Round twenty two of Serie A saw all the major Scudetto contenders pick up a win under their belt, baring Juventus, to keep up the pressure on Milan, who at the top of the league. Meanwhile, Roma has their match against Bologna suspended due to heavy snowfall at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.
Early on Saturday, a brace from Kozák helped Lazio to inflict a 2-0 win over Fiorentina. The twin strikes from the talented Czech youngster meant that the Roman side joined Napoli at second place on the table with 40 points. However, the latter then had a game in hand. Saturday also saw Allegri’s men lock horns against Catania in the last match of the day. After a clumsy first half, which almost saw Merkel picking up a red card, all hell broke lose. Van Bommel remained true to his reputation and in his league debut picked up a red card in the 53rd minute. Just 5 minutes after the incident, Robinho rose to the occasion and netted one for the visitors, bringing the pressure back on the Rossazzurri. The Brazilian further provided an assist to his Swede teammate Ibrahimovic, in the 85th minute, to seal the game for the Rossoneri.
Sunday saw goals galore in Serie A, as Napoli handed Sampdoria a humiliating 4-0 defeat, courtesy a hattrick by Cavani. Napoli has now closed in on Milan on both aspects – points as well as goal difference.
Genoa picked up their first win of the year against Parma. Paletta proved to be the villain for the latter. Not only did he give away a penalty but also scored an own goal, resulting in wild celebrations amongt the home fans.
Juventus ran into an in-form Udinese in the late night kick-off at Turin on Sunday. The game came to life at the hour mark when Marchisio scored for the hosts, against the run of play. Udinese restored parity after Zapata scored for them in the 67th minute, thanks to some sloppy defending by Juventus. The defenders failed to clear the ball from the danger zone. Sanchez showed once again as to why is he on the wish list of almost all major European clubs. He scored the winner for Udinese just five minutes from the final whistle. The high voltage encounter finished with both sides reduced to ten men, as first Bonucci and then the goal scorer Sanchez picked up a red card each.
Match of the week: Inter v/s Palermo 3-2
Inter hosted Palermo at the San Siro, in a replay of the Coppa Italia, early on Sunday evening. The Nerazzurri proved once again as to why no one should count them out of the Scudetto. They made an epic comeback in the second half to deny Palermo any chance to snap their first ever victory over the Italian champions, in over eleven matches, at their den. The visitors started the game by playing an entertaining brand of football and went into the break leading by two goals. Leonardo’s men were yet to breach the Palermo defense.
Leonardo introduced both his winter market signings, Pazzini and Kharja, at the start of second half. Their introduction, along with Leo’s team talk, did wonders for the hosts, as went on to erase the two goals deficit. Inter Milan then took the lead within a space of nineteen minutes, thanks to Pazzini and Eto’o. The former was the protagonist in Inter’s win, as the Cameroonian striker converted a penalty in 76th minute, to give them the lead. Eto’o however, was given a yellow card by the match referee after he went a little overboard with his celebrations.
Palermo could still have walked away with a solitary point, but for Julio Cesar. The Brazilian made a heroic save, to prevent the Maicon from conceding an own goal, minutes before the final whistle.
Star of the week: Pazzini (Inter Milan)
Pazzini made a dream debut for the Serie A holders. A brace and a penalty earned for the team, in quick time, is no mean feat. More so as, Inter made a remarkable comeback to collect 3 vital points over Palermo on Sunday. He started on the bench and was introduced by Leonardo at the start of second half and was on his mark from the very first moment. Coutinho, who had a miserable first forty five minutes, made way for Inter’s latest signing. After joining Inter from Sampdoria, on 28th of this month, Pazzini had stated that he wanted to win a lot of trophies with Inter. He certainly didn’t disappoint his team and fans in his first outing.
Pazzini played a pivotal role for Inter. He was involved in all the three Inter goals and rightfully gets the nod over Napoli’s Cavani, as the star of the week.
Goal of the week: Fabrizio Miccoli (Palermo)
Flop(s) of the week: Gigi Delneri (Coach Juventus)
He persisted with the same tactics and pattern of play, throughout ninety minutes, irrespective of what the situation demanded. Although Del Piero had the only chance for Juventus in the first half, neither him nor Martinez were playing an attractive game in the second half and should have been substituted. However, Delneri thought otherwise.
He didn’t bring on Libertazzi to inject some pace in the game, despite the fact that Udinese were toying around with the Bianconeri. The primavera player was brought on, but only with 2 minutes left on the clock. That certainly wasn’t enough for him to be a part of the game. One could also not fathom his decision to substitute Aquilani, an attacking player, for a defending mid fielder Sissoko, after his team went down by a goal in the final minutes of the match. Udinese was far the better team. Delneri thus failed to impress with his managerial acumen.
Javier Pastore (Palermo)
He had a decent game, but it is his inability to convert was the chief reason as to why Palermo had to walk away without any point from San Siro. The Argentine should have sealed the game for Palermo, but his powerful shot from a close range hit the wood work just before the half time whistle. He had another opportunity to redeem himself, just after Inter had got one back, but he failed to convert Palermo’s first penalty kick in the Serie A this season. A lacklustre display coupled with a penalty miss, earns Pastore the crown of the flop of the week.
Race for the Golden Boot:
|Antonio Di Natale||15|
|Marco Di Vaio||13|
Lazio 2- 1 Fiorentina
Catania 0-2 Milan
Brescia 0- 3 Chievo
Napoli 4-0 Sampdoria
Genoa 3-1 Parma
Inter 3-2 Palermo
Cagliari 2-1 Bari
Lecce 1-1 Cessena
Juventus 1- 2 Udinese
Team of the week: 4-3-3