We all love a midweek round of Serie A fixtures, right?
Amid a busy December schedule, the games are arriving thick and fast across Italy with four matchdays still in order before the winter break. Matchday 15 saw games spread out from Tuesday to Thursday in the week, as teams either looked to build on the momentum or rebound from their results last weekend.
So, what went down in Calcio during the week? Let’s take a look.
Napoli falter as the Milan clubs close the gap
After opening up a three-point lead at the top of Serie A following their 4-0 thumping of Lazio on Matchday 14, Napoli stumbled in the week. Away at Sassuolo, fresh off their victory in Milan, Luciano Spalletti’s side collapsed late on to draw 2-2.
Fabian Ruiz and the purring Dries Mertens gave the visitors a 2-0 lead before Gianluca Scamacca halved the deficit with a thunderous strike after 71 minutes. Then, just as it looked like Napoli would grind out a huge three points, Gian Marco Ferrari leapt highest from a Domenico Berardi free-kick and converted a pinpoint header to level things up with a minute left. It could’ve got worse for Spalletti’s side, who completely folded in the dying embers, as Gregoire Defrel thought he’d won it for the Neroverdi, only for his goal to be ruled out for a foul in the build-up.
Napoli will also be concerned about the fitness of Lorenzo Insigne and Kalidou Koulibaly, who were both forced off at the Mapei with injuries.
Sassuolo’s comeback means the gap between first and third is now just two points. Inter Milan continued their unbeaten run as they breezed past Spezia 2-0, while AC Milan comfortably dealt with Andriy Shevchenko’s Genoa by beating them 3-0. Junior Messias scored a brace for the Rossoneri.
Mayhem at the Olimpico
Matchday 15 in Serie A concluded with an utterly ludicrous game of football at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday night. Maurizio Sarri pitted his wits against former assistant Luca Gotti as Lazio hosted Udinese.
Beto scored twice for the visitors to open up a 2-0 lead in the opening period before Ciro Immobile and Nahuel Molina traded strikes to hand Udinese a 3-1 lead at half-time. Then came the Biancocolesti resurgence. Goals from Pedro and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic restored parity for the hosts before Francesco Acerbi thought he’d won it only for Tolgay Arslan to rescue a point for the visitors in the ninth minute of stoppage time.
Eight goals. Two red cards. Calcio, eh?
Pasalic & Vlahovic continue to deliver
Mario Pasalic and Dusan Vlahoic produced the goods for their respective sides once more as Atalanta beat Venezia 4-0 while Fiorentina overcame Sampdoria 3-1.
Pasalic scored a hat-trick for La Dea to take his season tally up to seven as Atalanta now sit just five points off the leaders Napoli and six points clear of AS Roma in fifth after the Giallorossi fell to a 1-0 defeat away at Bologna.
Vlahovic’s Viola, meanwhile, remain level on points with Juventus but their superior goal difference has them ahead of the Bianconeri in the Serie A table. They’re sixth with Juve seventh after 15 games.
The points are shared
The points were shared in the other two fixtures on Matchday 15. First, Cagliari held Hellas Verona to a stalemate before a Wilfried Singo red card allowed Empoli back into the contest against Torino.
Ivan Juric’s side raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Tommaso Pobega and Juventus loanee Marko Pjaca, who scored a peach from distance. Singo’s dismissal after 32 minutes completely altered the dynamic of the contest as Simone Romagnoli immediately halved Empoli’s deficit. Torino clung on but they were eventually pegged back by Andrea La Mantia with 20 minutes remaining. The visitors pushed for a winner, but the hosts held on for a point.