After the international break, league football is back and so is Serie A. The third week of the Italian top-flight produced memorable games and some surprises, as Juventus dropped the first points.
In the game that opened the Serie A schedule for this weekend, Sarri’s Juventus traveled to Florence to play against Fiorentina. In a legends battle, there was Cristiano Ronaldo, coming back from a terrific international week with this national team, and debutant Ribery.
The Frenchman moved to the ‘Viola’ this past Summer, after several seasons with Bayern Munich and he started for the first time in the purple-colored kit. Still, it was another Florence boy, Italian wonderkid Chiesa, who almost put the hosts in front, after Szczesny misplaced a goal kick.
And it was Fiorentina who was always closer to get to the goal, than Juventus. After the last matchday, that saw a thriller of a match, with Juventus scoring 4 over Napoli, the ‘bianconeri’ seem to have used all the bullets and there was no creativity in the attack.
The game ended 0-0, with Juventus losing the first two points, while Fiorentina, after losing against Genoa last weekend, grasping a crucial point in a difficult match. The ‘Viola’ has 4 points in 3 matches and seem like they will have a more relaxed campaign in Serie A table, than last season.
Juventus will have to get their accuracy and creativity back, especially because they will be playing Atletico Madrid in the Champions League group stages next Wednesday.
Conte’s Inter perfect start: 3 wins in 3 games
Two wins in two games for Antonio Conte’s Inter – over Lecce and Cagliari – and the perfect opportunity to jump into the lead, after Juventus slip. Inter hosted Udinese, who had only won 2 games in the last 11 Serie A matches (both against AC Milan at the San Siro, though).
With Udinese’s keeper Juan Musso in a great plan, making a brilliant stop over a shot of Stefano Sensi, it was another Udine’s player who was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Rodrigo de Paul got into a heated discussed with Antonio Candreva and the ref decided to look at the VAR and saw the Argentinian giving a slap in the head of the Inter’s winger. A red card was given and Inter’s job became slightly easier.
Ten minutes after, the deadlock would be broken. Diego Godin made a run into the opposition area and with a pinpoint cross, put the ball into Stefano Sensi’s who scored with a header. A curiosity is that Sensi was actually the shorter player on the pitch, with just 1,68m.
There was still time for Alexis Sanchez debut for Inter and the Chilean was close to having a perfect start if it wasn’t for a brilliant stop from Juan Musso.
The game ended 1-0 and Inter makes it 3 in 3, before the start of the Champions League (the Nerazzurri play Slavia Prague on Tuesday).
Napoli and AC Milan bag 3 points
Taking advantage of Juventus slip, Napoli and AC Milan also took their chances and got closer to the ‘bianconeri’ and the leading group.
After the hard defeat against Juventus in the Allianz Arena last weekend, with an own goal of Koulibaly taking away the merits of a nearly perfect comeback, Napoli hosted Sampdoria and took revenge.
The protagonist of the game was Dries Mertens, with the Belgian getting a brace to make the game 2-0. A comfortable win for Napoli, but their goalkeeper, Meret, also deserves praise for saving a 1 on 1 situation with striker Emiliano Rigoni.
Napoli plays against Liverpool this Tuesday for the Champions League group stages and the goalie will have to be at the peak of his form.
Meanwhile, AC Milan sneaked through once again with a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona, repeating the scoreline of last weekend. The ‘Rossoneri’ played against ten men from the 12th minute, as Stepinski was sent off for a dangerous play on Milan’s defender Musacchio.
Later on, Koray Gunter played handball in Verona’s area and the ref pointed to the spot. Piatek was called to decided and the Polish striker made no mistake. 1-0 for Milan.
It would be another one for Piatek later, but the ref would disallow it for an alleged foul in the goalkeeper. Besides the 6 points in 3 games, AC Milan will need to do more, especially since they will play Inter in the city derby next weekend, at the San Siro.
Bologna makes a comeback and keeps undefeated
This season of Serie A has just begun but has already enticed us with some amazing goal fests. This time it was Brescia against Bologna, a match you would probably sleep on, but that definitely an entertaining one this weekend.
Newly promoted side Brescia hasn’t yet given Balotelli his debut – with the Italian not even on the bench – but they showed some incredible attacking flair over Bologna.
Alfredo Donnarumma scored an early brace to put his team on the lead by 2-0. Bologna came back into the game, with Mattia Bani answering to a free kick with a perfect header, but Cistana would put the advantage back for Brescia, after a corner kick delivery. 3-1 at half time and what a game already.
Dessena would complicate the life for the hosts, getting a second yellow card for diving. Reduced to 10 men, Brescia showed their defensive weaknesses. Palacio made it 3-2 at the 56 minute and 4 minutes later Denswill would make the game even: 3-3.
It would take a few more minutes for Bologna to operate the comeback. Orsolini answered to a perfect cross from Palacio and Bologna were on top for the first time in the game: 3-4 and 7 points in 3 games.
A noteworthy run for Bologna, whose coach is battling with leukemia. Sinisa Mihaljovic was in the hospital and couldn’t attend the game and his players visited the coach and made him a serenade after the match. A gesture worth a thousand words.
Late drama for SPAL and Atalanta
If you love epic comebacks and late drama, Serie A seems to have it all. Take it from Lazio, who saw their first defeat arrive at the feet of SPAL, at the 90th minute of the game.
SPAL were early down in the game, with Caicedo being tripped in the area and the result was a penalty kick for Lazio. Immobile converted it and made it 1-0 for the guests.
In the second half, Petagna would make the game even again and Kurtic would seal the first win of the season for SPAL in extra time: 2-1.
Lazio plays next Thursday for Europa League in Romania, against Cluj.
Meanwhile, in Genoa, the surprise team of last season, Atalanta, had to wait until the 63 minutes to open the scoresheet. Luis Muriel from the penalty spot gave the visitors the lead, but in the 90th minute Genoa got also a penalty shout. Criscito was called to decide and he made it 1-1.
However, Atalanta wasn’t done and they would grab the 3 points with a goal in the last second by Colombian striker Duvan Zapata. A superb finish to seal the deal for Atalanta, who will have their Champions League debut next Wednesday, against Dinamo Zagreb.
Roma edges Sassuolo and gets the first win of the season
After two consecutive draws, one against Genoa (3×3) and one against city rivals Lazio (1×1), AS Roma were looking to get the first win when they hosted Sassuolo this weekend.
They opened the scoreboard early, with Bryan Cristante scoring through a header after a corner kick. Just 5 minutes later, a blunder from Sassuolo’s keeper, after an attempt from Edin Dzeko, would give a 2×0 lead to Roma.
Another one would come following, with Armenian winger Henry Mkhitaryan having a perfect debut. The player who arrived on loan from Arsenal in the last day of the transfer window answered well to a pass by Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Before halftime, Justin Kluivert would take the advantage even further, making it 4×0.
Sassuolo would answer in the second half, with a brace from Domenico Berardi, but wasn’t enough and Paulo Fonseca got his first win as the coach of the ‘Giallorossi’.
First points for Cagliari with a Ceppitelli brace
Cagliari arrived at Parma, after two defeats, against Brescia and Inter, but they got early confidence when Luca Ceppitelli made it 1×0 after the first quarter.
The same Ceppitelli would double it 10 minutes later, taking a comfortable lead at half time.
Parma still tried to come back, with Parilla making it 1-2, but Cagliari’s Summer signing, Giovanni Simeone, the son of Atletico Madrid’s coach Diego, would make it 1-3.
The team for Sardinia takes a deep breath of relief and leaves the bottom of the table, where is Sampdoria now (3 losses in 3 games).
Trying to escape the bottom of the table will be Lecce tonight, in the final match of this weekend’s matchday. A game of South against North, as Lecce, travels to Torino, to play against a ‘Toro’ side that has 2 wins in 2 matches.
If Torino wins, they will join Inter at the top of the table. Do not miss this Monday’s match.