The Genoa derby might not be the biggest derby in Italy but it certainly is one of the most exiting. After going seven years without a victory against their city-rivals, Genoa recorded their third consecutive victory in a highly entertaining, foul-tempered, high-tempo affair that saw two penalties, three red cards and six yellows.

Neither team lacked grit in the early stages of the game as attacks flowed from end-to-end but it was Genoa who showed more initiative. The home side received a justified penalty after Rodrigo Palacio was ploughed down in the area by Reto Ziegler. Omar Milanetto converted the penalty to put Genoa deservedly ahead on the 10th minute. The attack leading to the penalty was a sign of things to come for Sampdoria who were always a step behind the quick-fire Genoa attacks.

The visitors, however, were given a glimpse of hope as Giuseppe Biava was show the second yellow on the 45th minute. One would have expected some kind of a reaction from the visitors after the break but none was forthcoming as the Rossoblu continued dominating with ten men. The second goal came after another excellent attacking combination as Milanetto broke down an organised Samp defence with an exquisite pass (1:54 into this clip) to tee up bombarding Marco Rossi for the finish.

After the goal, there was no way for Sampdoria to ever save anything from the game. To make matters worse, Sampdoria’s Marco Rossi received his second yellow on the 66th minute for an unnecessary foul close to the half-way line. Genoa didn’t mind, though, as they kept on marauding forward.

Reto Ziegler continued his personal nightmare of an evening by hacking down Sokratis Papastrathopoulos in the area and giving away his second penalty of the night. Raffaele Palladino not only made it 3-0 but also made him the sweetheart of the Blucerchiati half of the city by celebrating wildly in front of the Sampdoria end. As the last act of ineptitude and frustration, Sampdoria’s Fabrizio Cacciatore was show a straight red for a horrible tackle on the 88th minute which remained the last notable incident during an eventful night.

One of the side-motifs of the match was the presence of about a half-a-dozen Azzurri hopefuls on the pitch at the Stadio Marassi. From the two Genoa players who are most likely heading to South-Africa, Salvatore Bochetti didn’t do his chances any harm with a solid performance at the heart of the defence while Domenico Criscito had a decent if unspectacular game in midfield. Palladino, who featured in the last friendly match against Sweden, was energetic and scored a well-executed penalty but lacked vision with the ball on a couple of occasions, opting for a dribble when a pass was clearly the right option. If this was not a World Cup year, the ever-present and effective Giuseppe Sculli, starting the match as a central forward, could be looking forward to a call up.

From the Sampdoria hopefuls, Giampaolo Pazzini had a frustrating evening, being left isolated upfront for long periods as Sampdoria were unable to penetrate the Genoa third of the pitch with controlled attacks. Antonio Cassano never really got going either, being resorted to drop deeper and deeper for the ball, exactly to the areas where Genoa wanted him. The biggest individual disappointment, however, was Angelo Palombo, the Sampdoria captain, who was out-classed by Milanetto and Ivan Juric in midfield. Genoa won the midfield battle hands down due to the guile of two seasoned 34 year-olds and at no point could the Sampdoria midfield contain the two veterans who dictated the play with intelligent passing and stealthy movement.

The season’s first Derby della Lanterna presented two teams clearly heading in different directions. Sampdoria are still fourth with twenty-four points but Genoa are already breathing hard on their back as they climbed to sixth and are only one point behind their neighbours. Sampdoria missed the perfect opportunity to resurrect some of their early season brilliance and, as a result, the morale-trashing defeat on Saturday might even plunge them into a full-blown crisis. So, honeymooning is definitely over for Sampdoria and Luigi Del Neri who really needs to start figuring out a plan-b for occasions when the opposition is more than capable in containing their two attacking talismans. For Genoa the victory signalled the end of a difficult month and might provide the spark to ignite their chase for a Champions League finish.

Meanwhile…

Juventus continued a terrible week that first saw them crash 2-0 at Bordeaux with another 2-0 defeat at Cagliari. With season defining fixtures coming up at home against Inter and Bayern Munich, Ciro Ferrara must find keys to revive his team or else he might find himself out of a job.

Fiorentina were left frustrated after loosing 1-0 at Inter, and none more so than Alberto Gilardino who came SO close in scoring the goal of the season (one minute and six seconds into this clip).