Results from round 21:
Serie A table:
Theo Hernandez and Milan keep putting the pressure
An early goal in both halves helped Milan clear Venezia with relative ease and remain in Inter’s radar. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the first scorer, after an irresistible run by the usual Rafael Leao.
Then, it was down to Theo Hernandez to finish the job. The Spanish full-back scored twice for his third brace since joining Milan three years ago. He also gained the penalty that was later converted after Michael Svoboda cleared his shot off the line with the hand.
It’s Milan’s third successive win and it’s only the second time they do this feat in the league, after reaching seven earlier in the season.
Sassuolo’s wonderkids keep shining
Domenico Berardi was a former wonderkid, but now is an established leader for Sassuolo. After his opener and Liam Henderson’s equaliser for Empoli, two goals each by the millennials Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori gave the Neroverdi a much-needed win.
Both Scamacca and Raspadori are linked with big moves and are considered as precious talents. The former scored eight league goals already, while his teammate now moves up to six.
Atalanta show no mercy against Udinese
Udinese are one of those teams on a current covid crisis and they had the difficult task of facing Atalanta at home.
With 12 players out, the Friulani couldn’t resist a side which is unbeaten away and that moved in front quickly led by Luis Muriel’s wonders. The Columbian played for Udinese for three seasons, but now moves up to 11 goals scored against his old team.
Merit needs to be given to Udinese for trying until the end, pulling a few goals back in the second-half, but two very late goals gave Atalanta a tennis-like score.
Napoli finally end their home losing streak
Andrea Petagna’s volley is enough to finally see Napoli return to winning at home after three consecutive defeats. With so many absences through injury and the African Cup of Nations, Petagna’s contribution can be important for Napoli.
The Partenopei conserve a five point margin on Juventus with their win against Sampdoria, in which they would have deserved a higher score.
It’s Napoli’s 11th clean sheet, two more than league leaders Inter and four more than any other team.
Spezia’s win means Genoa may have lost their last chance
There is obviously a very long way to go, but Spezia’s win over their rivals Genoa, in what was a 17th v 19th clash, may well mean that Genoa are likely condemned to relegation.
The Grifoni are five points behind Venezia, who have a game in hand, and seven behind Spezia. Considering they are winless in four months, a serious change in direction needs to happen for Andriy Shevchenko’s team.
Simone Bastoni gave his team the win in the Ligurian derby, with coach Thiago Motta always on the edge and hoping for more continuity.
Juventus’s crazy comeback sends away the scares
At some point in the match, when Lorenzo Pellgrini’s beauty moved Roma up 3-1, it looked like history could repeat itself and Juventus were condemned to another disappointment.
However, Alvaro Morata set off a spark when he came on, contributing to Manuel Locatelli’s goal and witnessing in seven minutes two more goals that overturned the result with Dejan Kulusevski and Mattia De Sciglio. The full-back’s only second Serie A goal in his long career was a worthy winner.
It wasn’t easy, though. In fact, shortly after moving up, Juventus saw Matthijs De Ligt sent off and a penalty conceded. Just like it happened earlier in the season, Wojciech Szczesny saved it against his former club and Juventus completed a crazy come-back.
Roma’s shocking defensive display, that is a recurring problem of their last years, cost them the win in their best moment. Jose Mourinho will feel gutted he lost such a chance against his arch-rivals.
Salernitana surprise Verona
Verona will see Salernitana as their dark horses, with the Granata now having collected two of their five results against Igor Tudor’s side.
Salernitana get their first win in over two months thanks to a couple of set pieces. Milan Djuric scored a penalty and Grigoris Kastanos netted a wonderful free-kick to finally give their supporters some joy.
They endured a tough time, risking the exclusion from the league which was avoided as a matter of minutes in the final hours of 2021.Embed from Getty Images
Inter resist the pressure and make it eight in a row
Already one game behind, Inter had to face Lazio with the uncomfortable feeling of dropping down to second, with Milan surpassing them at the top of the table with a win against Venezia. In a weekend in which all their rivals won and after three weeks of not playing, Inter did well to gain all three points.
There was every reason to believe it was going to be a bad day, especially when Lautaro Martinez was denied first by a matter of inches, with a goal disallowed, and then by Thomas Strakosha’s reflexes.
Alessandro Bastoni netted a beauty to put Inter momentarily in front, but it was short-lasted as Inter’s defence combined for a series of errors which gifted Ciro Immobile an open goal. Against the odds, but with the run of play in their favour, Milan Skriniar scored a winner for some precious three points.
Covid had the opposite effect on Torino
Perhaps one of the most shocking results of the matchday was the one which saw Torino put four goals past Fiorentina. Torino, who have the second best home record, had the fourth worst attack prior to the game, while Fiorentina were in full contention for the top seven.
The first-half saw the home side go up by three goals, despite all the trouble they went through in the previous week with the covid crisis. Wilfred Singo and Josip Brekalo, twice, put a goal in the Fiorentina net.
Antonio Sanabria put the icing on the cake, as Torino make a huge jump forward in the table from 13th to 9th and still with a game in hand to some teams.
Walter Mazzarri will be the happiest man
In stoppage time, Gaston Pereiro gives Cagliari their second consecutive win, only the third of the season. Once again, the Sardinians come-back in the game and seem to pick up some form.
Bologna, on their first game of the year, wasted many chances and couldn’t capitalise on Riccardo Orsolini’s beautiful free-kick.
There is, finally, some joy for Walter Mazzarri, as Cagliari are living a troublesome season. The coach finally admits he is witnessing his ideas being implemented on the pitch.Embed from Getty Images
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