Serie A Matchday 21 round-up – Calcio, eh?
Following the debacle of Matchday 20 which saw just six matches played, we were treated to a full set of fixtures on Matchday 21 as Serie A fans were enjoyed a FEAST of Calcio action across three days.
The games came thick and fast throughout Sunday with the eight games producing a staggering 32 goals! We witnessed an all-time classic in the capital, a majestic display from Sassuolo Nazionale and Inter return to the top of the table after they claimed their eighth straight Serie A triumph.
After a stuttering start on Matchday 20, we can now safely say that Calcio is well and truly back!
Here’s a round-up of all the latest action.
Juve’s seven minutes of heaven
We don’t usually review Juventus’ games in our Serie A round-ups, but we’d be doing Sunday’s thriller in the capital a disservice by not going back over the remarkable events that unfolded at the Olimpico.
This was a contest that had absolutely everything.
While the first half was mundane in comparison to its ludicrous successor, we still saw three Englishmen start for AS Roma for the first time in their history, slo-mo cameras unlock our inner essence by capturing Paulo Dybala’s trademark strike and yet another knee of an Italian sensation succumb to the Olimpico turf.
Then, the madness of the second period.
When Lorenzo Pellegrini’s perfect free-kick handed Roma a 3-1 advantage before the hour, Juve appeared bereft of life. Calls for Max Allegri’s head were widespread, even when Manuel Locatelli, now in a more advanced midfield role after Arthur Melo’s introduction, halved the deficit.
The Italian’s first headed finish of his senior career came in the 70th minute. By the 77th minute, Mattia De Sciglio had scored his first goal since 2017 to give the Bianconeri a 4-3 lead. Those were Juve’s seven minutes of heaven, but their remarkable comeback was almost undermined by Matthijs de Ligt, who handled in the box and was subsequently dismissed.
Pellegrini stepped up from 12 yards only for his penalty kick, struck with the sort of venom that a badger possesses, to be saved by former Roma shot-stopper Wojciech Szczesny. The Poland international has now denied the Giallorossi from the spot twice this season to hand Juve two victories.
The undisputed game of the season thus far.
Victories for Serie A’s top four
Sunday evening’s thriller was always going to be a tough act to follow, but Inter Milan and Lazio gave it a good go. The Biancocelesti weren’t overawed by the brilliant hosts and the two sides went into the break at 1-1 after Ciro Immobile cancelled out Alessandro Bastoni’s pinpoint opener.
Lazio had chances at one apiece but the Nerazzurri were superior and their pressure eventually told as Bastoni turned provider for Milan Skriniar. The Slovak crashed home his game-winning header off the bar to send Inter back to the summit with a game in hand over crosstown rivals AC.
The Rossoneri had earlier usurped Inter at the top after they eased past Venezia 3-0.
Napoli, meanwhile, were dominant in their 1-0 victory over Sampdoria. An acrobatic Andrea Petagna effort was enough for the Neapolitans to claim all three points, with Luciano Spalletti’s side proving in their opening two games of 2022 that they’ll be more than competitive despite their notable absentees.
Spalletti’s side were able to remain above Atalanta in the table after La Dea hit a depleted Udinese for six at the Friuli. Luis Muriel bagged a brace for the visitors, who scored twice late on to compound Udinese’s misery. The victory keeps Atalanta three points ahead of fifth-placed Juventus with a game in hand.
Torino & Sassuolo run riot
A hipsters paradise turned into a one-sided massacre on Sunday afternoon as Sassuolo thrashed Empoli 5-1 away from home.
The Neroverdi epitomise Forrest Gump’s notorious “…like a box of chocolates” quote and after they were held by the lowly Genoa last time out, we saw their apex at Empoli. Sass made the most of Mattia Vila’s sending off at 2-1 as future Azzurri stars Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca stole the show with help from the ever-superb Domenco Berardi.
On Monday night, Torino stunned Fiorentina in a rampant performance. Ivan Juric’s Toro raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to Wilfried Singo’s header and Josip Brekalo’s brace. Things only got worse for the pitiful visitors as Antonio Sanabria added a fourth before the hour.
Torino are now up to ninth following Monday’s victory, with Sassuolo joining them in the top half at Empoli’s expense.
Massive wins at the bottom as Genoa falter
Salernitana celebrated the exit of Claudio Lotito by upsetting Hellas Verona on the road. Their 2-1 victory was just their third of the season, with Grigoris Kastanos scoring a stunning free-kick 20 minutes from time to hand the visitors a huge three points.
The seemingly dead and buried Granata are now just six points adrift of 17th-placed Venezia, who have suddenly been sucked into the relegation battle after failing to win in seven. Spezia leapfrogged the Venetians at the weekend after they beat Genoa 1-0 thanks to an early Simone Bastoni strike. The pressure is mounting on Andriy Shevchenko, who is yet to taste victory in Liguria.
Matchday 21 concluded with high-flying Cagliari claiming their second win on the bounce to start 2022. Two of their three league wins this season have come in the past week, and they came from behind for the second game running to beat Bologna on Tuesday night. Gaston Pereiro struck a 93rd-minute winner for Cagliari, who are now just a point adrift of safety.