Where to start with Matchday 17 in Serie A, eh?
We saw a fourth title contender emerge while one falters, a competent Juventus, managerial casualties and yet another Cagliari draw! It was a corker of a weekend across Italy, but what do you expect. Calcio is unrivalled.
Here’s a summary of all the action from Serie A on Matchday 17.
A changing of the guard at the summit
How the tables have turned. A 4-0 victory over Lazio on Matchday 14 opened up a three-point lead at the top of Serie A for Napoli yet, two matchdays later, they now sit four points adrift of the leaders in third.
Luciano Spalletti was without Lorenzo Insigne and Kalidou Koulibaly as his side fell to a 3-2 home defeat against Atalanta on Saturday night. The hosts had taken a 2-1 lead early in the second half but a brilliant Merih Demiral goal restored parity before a cool Remo Freuler calmly placed home the winner.
It was a miserable day for the Neapolitans, who saw both Milan clubs usurp them in the standings. First, AC Milan made light work of Salernitana as early goals from Franck Kessie and Alexis Saelemaekers was enough to see the Rossoneri home via a 2-0 scoreline.
Then, Inter produced a first-half masterclass to sink AS Roma 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. Hakan Calhanoglu was instrumental in the victory as he opened the scoring directly from a corner before Edin Dzeko doubled the Nerazzurri’s lead after 24 minutes. Denzel Dumfries was then the beneficiary of a magical Alessandro Bastoni cross to add a third before the break, as Simone Inzaghi’s men kept the Giallorossi at bay in the second half.
Inter are just a point off league leaders Milan having won four straight, while Atalanta have made up huge ground on the top three. La Dea have won five on the bounce with third-placed Napoli just two points ahead. Could this be a four-horse race for the Scudetto?
Hellas’ remarkable comeback
The standout contest from Sunday came from Venice as Hellas Verona came from 3-0 down to win 4-3 in a thrilling bout.
Venezia were rampant in the opening 30 minutes as they raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Pietro Ceccaroni, Domen Crnigoj and Thomas Henry. Henry then inadvertently headed into his own net to give the visitors a pulse before Ceccaroni’s dismissal just after the hour proved to be fatal for the hosts despite their two-goal advantage at the time.
Gianluca Caprari immediately cut the deficit to one as he converted from the spot following Ceccaroni’s cynical handball. Giovanni Simeone levelled things up just two minutes later and, from there, the contest was only heading one way.
Simeone struck the final blow with five minutes remaining to complete an incredible comeback for Igor Tudor’s side in the Venetian derby. Their renaissance under the former Juventus assistant continues, while a bruised Venezia have the chance to pick themselves up against the Bianconeri on Matchday 17.
D’Aversa on the brink
Despite claiming back-to-back victories on Matchdays 13 and 14, Sampdoria boss Roberto D’Aversa is on the brink of the sack after falling to a 3-1 defeat at home to Lazio on Sunday evening.
Samp were beaten by Fiorentina on Matchday 15 by the same scoreline and they fell three goals behind to Maurizio Sarri’s stuttering Biancocelesti before half-time in this one.
Summer arrival Mattia Zaccagni found his best form and produced his finest showing in Lazio colours as he teed up Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who was later sent off, and Ciro Immobile for the game’s opening two goals. The Italian marksman then added a third before the break.
The hosts improved after the restart but they could only muster a mere consolation through Manolo Gabbiadini with a minute remaining.
For D’Aversa, it appears the Sampdoria boss had Friday night’s Derby della Lanterna to save his job. Anything but victory against Genoa will surely see his reign come to a close.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Dusan Vlahovic scored from the spot as Fiorentina overcame Bologna 3-2 on the road, while a Giacomo Raspadori brace rescued a point for the unpredictable Sassuolo away at Spezia.
Monday night action
Two games on Monday night rounded off Matchday 16 in Serie A. First up, the exuberant Empoli ended Luca Gotti’s stint as Udinese boss. A come-from-behind 3-1 victory for the hosts helped them up to 11th in the table with Gotti leaving the Zebrette without a win in four matches and just six points ahead of Cagliari in 18th.
Speaking of whom, the Sardinians were held to yet another point on Matchday 16. This time it was the turn of Ivan Juric’s Torino to share a point with Walter Mazzarri’s side as Joao Pedro’s acrobatic effort cancelled out Andrea Carboni’s own goal. That’s Cagliari’s seventh draw this season and fourth on the spin!