The Scudetto race may be over, but the pursuit of European competition for next season is not. After Round 28 of Serie A, there are four (arguably five) clubs battling for a top three or top five spot.
It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but AC Milan did their job and got a 2-0 win at Genoa on Friday evening to continue their surge up the table. Their run of form since the end of October has been nothing but extraordinary. If the season started on October 27th, Milan would be top of the table with 41 points and Juventus would be trailing them by four. The Rossoneri have lost just twice in that run, winning 13 of the other 18 games they have played.
Friday was all about one thing; getting the three points. It started off well with the visitors controlling the tempo and eventually finding an opener through Giampaolo Pazzini. Just a few minutes earlier, Daniele Portanova collided with the striker, giving him a knock to his lower leg.
In the 22nd minute, he limped towards the penalty area, received a deflected pass from Mattia De Sciglio, and powered it into the corner. As he always does, Pazzini flashed his “V” with the tongue sticking out as he limped in celebration. That would be all that she wrote as he eventually came off for Mario Balotelli before the end of the half.
Genoa mounted a few opportunities of their own before the first 45 concluded, but nothing came to fruition. The Grifone continued the fast pace in the second interval, but then a familiar face extended the lead for the Diavolo in Balotelli. He had been quiet up until his strike on the hour mark, but Milanisti didn’t care as the Italian international bagged his fifth in five matches (four starts, one substitution) and gave the Milanese side a substantial advantage.
Moments later, the complexity changed again, but it took a turn for the worst for Italy’s hottest team. Kevin Constant, who has shown dramatic improvements over the last few months, picked up a second booking for an altercation with Cesare Bovo following a rash challenge. Luckily, his team held on and earned all three points which catapulted them to third, three ahead of fourth place Fiorentina and just two behind second place Napoli.
Milan faces Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the Champions League on Tuesday. Depending on how that goes, it could be the defining moment of the campaign for a team that was deemed down and out without any hope of European football for next season. How things can change.
Other talking points:
- Since the Rossoneri are only two back of Napoli, that means the Partenopei’s possible run of futility could continue, which it did. They fell 2-0 away to Chievo, conceding both goals in the first half. Chievo ended their poor form with that victory as they had gone five games without a win before Sunday afternoon.
- Napoli are on a similar streak that their counterparts just snapped, with four draws and a loss in their previous five. They’re now nine behind Juventus for the league lead, and are slowly being chased down by the likes of AC Milan and Fiorentina.
- Edinson Cavani missed a penalty for the seventh time in his career that would have given him his first tally in eight matches. It’s the longest drought the Uruguayan has had since joining the club on the peninsula.
- Fiorentina earned their second straight triumph, downing Lazio 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening. Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic scored in the first and second half respectively, meaning the Viola are now fourth and just three behind Milan for the final Champions League spot.
- Inter, on the other hand, struggled yet again. They lost for the seventh time in 17 games, having picked up just five wins in that same span. This time it was Bologna who frustrated the Nerazzurri and it was Alberto Gilardino’s seventh goal against them that put the nail in the coffin in a 1-0 triumph at the Giuseppe Meazza.
- Juventus left it for later, but they earned three points thanks to Emanuele Giaccherini’s injury time strike in the second half which gifted the Bianconeri with a 1-0 win. This win puts them nine points clear of Napoli with ten matches left to play, leaving anyone very little chance of catching the holders at this stage.
- Aurelio Andreazzoli didn’t get his fourth consecutive victory as Roma manager, but his squad is still undefeated in four following a 1-1 draw away to Udinese. Erik Lamela’s 12th of the season and first in four games gave the visitors the lead before Luis Muriel buried one in the second half, earning a point for the Zebrette.
- In a six point relegation battle, Siena came out on top against Palermo, winning 2-1 at the Renzo Barbera. Innocent Emeghara scored one and it’s his fifth goal since arriving in January. What’s even more impressive is that he’s only taken a total of six shots in the process!
- Amauri and Victor Ibarbo recorded hat tricks for Parma and Cagliari respectively. Amauri had three in the second half in the 4-1 mauling against Torino. Ibarbo’s triple came in a 3-1 romp over Sampdoria.
Other results: Atalanta 2-1 Pescara