Serie A went crazy last weekend as, as if by mutual consent, cautiousness was thrown out the window, negative tactics were replaced with a gung-ho attitude and open season was declared on the title race. An absurd total of thirty-nine goals were scored in ten games, including a 5-3 romp at Genoa, a freak three all draw at Juventus and an astonishing 3-1 victory by Catania over a team they hadn’t been able to beat since 1961.
Round 28 started out with a bang on Friday as Catania dropped the bomb and blew the Scudetto race wide open. The Sicilian relegation candidates beat Inter 3-1 and teed up a perfect opportunity for the challengers AC Milan and AS Roma (who were trailing by three and six points respectively) to gain some vital ground in the title race.
Inter started the scoring after 54 minutes through a Diego Milito tap-in but Catania showed that they are definitely no pushovers at home despite their lowly league position. On the 74th minute, Maxi Lopez scored a crispy finish from close range, Giuseppe Mascara added the second from the spot with a cheeky chip (after Sulley Muntari had got the marching order, having picked two silly cautions within 70 seconds after his introduction) and Jorge Andres Martinez hit the final nail in Inter’s coffin as he strolled through the Inter defence, making Lucio look like he had roller-blades on without having the slightest clue how to use them, and scoring the third goal in added-time. This was a historic moment for Catania. It’s forty-nine years since their last defeat of Inter, but they were probably happier just with getting the three points that lifted them seven points clear of relegation.
Livorno-Roma, Juventus-Siena: three all
Roma travelled to Livorno on Sunday afternoon well in the knowledge that a win there would close the gap with Inter to four points. Livorno and Christiano Luccarelli had other plans though. The veteran hit-man scored a hat-trick in the 3-3 thriller (Roma’s goals scored by Simone Perrotta, Luca Toni and David Pizarro). Well, queerer things have happened than Roma bottling it just when the going gets tough.
Speaking of queer things, the spectators in Torino saw an outcome no one had expected. The host were up 3-0 after just ten minutes (Alessandro Del Piero scoring the first two, the latter one a beautifully composed half-volley, raising his all time tally to 301) but threw it all away against bottom placed Siena who showed extraordinary resilience. The visitors gallantly took the game to Juve and perhaps should have walked away with all three points. However, a point was plenty for the visitors and they will take great heart from this audacious comeback.
Milan had it all to do against Chievo in a match in which both had plenty of chances to score. The home side rattled the woodwork a couple of times and Sergio Pellissier was close to score as Milan’s Christian Abbiati was wandering far from his goal line. Milan were well on the way to blundering a perfect opportunity to close the gap on Inter when Clarence Seedorf struck a savage shot from about twenty meters in the top left corner in stoppage-time. Milan and Inter are now separated by a single point. There is life in the Scudetto race after all.
Genoa 5-3 Cagliari
There were always going to be fireworks at the Marrassi as perhaps two of Serie A’s most entertaining sides clashed fists. And the match saw no fewer than eight goals (six in the first half). Although Genoa always looked the stronger bet to score the opener, hitting the woodwork twice early on, it was the visitors who started the scoring. Daniele Dessena tapped the opener on the 16th minute after Alessandro Matri had turned Salvatore Bocchetti inside out and provider the assist. Genoa had rattled the woodworks four times before Alberto Zapater scored the equalizer from the spot. All in all, it was end-to-end stuff as both teams threw caution to the wind and went at it with both guns blazing. In the end, it was marauding Genoa that got the points. The match put the home side back in contention for Europe, lifting them to ninth.
Fiorentina finally came good after weeks of torment with bad results, even worse refereeing decisions and rumours of Prandelli leaving for Juventus or the national team. The man himself vowed his loyalty to Viola by saying that he wants to win something big with the Florence club and that he would rather sign a five-year contract extension than leave. What better way for his players to react than coming away with a 3-1 win from Napoli. Further good news was that Alberto Gilardino, rather goal-shy of late, scored two fine headers that were by no means spectacular but showed excellent instinct and positional sense (Stevan Jovetic getting the third). For Napoli it meant back-to-back defeats and seven games without a win, which pretty much puts an effective end to Walter Mazzarri’s honeymoon.
Lazio 0-2 Bari
There will be no honeymooning for Edy Reja at Lazio either. Not that the sky-blue side of Rome has been one of the fuzziest places on earth this season, or ever for that matter. And with results like this, it won’t be getting any fuzzier. Lazio lost 2-0 at home to out-of-form Bari who had lost three games on the trot and had only one away win all season before travelling to the Olimpico. Lazio are now two points above the relegation line.
Results: Bologna 1-1 Sampdoria, Catania 3-1 Inter, Genoa 5-3 Cagliari, Juventus 3-3 Siena, Lazio 0-2 Bari, Livorno 3-3 Roma, Milan 1-0 Chievo, Napoli 1-3 Fiorentina, Parma 1-0 Atalanta, Udinese 3-2 Palermo