Juventus 4-1 Palermo

Link to report: https://cameronbellamyblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/diabolical-dybala-dampens-sicilian-spirits/

Goalscorers: C. Marchisio (13), P. Dybala (40, 89), G. Higuain (63) / Ivaylo Chochev (90+3)

Atalanta 1-0 Crotone

The hosts were always in control at Stadio Atleti, but ultimately struggled to make their dominance count as Davide Nicola’s men made it as awkward as possible to breach the Crotone back-line. Neither side created any real clear-cut chances in what was a slow and diminishing first-half advert of Italian football. It took 33 minutes alone for the game’s opening shot on goal.

There was nothing particularly impressive in the Atalanta performance in terms of game-changing quality, as they failed to really take the game their languishing counterparts.

The second-half saw more of the same, although this time, La Dea grabbed an early advantage through Andrea Conti. The 22-year-old tapping home from close range after Petagna so coolly rolled the ball across the six-yard box.

The eventual outcome may have been a lot more comfortable, had it not been for the woodwork. The ultimate opportunist Alejandro Gomez smashing the white beam in the closing stages, failing to kill-off the game sooner.

Crotone will rue their lack of chances and emphasis to counter, picking up just one point in their last six, unable to add to their mere sum total of just two away points all season.

Goalscorers: A. Conti (48)

 

Empoli 1-2 Lazio

Lazio proved patient persistence does pay-off as they left Tuscany with all three points. But like it’s predecessor, the first-half was more of a nerve-settler, both sides failing to produce any real highlights.

It was the visitors who eventually made the first real move in the match, bringing Ivorian Balde Keita into the fray, replacing an underwhelming Milinkovic-Savic as Lazio began to stamp some authority on the game.

But Rade Krunic completely disrupted any Lazio flow when he curled in an absolute screamer, Empoli’s sole shot on target in the match, all out of 30 yards out, expertly picking out the inside left corner. That was his first goal for more than 18 months, an astute way to put the drought to bed.

It didn’t last long though, any home side hopes of a shock win were imminently eradicated. The Azzuri had been warned minutes before about their lack of commitment to win the second balls and on this occasion they were punished, just seconds from the re-start, Ciro Immobile holding off his man to stab the ball past Lukasz Skorupski.

Empoli’s lack of forward pace and prowess, made evidently clear by the saddening display of club talisman Massimo Maccarone. The 37-year-old continuing to look well out of his depth as a starter.

It was all Lazio from then on, Keita kept up his impressive recent form since returning from AFCON, grabbing a controversial late winner. With just 10 minutes left on the clock, the substitute smashed at a loose ball inside the penalty area, deflecting off Andrea Costa and into the roof of the net. Replays show the ball hit the centre-back’s left arm, causing Empoli players to swarm the referee in unsuccessful protest.

Lazio pick up their first Serie A away win in 2017, while Empoli, despite not gaining any ground on the relegation zone, retain an 8-point cushion after Palermo suffered defeat on Friday night.

Goalscorers: R. Krunic (67) / C. Immobile (68), B. Keita (80)

 

Bologna 0-1 Inter Milan

A resurgent Inter travelled to a sell-out Stadio Renato Dall’Ara to face an injury plagued and out-of-form Bologna. Roberto Donadoni drastically having to reshuffle his starting eleven.

It was an end-to-end first 45 in which both sides got down the flanks although made hard work of the final pass.

The Nerazzurri almost unlocked the score when some clever play down the left was merited by a great far-post run by a reinvigorated Rodrigo Palacio, but with the goal gaping, the Argentine somehow managed to mess his footing and blaze over from just yards out.

That, the only real chance in what was a very organised and steely meeting, both teams restricted themselves to a passage of long-range shots that were simply too weak to bamboozle the men between the sticks.

A mountain of early second-half pressure from Inter started to turn the game in their favour, and they grew in confidence but still lacked real composure in front of goal.

Their endeavour finally rewarded, when the seemingly cut-adrift Gabriel Barbosa came on and got on the end of a terrific D’Ambrosio cut-back with just 9 minutes remaining. A carbon copy of the Palacio chance from the first-half, the Brazilian could’ve doubled his tally, having just opened his account for them, however, Adam Massina was there to clear his goal-ward rebound off the line.

That’s now 3 home defeats in a row for the Rossoblu, and a fourth successive Serie A loss as they stay sandwiched in the middle of the table.

Their disappointment confined, when a late stooping shot from an unmarked Vasilis Torosidis was quickly closed down by an onrushing Samir Handanovic to preserve a vital 3 points for the Nerazzurri faithful.

Goalscorers: G. Barbosa (81)

 

Pescara 5-0 Genoa

Zdenek Zeman got off to a flying start in his second stint as manager of Pescara, thrashing Genoa at Stadio Adriatico and leading them to their first league win of the season on home soil.

It took them just 6 minutes to breach the deadlock, Lucas Orban conceding an own goal after Alberto Cerri pounced on a long ball and rounded goalkeeper Eugenio Lamanna before his wayward shot went in off an unfortunate Orban.

Gianluca Caprari doubled that lead 14 minutes later, Cristiano Biraghi working a brilliant set-piece to find the his teammate, who comfortably slotted in to the far corner.

Ahmad Benali extended the cushion before half-time,  Ledian Memushaj put him clean through and he finished exquisitely past Lamanna.

Pescara fan spent much of the second-half in shock at what was unfolding, only having to 36 minutes for a fourth. Long-serving Caprari bagging his second of the game, slaloming past the defence after some terrific one-touch football from the Delfini.

Cerri then rounded things off in the 87th minute, moving into the middle, winning the battle with Burdisso, before tucking away any Genoan hopes, in match which saw the home side score 5 goals in a Serie A match for the first time in their history.

Still 10 points adrift, Pescara will know they have to churn out more of these performances if they want any chance of staying up, and can take hope from the fact their survival adversaries all lost. In similar contrast. Genoa now possess the Serie A’s worst form record in 2017.

Goalscorers: L. Orban (OG) (6), G. Caprari (19, 81), A. Benali (31), A. Cerri (89)

 

Sampdoria 1-1 Cagliari

It was honours apiece at the Luigi Ferraris as two early first-half goals from either side was the pick of the action in what was an incredibly even contest.

Former QPR man Mauricio Isla rifling in Artur Ionita’s wicked cross towards the far-post, to give Massimo Rastelli’s side an improbable lead away from home.

Their lead was soon cancelled however, Fabio Quagliarella lurking deep inside the penalty area and was alert to the shaky palmed-clearance of loanee goalkeeper Gabriel from Lucas Torreira’s sharp shot, to acrobatically draw things level halfway through the first-half.

Torreira himself could’ve settled it late on with a chance that looked destined to nestle in the corner, but was instead unlucky to see his shot cannon off the post with just minutes remaining.

An uninspiring point gained by both, still not enough to push them up the tight and turbulent Serie A standings.

Goalscorers: Qualiarella (22) / M. Isla (6)

Udinese 1-2 Sassuolo

He may have ended up on the losing team, but Seke Fofana’s strike will go down in Udinese folklore. The Frenchman inadvertently flicking up a strong pass from teammate Emmanuel Badu, lifting it up and over Francesco Acerbi, before picking out the bottom left corner in style.

Sassuolo substitute Gregoire Defrel ultimately proved to be the difference between the teams in the end, decisively scoring both of the the Neroverdi’s goals with his only two shots on target.

First, he got on the end of  Lorenzo Pellegrini’s beautifully whipped cross, just four minutes after coming on. Although there were extreme doubts about whether or not he was onside when the ball came in.

Dominco Berardi was then clattered as he laid it off for the dynamic Defrel, this time the 25-year-old curled the ball from at least 30 yards out, into the same corner that Fofana had picked out earlier in the match, settling the game and cooling any doubts about the desire of this underachieving Sassuolo outfit.

Goalscorers: S. Fofana (7) / G. Defrel (70, 79)

Chievo 1-3 Napoli

Dries Mertens missed out, as Maurizio Sarri rang the changes for Napoli’s trip to Verona. Nikola Maksimovic and Leonardo Pavoletti were both handed unexpected starts.

Usually adept away from home and on the counter, Napoli still took a good half hour to really get going at the Bentegodi, Lorenzo Insigne fresh off that wonder strike at the Bernebau in mid-week got the Ciucciarelli going.

Some mazy build-up play eventually found the Italian on the far left, prompting him to cut inside past a crowd of bodies and an unleash an unstoppable strike into the top corner.

Again, more great teamwork in the opposition half, came to defender Massimo Gobbi, his clearance parried into the path of Marek Hamsik who steered into an open net for a second and his 10th goal of the campaign.

Substitute Piotr Zielinski rounded things off in the second-half, midfielder Allan putting it on a plate for the Pole, who powered it past Stefano Sorrentino from the edge of the box.

Chievo’s late replacement, Riccardo Meggiorini came on and latched onto a looping long-ball over the top of Napoli’s high-line. Koulibaly at fault for this one, letting the 31-yea-old get the better of him and pull one back for the Gialloblu.

Napoli keep up with As Roma in second although neither look likely, barring a miracle, to topple Max Allegri’s footballing machine, Juventus. Worryingly, Chievo have won just once in their last 6 home games.

Goalscorers: R. Meggiorini (72) / L. Insigne (31), M. Hamsik (38), P. Zielinski (58)

Roma 4-1 Torino

Torino could find no answers at Stadio Olimpico, as they were swiftly swept aside by a bellowing AS Roma.

The Granata could only hold out for ten minutes before the impeccable Edin Dzeko held off a couple of Torino players to then drive a steep shot into the far corner, giving his former teammate Joe Hart no chance.

The Bosnian then won an aerial challenge deep in the opposition area which fell kindly for Mohamed Salah, instinctively scoring on the half volley, a rasping strike of the ball.

Leandro Paredes’ ferocious thunderbolt provided match closure as he met the knockdown from Radja Naingoolan’s corner, hitting the ball first time, lighting up the city of Rome, never mind just the Olimpico.

The away side did pull one back however, Maxi Lopez beating the offside trap, finishing in typical style to give the travelling fans something to cheer.

There was even time for a late cameo from Francesco Totti, his 612th Serie A appearance saw The Re di Roma took a quick classy touch and caress to roll it into the path of Naingoolan, who proceeded to almost split the net with his trademark technique.

Roma maintain their two-point cushion over nearest rivals Napoli although still sit seven behind The immovable Old Lady.

Goalscorers: E. Dzeko (10), M. Salah (17), L. Paredes (65), R. Naingoolan (90+1) / M. Lopez (84)

AC Milan – Fiorentina

Both teams came into this with European aspirations accompanied by suspensions aplenty, meaning the likes of Alessio Romanogli and Domenico Bernadeschi missed out in what was fiery encounter at San Siro, but more notably a meeting of Vincenzo Montella and his old club whom he played for and managed.

Fiorentina, off the back of a great first leg win in the Europa League, started the better, tormenting the Rossoneri with their sheer pace and frightening power through the middle but limited themselves to nervy distance shooting.

They failed to make that pressure count however, Juraj Kucka’s glancing header from Jose Sosa’s crisp free-kick put Milan in front on 16 minutes.

They weren’t in front for long however, Federico Chiesa’s inch-perfect pass, over the top of a statuesque Milan defence, found Nikola Kalinic, in the right place at the right time to poke past Donnarumma and draw the team level on the 20-minute mark

Everton loanee Gerard Deloufeu restored the Milan lead just 11 minutes later, The Rossoneri winning the ball off Borja Valero high-up the pitch and with great emphasis, Mario Pasalic incisively picked out the tricky Spaniard. He calmly drove forward, unchallenged, before a thumping side foot finish caught out the usually alert Ciprian Tatarusanu.

They could’ve and probably should’ve extended that lead before half-time, the Croatian Pasalic this time, intricately finding his way into the box , only to crack a whipping shot off the post, leaving the goal-frame as well as the Fiorentina back-line shaking.

Paulo Sousa would’ve bemoaned the lack of creativity during a drab second-half in which his side dominated the possession but could not capitalise.

Milan move four points clear of their Florence rivals, sitting in 7th place, four points off the Top 5.

Goalscorers: J. Kucka (16), Deulofeu (31) / N. Kalinic (20)

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