Juventus go top, after Inter home slip versus Atalanta

Ronaldo and Pjanic against Roma
Ronaldo celebrates his 4th goal of 2020, from the penalty spot. Credits: Reuters

A weekend of heavy emotions in Serie A, as the top two teams had tough encounters with Atalanta and Roma. Juventus edged this one, as they beat Roma at the Olimpico, while Inter lost their grip against Atalanta.

Check out how is the current Serie A table:

Inter 1 x 1 Atalanta

Inter and Juventus came into the weekend with an identical record and both had tough fixtures; for Inter, they welcomed fourth-placed Atalanta to the San Siro.

The home side got off to a flying start with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez linking up before the latter finished through Pierluigi Gollini in the Atalanta goal.

Both sides had chances to add to the score but it was Atalanta who would strike next and the leveler didn’t come until 75. Josip Ilicic bided his time patiently on the left and when his cross deflected into the air Inter failed to react and Robin Gosens poked home for 1-1.

Late in the match the away side had a golden chance to take all three points when Ruslan Malinovskiy went tumbling in the area following a nudge in the back from Alessandro Bastoni but Luis Fruto saw Samir Handanovic dive low to his right to keep his spot kick out.

Roma 1 x 2 Juventus

Given Inter’s draw, Juventus went into their match on Sunday knowing three points would send them top. That is somewhat easier said than done when a trip to Roma lays in wait but Juve didn’t waste any time as they took their hosts apart in the opening exchanges.

First, on 3, Miralem Pjanic delivered a deep free-kick and Merih Demiral walked in at the back post to cushion a volley in for 0-1 and then on 10. Cristiano Ronaldo doubled the lead with a penalty after Roma played themselves into trouble at the back and then Jordan Veretout pulled down Paolo Dybala.

Roma didn’t give up though and continued to fight their way back into the game and on 68 they were awarded a spot-kick when Alex Sandro handled in a goalmouth melee. Diego Perotti converted but Juventus held on to go top.

Besides the result, bad news for each team medical department: Nicolo Zaniolo and Merih Demiral both suffered long term injuries and will likely fail the rest of the season (and maybe Euro 2020).

Sampdoria 5 x 1 Brescia

Brescia traveled to Sampdoria in the knowledge that a win would take them above their opponent and out of the bottom three. On 12, it looked like that could happen as Ernesto Torregrossa headed back across goal from a corner allowing Jhon Chancellor to apply the finishing touch for 0-1.

The hosts were now asking all the questions and on 34 made it 1-1; Jakub Jankto crossed from the left, the defensive header was weak and Karol Linetty had time to take a touch and pick his spot from 16 yards.

On the brink of half time, the two wingers swapped roles; Linetty showed great endeavor down the right and his cross was volleyed in by Jankto for 2-1. The score remained that way until 69 when Massimiliano Mangraviti’s hand prevented an exchange of Sampdoria passes in the box and Quagliarella scored from the spot.

Eight minutes later, the home side made it 4-1. This time Gianluca Caprari, who had only been on the field for a minute, was the scorer. Caprari’s 30-yard drive was kept out by Jesse Joronen but he had continued his run and when Jankto stood up across it was Caprari who was there to nod in.

The icing on the cake came in stoppage time as Quagliarella scored his second and Sampdoria’s fifth. A long ball was played out from the back and Quagliarella raced clear before lifting the bouncing ball over Joronen and in.

After being dead last in the first part of the season, the arrival of Claudio Ranieri saw the team getting out of the relegation zone. Incredible work by the former Leicester and Roma manager.

Cagliari 0 x 2 AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first start since his Milan return as AC traveled to take on Cagliari and the Swede was involved in everything. His team dominated the opening 45 minutes – albeit without scoring?

Immediately after the restart though Rafael Leao gave Milan a deserved lead with an effort that deflected up and over Robin Olsen. On 64, Ibrahimovic bagged a goal for himself with a left-footed finish to the bottom corner after a cut back from Theo Hernandez.

That’s how it stayed and, of course, the post-match was all about Zlatan. Stefano Pioli might finally have a reason to smile.

Udinese 3 x 0 Sassuolo

Udinese came into their home tie with Sassuolo having only lost one of their last five and they quickly set about seeing off the visitors. The goal eventually came on 14 when Stefano Okaka headed in from a corner.

But, in truth, Okaka could already have had two goals to his name with Sassuolo struggling to deal with the home teams set-piece prowess.

The away side twice forced Juan Musso into action but, on 68, a powerful low drive from Ken Sema found the bottom corner of Sassuolo’s net to make it 2-0 and effectively end the contest.

With time almost up, Udinese made it 3-0. Sassuolo piled forward for a corner and a rampant counter ended with Rodrigo De Paul beating Andrea Consigli.

Hellas Verona 2 x 1 Genoa

Verona and Genoa locked horns on Saturday but kick-off was delayed due to poorly drawn 18-yard lines. When underway Verona was doing all of the probing but on 41 found themselves behind with Antonio Barreca’s low cross being smashed home by Antonio Sanabria.

A victory would have been enough for Genoa to edge out of the relegation places but 10 minutes into the second 45 parity was restored. Cristian Romero inexplicably felled Mattia Zaccagni and Valerio Verre made no mistake with the resultant penalty as he powered a strike into the roof of the net.

After leveling, Verona went for the win and on 65 found what would eventually be the clincher as Zaccagni turned in from close range after Mattia Perin failed to hold Amir Rrahmani’s shot at the end of a flowing Verona attack.

Parma 2 x 0 Lecce

The final game of the Serie A schedule for this week saw Parma entertain a Lecce side sitting just above the relegation places on Monday evening.

Despite things being goalless as the hour mark approached it looked inevitable that Parma would find a way through. With the Lecce backline being opened up at will, it was slack marking that gave Parma the advantage on 57.

Hernani delivered a whipped corner and Simone Iacoponi, who was in yards of space, connected perfectly to thump a header into the top corner.

Did Lecce learn their lesson? Not exactly. On 72, Parma grabbed a second; Riccardo Gagliolo delivered a teasing cross and Hernani was in acres of space and although his header struck the underside of the bar it was Andreas Cornelius who reacted quickest to turn the loose ball in.

Lazio 1 x 0 Napoli

Saturday saw Lazio play Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico looking to continue their impressive campaign. Napoli was the better side and if it wasn’t for  Thomas Strakosha in the Lazio sticks the home side would have been behind.

Fortunately for the hosts, David Ospina wasn’t 100% on his game; on 82 he dallied in possession and  Ciro Immobile made him pay the ultimate price. The Italian striker became the first player to get to the 20 goal mark among the top 5 leagues.

Gennaro Gattuso still seeks his first victory as Napoli’s coach, as he replaced Carlo Ancelotti, now at Everton, in mid-December.

Torino 1 x 0 Bologna

Torino came into their match against Bologna in good spirit after an impressive 2-0 win over Roma last time out in league action. They got their noses in front of 11 through Alex Berenguer, who slotted in after some good play by Andrea Belotti.

Simone Verdi went close to making it 2-0 but his 20-yard strike clipped the outside of the post whilst, at the other end Bologna should have taken something from the match. Wasteful finishing – particularly from Rodrigo Palacio – ensured Torino, who only registered one shot on target, emerged victoriously.

Fiorentina 1 x 0 SPAL

Fiorentina was on a six-game winless run – in the league – ahead of the weekend but a home game against bottom side SPAL is perhaps the most likely to end a poor streak.

It wasn’t tough to see why both sides are struggling as quality in the final third was severely lacking but Fiorentina stole the points on 82 as German Pezzella nodded in from a corner.

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