The Serie A race is now more and more a 2 team race. Juventus and Inter won once again and they are separated by 1 point.
Meanwhile, Lazio and Roma won their respective games, climbing to the top 4 in exchange with Atalanta and Napoli. Also, Cagliari reinforced their position as the surprise team of the season.
All this in a matchday that, once again, brought to light, unfortunately, the discussion about racism in football.
Torino 0 x 1 Juventus
After their midweek tie to Lecce, Juventus visited their rivals, Torino, for a derby game between the two main crests of the city. A single goal through an unexpected hero, gave the ‘Bianconeri’ a tight edge to take all 3 points.
The game started with protests from the home side, as Juventus Matthijs de Ligt touched the ball with his arm inside the box. However, the referee considered it was a casual touch and that the Dutch defender couldn’t have avoided the contact.
De Ligt would then be again in evidence as the deflected shot on the defender, after Ronaldo’s blocked attempt, obligated Sirigu to make a tremendous save.
Sirigu once again shined in the goal as he stopped Ronaldo with another terrific save already in the second half. A third one followed as the goalkeeper made a prompt stop to Higuain’s missile shot.
The goal for Juventus would arrive in the 70 minute, after a corner kick. The ball went wide to Higuain, who squared back into the area, with Matthijs de Ligt this time being able to beat Sirigu. It was the first goal for the young Dutch defender, signed this Summer by Juventus.
Juventus cemented the lead of the Serie A table and they maintain their distance to Inter.
Bologna 1 x 2 Inter
Another hard-fought win for Inter as, once again, they had to come from behind and fight to keep the tight distance to Juventus. It was one more victory with late drama, as it is usual in the Serie A schedule games.
After a stale first half, that saw Skorupski be the main protagonist in Bologna’s goal, the hosts were the ones breaking the deadlock. At the 57th minute, Roberto Soriano shot a seemingly harmless kick from out the box, but Handanovic let it slip through his fingers.
Romelu Lukaku equalized shortly after, though, with the Belgian forward taking advantage of a loose ball in the area after Skorupski incomplete save.
In the dying minutes, late drama took over. Lautaro Martinez was apparently fouled in the area, with the VAR review pointing to the spot. Lukaku was called to convert and he signed his second of the game.
With 9 goals in 11 games, most of them decisive ones, maybe Manchester United selling him in the Summer was not their best idea…
Roma 2 x 1 Napoli
In the Olimpico, Roma hosted Napoli for one of the top games of the weekend. A victory for either of the two teams would mean they would move into the 3rd place.
In the 19th minute, Roma opened the scoreline, with Nicolo Zaniolo beating Meret with a well-placed shot. It was the third goal in 3 consecutive matches for the 20-year-old Italian attacking midfielder.
Before the whistle of the half time, the ‘Giallorossi’ could have doubled their lead. Callejon handball in the box was punished with a penalty, but Kolarov allowed Meret to save his attempt.
Also before the break, Napoli had two chances to equalize. First, Smalling stopped it with an acrobatic clearance on the line. Then, Milik with a header that hit the crossbar.
However, it would be Roma who scored again, when Mario Rui clumsily had yet another handball in the area. This time it was Veretout who was called to action and the former Fiorentina player did not waste the chance.
Sadly, the game had to be stopped at the 60 minute due to the racist chants against Neapolitans from the Roma Ultra fans. Edin Dzeko had to go to the supporters in the ‘Curva Nord’ and ask them to stop.
After the game was resumed, Napoli got a goal back, with Milik scoring his 5th goal in 6 games. The Polish striker has been in incredible form since returning from injury.
The 2-1 win was enough for Roma though and Paulo Fonseca sees his men climbing finally into the Champions League positions. They are now 3rd in the table.
Milan 1 x 2 Lazio
An interesting fixture between two teams that have extremely loyal supporters, Milan hosted Lazio in the San Siro. In the last 3 matches against AC Milan away, Lazio was not able to win, but a victory on the bounce would take them to the 4th place.
Immobile was close to score the opener early in the game, but the ball hit the woodwork. The top scorer of Serie A would take some more minutes, but he would finally find the back of the net, scoring his 13th goal of the season in 11 goals. It was also Ciro Immobile’s 100th goal for Lazio.
Milan was not dangerous throughout the game, but yet they leveled the game instants later. Piatek effort deflected on Lazio’s defender Bastos: 1-1.
Donnarumma’s double save kept Milan in the game, but the ‘Rossoneri’ would be hit in the late minutes of the game. Poor defending from Milan and Joaquin Correa 1 on 1 with the keeper, had no problems in scoring the winner for Lazio.
Lazio moves to 4th place, one point below their city rivals AS Roma. Meanwhile, Milan’s slight joy in their midweek victory against SPAL is already gone and Stefano Pioli is not having the best start on his managerial reign.
Atalanta 0 x 2 Cagliari
Atalanta wasted a chance to cement a top 3 position as they were surprised by Cagliari at home. The team from Sardinia keeps an impressive record this season and is now in the 6th place of Serie A.
To be fair, Atalanta was unlucky throughout the game, first conceding through a deflection on Pasalic during a free-kick. Later, just after hitting the crossbar with a shot from Papu Gomez, Atalanta got reduced to 10 men, with Ilicic being sent off.
The Slovenian attacking midfielder was caught kicking the leg of Cagliari defender Lykogiannis and he got an immediate sent off.
It got worse in the second half, as Christian Oliva started and finished the counterattack that led to Cagliari’s 2nd goal. It was the first goal for the young Uruguayan midfielder, who arrived in Cagliari in January.
Atalanta ends a streak of 8 games without losing, while Cagliari completes their 9th game without being defeated. Their last loss was on the 1st of September against Inter.
Verona 2 x 1 Brescia
It was a beautiful game of football between Hellas Verona and Brescia, that got ruined by the racist chants from the home fans. The result smiled to Verona, who climbed to 9th, with Brescia dropping to the danger zone.
Mario Balotelli got the first glance of a goal as his free-kick was denied by the post. But it was Verona who broke the deadlock, with Eddie Salcedo, scoring his first goal for Hellas after a corner. The young forward is just 18 years old.
The game was interrupted minutes later though, when Balotelli kicked the ball into the stands and abandoned the pitch, after being racially abused by Verona fans.
When the game resumed, Verona hit their second goal, through Pessina, who had just come in as a substitute.
Out of nowhere, though, Mario Balotelli got a little something to cheer for, when he scored a stunner. It was the second goal of the season for Mario, who arrived in Brescia this Summer.
The result, in the end, still favored Verona, but the most important lesson would be given after the match, as Balotelli urged for the racist fans to ‘wake up’ from their ignorance. Well said!
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the game, the coach of Brescia Eugenio Corini resigned. He had arrived in the season 2018/19 when he managed to promote the team to Serie A.
SPAL 0 x 1 Sampdoria
Claudio Ranieri finally got his first win as Sampdoria coach as the bottom side of Serie A, clinched an extra-time winner to get all the 3 points. The last time Sampdoria won a game was on the 22 of September when they beat Torino at home.
In a game that was not much eventful, SPAL was actually the team that looked more dangerous throughout, but Audero kept a clean sheet and Sampdoria held to the null until the end.
When it seemed like a 0x0 was inevitable, the substitute Caprari jumped highed than SPAL’s defense to make the visiting fans celebrate. Sampdoria left the bottom of the table and is now in 18th, but tied in points with Genoa.
SPAL takes their place at the bottom of Serie A table.
Genoa 1 x 3 Udinese
After suffering 11 goals in just 2 games, Udinese got back to winning routes, in their visit to fellow struggling side Genoa. Meanwhile, the third match in control of Genoa for Thiago Motta ended in another defeat.
However, it looked like Motta’s tactics had been learned as Genoa scored a beautifully designed goal in the opening minutes. A quick combination of passes with a finish by the captain Goran Pandev.
From captain to captain, Udinese leveled 10 minutes later through De Paul’s long-range shot.
In the last minutes of the match, Udinese scored twice to secure the 3 points. First through Ken Sema, with the Swedish midfielder scoring his first goal with the club, and in the last seconds, Kevin Lasagna completed the scoreline.
Genoa is dangerously close to the relegation places, Udinese climbs to 12th.
Fiorentina 1 x 1 Parma
Both Fiorentina and Parma are having successful season starts, being in the top half of the table. So, a match between both would be an opportunity for one of them to jump closer to the top 6. Yet, eventually, they denied each other that chance.
Parma took the lead in the first half, with the blistering pace of Gervinho breaking Fiorentina’s defense. A skillful finish saw the Ivorian score his 3rd goal in Serie A.
The ‘Viola’ supporters had to wait until the second half to see their team equalize. Castrovilli scored for the second match in a row, answering with a header to a cross from Dalbert.
Everything on level terms: Fiorentina is 8th and Parma is 10th.
Lecce 2 x 2 Sassuolo
For the fourth consecutive match, Lecce drew their game. This time, they received Sassuolo and they were close to winning the match, but a late strike split the points amongst the two sides.
Lapadula put Lecce in front with 18 minutes played, but Jeremy Toljan, who is on loan from Borussia Dortmund, scored his first goal in Serie A to put Sassuolo leveled.
Nonetheless, Filippo Falco, who had come on in the early minutes as a substitute to replace injured Babacar, scored a glorious free-kick. 2-1 for Lecce during the interval.
With 5 minutes remaining, the captain of Sassuolo Domenico Berardi equaled the match and divided the points. It was the 7th goal in 9 Serie A games for Berardi.
The Serie A schedule returns next weekend, as for now, the Italian teams will head to the respective European fixtures: Champions League and Europa League.