Serie A served up more drama as calcio fans enjoyed another brilliant weekend of action following the October international break.
The 2021/22 season is only eight matchdays old but, already, there’s an overriding sense that this Serie A campaign could be a memorable one at both ends of the table. Juventus’ return to form has added a familiar but perhaps welcoming dimension to the Scudetto race, with several teams set to lock horns in a title fight this time around.
The Bianconeri’s 1-0 victory over AS Roma on Sunday night was their fourth league win in a row and they now sit a mere point off the top-four after enduring a wretched start to the new season. Napoli, however, remain some distance away at the summit after they won again on Matchday 8.
Before we give away too much, let’s dive into our round-up of the weekend’s action.
Drama at the Olimpico
Simone Inzaghi’s return to the Stadio Olimpico ended in defeat and controversy as Lazio prevailed as 3-1 victors over Inter Milan.
The Nerazzurri took an early lead through an Ivan Perisic penalty and looked in control of the contest before Alessandro Bastoni was penalised for a handball to gift Lazio a penalty midway through the second half. Ciro Immobile then converted his customary penalty against Samir Handanovic.
Then came the major talking point. With Federico Dimarco down on the field, Lazio refused to kick the ball out (Lautaro Martinez hadn’t in the previous attack) and they took full advantage of a depleted Inter backline. Immobile’s shot was parried by Handanovic into the path of a grateful Felipe Anderson, who tapped home from the zone Dimarco likely would’ve occupied.
It was tough on the Nerazzurri, and their fury was understandable, but the Biancocelesti were well within their right to continue.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic put the icing on another huge victory for Maurizio Sarri before the melodrama continued after the final whistle. Luiz Felipe saw red after celebrating on the shoulders of an old friend and former Lazio star Joaquin Correa.
Ivan Juric’s Torino once again proved a tough proposition for one of Serie A’s leading contenders at the weekend.
Eventually, though, league leaders Napoli broke through Il Toro’s stout rearguard after Lorenzo Insigne had his penalty saved in the first half and Giovanni Di Lorenzo had his header ruled out following VAR intervention.
In need of a hero, Victor Osimhen quite literally rose to the occasion. The Nigerian’s thumping header with ten minutes remaining ensured the Neapolitans maintained their 100% start to the league season through eight games.
Milan & Atalanta win
AC Milan are just about keeping pace with Napoli after they staged a thrilling second-half comeback at home to a much-improved Hellas Verona.
Goals from Gianluca Caprari and the marvelous Antonin Barak thrust the visitors into a shock 2-0 lead before the half-hour mark. Olivier Giroud kick-started the Rossoneri resurgence after the break with a trademark header before the hosts were gifted a penalty following a soft call on Samu Castillejo.
Franck Kessie duly converted from 12 yards and two minutes later, Koray Gunter’s horrible mix-up with his own feet handed the hosts their first lead of the contest – one they wouldn’t relinquish.
Another potential contender, Atalanta, produced their most scintillating display of the season as they thumped Empoli 4-1 on the road. Josip Ilicic rekindled his 2019/20 form with a brace, while Duvan Zapata was on the scoresheet again.
Huge victories down the bottom
Spezia claimed victory in the early relegation six-pointer with Salernitana. The hosts rallied from a goal behind after Simy opened the scoring for the visitors. David Stralec levelled proceedings before a superb Viktor Kovalenko strike gave Spezia the lead and eventual victory.
The defeat cost manager Fabrizio Castori his job with Salernitana languishing at the foot of the table having claimed four points from their opening eight games.
Cagliari also earned a massive three points at home to a disappointing Sampdoria side. Joao Pedro and Martin Caceres lifted the hosts into a 2-0 lead before Morten Thorsby pulled one back with ten minutes remaining. Following a nervy finish, Pedro rounded off Cagliari’s triumph with a 94th-minute third.
That was Cagliari’s first Serie A win of the season.
We saw two forgettable draws take place on Sunday afternoon.
A gutsy Udinese snatched a point at home to Bologna despite playing with ten men for 52 minutes following Roberto Pereyra’s dismissal. Beto cancelled out Musa Barrow’s opener with eight minutes remaining.
Simultaneously, Genoa battled back from two goals behind to draw 2-2 with Sassuolo. Young gun Gianluca Scamacca bagged an early brace for the visitors before Mattia Destro halved Genoa’s deficit after 27 minutes. Chances arrived at both ends before Johan Vasquez grabbed a late equaliser for the hosts, who sit 18th in the table.
The weekend then concluded with Venezia beating Fiorentina 1-0 thanks to a Mattia Aramu strike. It was a hugely disappointing night for Vincenzo Italiano’s side, who have seen their early momentum thwarted after losing three of their last four Serie A outings.