Saturday February 8th
In Saturday’s trio of games in Serie A, Fiorentina were quick off the mark in their game with Atalanta at the Stadio Artemio Franchi when after 16 minutes, Josip Ilicic curled a magnificent left-foot free kick past the dive of Consigli and into the net to put the Viola in front.
On loan Manchester United midfielder Anderson tested Consigli as Fiorentina looked to add a second. Atalanta had claims for a penalty waved away on the half hour mark as they sought to gain a foothold in the game but in the second period Fiorentina once again established their dominance.
Borja Valeron went close before Atalanta’s Cigarini picked up a second yellow card on 81 minutes to leave the visitors down to ten men. Five minutes later, the lively Wolski, on as a second half sub, made it 2-0 with a well struck shot.
Udinese got a much needed win thanks to an impressive 3-0 home victory over Chievo. The visitors almost scored in the first half when Thereau’s shot hit the post, but in the second period an inspired strike from Di Natale, plus further goals from Bruno Fernandes and Agyemang-Badu handed the home side a vital three points in their quest to avoid the drop.
The big game on Saturday however came in Naples, where the home side welcomed Milan, complete with new manager Clarence Seedorf to the Sao Paolo.
Things started well for the visitors when after 7 minutes, on-loan QPR star Adel Taarabt was allowed too much time and space to advance towards the Napoli goal, placing his shot past the despairing dive of the on-loan Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.
That lead only lasted four minutes however as Napoli roared back, Gokhan Inler’s 25 yard shot cruelly deflecting off Nigel De Jong, taking the ball up and over the stranded Christian Abbiati and into the net.
Napoli continued to press with Hamsik and Maggio both going close in a first half the hosts had dominated.
The second started in a similar vein and Napoli struck decisively when Gonzalo Higuain netted his first of the evening. A lovely flicked header from the impressive Inler’s cross putting the home side 2-1 up.
Milan then pushed hard for the equaliser, Essien, Taarabt, Balotelli and sub Pazzini all went close for the visitors before Higuain wrapped up the win on 82 minutes. Hamsik playing Callejon into space and the Napoli substitute slotted the ball across for Higuain to tap home the third.
The win confirmed a much needed 3-points for the home side and saw them close the gap on second placed Roma to three points.
Sunday February 9th
In the early kick off in Turin, Bologna came from a goal down after just five minutes to hosts Torino (Ciro Immobile) to strike back and win 2-1. Jonathan Cristaldo bagging a brace of goals on 11 and 24 minutes to hand the visitors a surprising 2-1 win to secure them three vital points in their quest to avoid relegation.
The real drama on Sunday however came in Verona where the home side welcomed runaway league leaders Juventus in what looked a tough game for the Old Lady.
Carlos Tevez however had other ideas as after just four minutes when Rafael’s attempted block from Asamoah’s shot fell to Tevez who rattled the ball home from the middle of the penalty box.
The Argentinean ace was on hand to add a second on 21 minutes. The talented Paul Pogba opening up the Verona defence with a clever pass into Tevez who slid the ball home past Rafael to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
He could have made it 3-0 on the half hour mark after firing aimlessly wide when played through by Llorente’s intelligent pass.
In the second period however Verona started to battle back and on 52 minutes, Luca Toni’s deft header from Romulo’s free kick pulled the deficit back to just one goal.
Juventus brought on the on-loan Southampton striker Osvaldo and he twice nearly scored their third, hitting the post and having a goal disallowed for offside.
That left the stage for late drama when deep in injury time, Verona substitute Gomez headed home an injury time leveller to deny Juventus all three points.
In Sunday’s other big game, the Rome derby, Lazio and Roma shared the spoils, if not a goal in what was an end-to-end game with the visitors having the better of things, only to be denied by some excellent goalkeeping from Lazio keeper Etrit Berisha.
Roma had the ball in the net on 25 minutes but Gervinho’s strike was ruled out for offside and the visitors spurned a host of chances in both halves as they sought to close the gap on Juventus.
The result left Roma nine points adrift of Juventus in Serie A, though they do have a game in hand over the league leaders.
In other games, a Luca Antonelli strike after Livorno keeper Francesco Bardi failed to hold Alberto Gilardino’s shot handed Genoa a 1-0 win away at Livorno, a result which leaves the home side deep in the relegation mire at the foot of the table.
Parma and Catania played out a goalless draw at the Ennio Tardini. The visitors had the better of things, having 19 shots at goal in the game, but failed to breach Antonio Mirante’s goal. The result left Catania at the foot of the table on 16 points.
Cagliari were unable to end their away jinx at Sampdoria as they went down to a Daniele Gastaldello strike after 11 minutes at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. The visitors dominated possession and had more shots on goal, but Sampdoria’s defence proved too strong as Cagliari slumped to their fourth defeat in five league games.
Finally, Inter Milan moved up to fifth in Serie A on the back of a narrow 1-0 win against Sassuolo at the San Siro, their first victory of 2014.
Argentinean defender Walter Samuel grabbed the goal in the 48th minute of a somewhat dour contest which the home side dominated. Sassuolo’s talented young striker Berardi however created the best chance for the visitors when his free kick was headed wide by Ariaudo.
The defeat leaves Sassuolo 19th in Serie A, on the same number of points as Livorno and one point behind Chievo in 17th, and four from safety.
League table courtesy of FIFA.com
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