rounded up the tally for Vincenzo Italiano’s side after Tommaso Pobega’s second goal in a row opened the scoring for the Aquilotti in the first half.

Filippo Inzaghi’s Benevento, who had caught two wins out of their three initial games, have now collected four defeats in a row and appeared to be dramatically regressing comparing to their initial outings this season. The Streghe have conceded 20 goals so far but, what’s worse, they failed to make it to the scoresheet tonight for the first time as they never managed to trouble the opposition’s goalie.

For Benevento, the only change versus the lineup that lost 1-3 to Verona on Monday was Marco Sau replacing Gianluca Caprari who was serving a one-match ban.

Spezia, on the other hand, had 12 players unavailable – including last minute injured Paolo Bartolomei, who was replaced by Nahuel Estevez in midfield. With strikers Andrei Galabinov and Daniele Verde also injured, Italiano chose Kevin Agudelo, M’bala Nzola, and Emmanuel Gyasi to form his usual three-man attack.

It was not going to be a good night for the home Giallorossi and perhaps that became clear already in the 24th minute as Daam Foulon raised a white flag due to a shoulder injury and was replaced by veteran Christian Maggio.

For Spezia, the first chance was a free kick from Simone Bastoni that found deflections from Emmanuel Gyasi and M’bala Nzola on the far post but none of them managed to hit the target. Spezia tried again from the same free kick spot a few minutes later, this time prompting Lorenzo Montipò’s clearance.

The Aquilotti definitely appeared the more active side in a tactically blocked match and took themselves ahead from their very first scoring opportunity as Tommaso Pobega came up with a brilliant right-foot finish from a Salva Ferrer long-range cross from the right side. It was the second goal in a row for Milan’s youth academy product who already scored one week ago to Juventus.

Benevento promptly looked to hit back but Gianluca Lapadula’s effort hit Ivan Provedel’s left post. Provedel’s gloves were tested again one minute later by Marco Sau and Spezia’s custodian proved to be up to the task. Those would end up being the Streghe‘s only major attempts to draw level.

Spezia could have doubled their advantage in the 35th minute, but Bastoni’s close-range effort at the end of a fine team effort was not quite on target. In the 40th minute, a new chance for the visitors took them close to increase their tally: Kevin Agudelo set himself free and served the ball to Nahuel Estevez, whose progression on the right flank ended with a cross for Emmanuel Gyasi. The Italian-Ghanaian’s conclusion, however, could have been better.

Vincenzo Italiano also had to resort to an unexpected change as Julian Chabot had to give way to Cristian Dell’Orco before the break, but all in all the coach could be happy with his side’s performance so far.

At half time, Filippo Inzaghi left Bryan Dabo in the locker room and replaced him with Riccardo Improta – whose first endeavor was getting booked after left than one minute into the second half.

The trend didn’t seem to change with Spezia continuing to attack but, unfortunately for them, it was the crossbar to deny Kevin Agudelo on 52 minutes as the Colombian conjured a sensational curl from out of the box that honestly deserved a better outcome.

The Aquilotti, however, extended their lead in the 64th minute with M’bala Nzola’s first Serie A goal. Tommaso Pobega stole the ball to Artur Ionita in midfield and served the Frenchman, who delivered it to Emmanuel Gyasi. Spezia’s number 11 went straight past Christian Maggio and whipped the ball to the far post for Nzola to tap in.

Four minutes later, Estevez challenged Montipò on his near post, prompting the custodian to deflect the ball in corner – something that would prove fatal for Benevento: From the subsequent set piece, Nzola added to his personal tally as he jumped ahead of Ionita (perhaps fouling him, if truth be told…) to head the ball home and make it three for Spezia.

There was not much else to report as Inzaghi’s whirlwind of substitutions didn’t produce anything worth mentioning and referee Gianluca Aureliano blew the final whistle with no added time. It was a fundamental win for Spezia – a club that is proving to be this Serie A’s surprise despite the multiple defections and that has in young Tommaso Pobega a potential star in the making.

On the other hand – there is very little that Filippo Inzaghi can save from tonight’s performance and Benevento’s four losses in a row should better prompt some reaction from president Oreste Vigorito’s club.



November 7, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 7

SCORERS: 28′ Pobega, 65′ Nzola, 70′ Nzola

BENEVENTO (4-2-3-1): Montipò; Letizia (74′ Barba), Glik, Caldirola, Foulon (28′ Maggio); Schiattarella (74′ Tello), Ionita; R. Insigne, Sau (74′ Moncini), Dabo (46′ Improta); Lapadula (Manfredini, Lucatelli, Pastina, Basit, Viola, Hetemaj, Di Serio) Coach: F. Inzaghi
SPEZIA (4-3-3): Provedel; Ferrer, Terzi, Chabot (45′ Dell’Orco), Bastoni (75′ Marchizza); Estevez (81′ Agoume), Ricci (81′ Mora), Pobega (75′ Sena); Agudelo, Nzola, Gyasi (Krapikas, Vignali, Ismajli, Deiola, Piccoli) Coach: Italiano

REFEREE: Mr. Aureliano from Bologna
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Improta, Maggio, Caldirola, Bastoni, Agudelo, Estevez; Extra Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 0′