It was billed as a matchday that could alter the dynamic of the 2021/22 Serie A season.
Milan’s victory in the Derby della Madonnina had tightened the Scudetto race, while Juventus’ rise following their victory in the January mercato left some projecting a four-way fight for the title with the Bianconeri emerging as a late outsider.
Thus, the importance of Matchday 25 appeared paramount in the context of shaping how the rest of the season would play out. Dropped points for Inter in Naples followed by a Juve victory in Bergamo would surely have more suspecting a late assault from the Bianconeri.
Serie A Matchday 25 round-up
So, how did it play out? Let’s take a look as we round up all the action across Serie A on Matchday 25.
Points all round
The first significant contest of the weekend took place in Naples on Saturday evening as league leaders Inter faced contenders Napoli.
The hosts, who are unbeaten in Serie A this year, started brilliantly and took a deserved lead through a Lorenzo Insigne penalty. Victor Osimhen, who won the spot-kick, was tearing Stefan de Vrij apart and Napoli went close to doubling their advantage but Piotr Zielinski’s effort crashed against the post.
Inter settled thereafter, but their first-half display was drab at best. However, a fortuitous sequence allowed Edin Dzeko to poach home an equaliser at the start of the second half. The Bosnian’s strike was the final notable event in a tight and tense battle between two of Italy’s best as both sides seemed content with a point by the end.
Nevertheless, Inter’s draw allowed Milan to pounce and on Sunday, the Rossoneri went top after claiming a comfortable 1-0 win over Sampdoria.
Juventus, however, missed a huge opportunity to close the gap on the top three against Atalanta. They could only muster a point in Bergamo following Danilo’s late header.
Lazio enter the top-four race
Juventus’ draw with Atalanta allowed other top-four contenders to close the gap. Lazio were the main beneficiaries as they beat Bologna 3-0 at the Olimpico to move within four points of the Old Lady.
The Biancocelesti are unbeaten in their last four league outings with Mattia Zaccagni’s emergence arriving at an optimal time. The former Hellas Verona star scored twice in Saturday’s win.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, were able to stay within touching distance of the top-four after claiming a late 2-1 victory away at a resurgent Spezia. It was a game of atonement as Krzysztof Piątek atoned for his penalty miss to open the scoring from close range and Sofyan Amrabat made up for his error that resulted in Spezia’s equaliser by drilling home the winner from distance with just a minute remaining.
The other contender, AS Roma, rescued a point in stoppage time against Sassuolo on Sunday evening. Hamed Traore, having scored a pearler in his side’s Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus in the week, was the Neroverdi’s hero as he scored with 20 minutes remaining to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
However, Gian Marco Ferrari’s second yellow card handed the Giallorossi a route back into the contest and they made their man advantage count in the dying embers as Bryan Cristante levelled things up at the death.
Big wins for the V’s
Hellas Verona returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion as they thumped Udinese 4-0. Fabio Depaoli, Antonin Barak, Gianluca Caprari and Adrien Tameze were on target for the hosts amid a notably efficient display.
Udinese outshot Igor Tudor’s side by 21 to six in their drubbing.
Verona’s triumph saw them extend their advantage over Torino in mid-table obscurity as Ivan Juric’s Toro fell to back-to-back defeats with the Derby della Mole on the horizon.
The relegation-threatened Venezia came from behind to stun Torino and end their impressive unbeaten run at home.
Best of the rest
Neither Genoa nor Salernitana could claim three points as Serie A’s bottom two faced off in Liguria on Sunday afternoon. Mattia Destro’s opener was cancelled out by Federico Bonazzoli before half-time as Genoa drew their 12th (!!!) game of the season.
For both sides, the signs are ominous with relegation looming.
Cagliari, however, are doing all they can to escape the threat of Serie B and they followed up their victory in Bergamo by securing a well-earned point away at Empoli. Andrea Pinamonti was once again on the scoresheet for the hosts but Leonardo Pavoletti tapped home a late equaliser for the visitors.
Walter Mazzarri’s side were joined on 21 points by Venezia, but Cagliari’s superior goals scored record is keeping them above the Venetians in the Serie A table.