In a day full of some dire results, Torino and Napoli facing off at the Olimpico gave calcio fans a treat on the eve of Easter Sunday.
Eight goals were scored on Saturday, the highest number in a Serie A match this season. Napoli, who were temporarily a point behind AC Milan, knew that a victory was needed if they wanted to secure second place at the end of the campaign. Blerim Dzemaili, playing against his former team, broke the deadlock and gave the visitors a lead on 10 minutes with a sizzling strike from distance. That was erased as Paulo Barreto capitalized on some poor Partenopei defending and slid it in to tie things up at one.
Just when things appeared to be going well for the hosts, Matteo Darmian fouled Cristian Maggio in his own penalty area, giving Marek Hamsik a chance to give Napoli the lead before the half, but Jean-Francois Gillet saved it, keeping things level. It’s the eighth spot kick from 17 that the Azzurri have missed over the last two Serie A seasons.
Napoli would make amends through Dzemaili again early in the second interval. Hamsik, trying to redeem himself for his miss in the first half, fed the Swiss international, who squeezed it in past Gillet to make it 2-1. Then it was Toro’s turn to bury a penalty after Edinson Cavani appeared to have handled the ball in the box. Jonathas, unlike Hamsik, took the opportunity and made it 2-2 with just over 15 minutes to play.
Riccardo Meggiorini would send the Olimpico into a frenzy a few moments later. Off a counter, Alessio Cerci stormed through the middle of the pitch, played in a through ball for Meggiorini, who rounded the goalkeeper Antonio Rosati and made it 3-2 with a little over 10 minutes remaining. The Granata appeared to be out of the woods.
That wasn’t the case, though. Like Napoli always does, they turned it up a notch late in the game. Sometimes it succeeds for them, other times they fail to get a result. This match would produce some magic for them as Dzemaili broke the hearts of his former side and scored on a curled effort just two minutes after Meggiorini gave Torino the lead. Having not celebrated on his first two tallies, Dzemaili saw it fit to show some emotion as it looked like his club were down and out. He slid hard on his knees, pumped his fists, and let it all out in front of the Turin faithful.
The exhilarating half still wasn’t done after all of that. Cavani, like his teammate Hamsik, nullified his error that gave Torino their second goal by getting one of his own off a free kick. He added another early into stoppage time, giving him 22 on the year. He most likely has the Capocannoniere race sealed up as he leads Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy by six goals with eight games left.
One thing that isn’t decided yet for Napoli is their position in the table. They’re still second with 59 points, nine behind Juventus, but the Scudetto isn’t their main worry anymore, it’s finishing as the runners up. Milan are on 57 points and both of these teams face each other in two weeks at the San Siro. The winner would most likely take hold of second place and would realistically stay there as there would be five games left on the schedule after that Sunday.
Other talking points:
- Torino’s bad luck continues. They’ve scored the most goals (three) by a losing team this season, and have done so on two occasions. The other being their 4-3 loss against Cagliari on February 24th.
- The derby d’Italia was deemed dead in this edition of the great rivalry between Inter and Juventus. However with some pushing, shoving, controversial refereeing decisions, and a back and forth affair between these two, it was as if they were both neck and neck in fighting for the Scudetto. Juve eventually won 2-1, their fourth victory in five games.
- It also marks the first time that Inter have lost back to back matches under coach Andrea Stramaccioni. The Nerazzurri are now 5-5-8 since ending the Bianconeri’s 49 game undefeated streak in November in Turin.
- The shocker of the day goes to Palermo as they shut out Roma 2-0 at the Renzo Barbera. The Rosanero hadn’t won in 16 straight, but on their 17th attempt, they finally grabbed their fourth victory of the season. They’re now just three points behind 17th place Genoa for Serie A safety.
- Another big game in the race for survival was Genoa hosting Siena. They fought to a 2-2 draw. The Grifone have failed to win in their last five games, yet are still two points clear of safety with eight matches left. Siena, meanwhile, are right behind them in 18th.
- AC Milan won again, though they do so in ugly fashion, emerging victorious 1-0 away to Chievo. Riccardo Montolivo scored the only goal of the match, it’s his fourth against the flying donkeys in his career, more than any other side in Serie A.
- Cagliari continued their good form, winning 2-1 against Fiorentina in an empty Is Arena. The Sardinians are 6-4-1 in their last 11 games, propelling themselves into 11th, 12 points clear of the relegation zone.
- Lazio relied on an own goal and penalty to get a 2-1 victory against Catania, but at this point they’ll take any win they can get. They’re 2-2-6 in their last 10 games and have fallen from a Champions League place to fifth, seven points behind third place AC Milan.
Other results: Parma 3-0 Pescara; Atalanta 0-0 Sampdoria; Udinese 0-0 Bologna