Honours Even In The Liguria derby, Cagliari Upsets Inter While Juventus Cruise Along: Serie A Wrap

For the second straight week, there was a derby in Serie A. This time it was the Liguria derby between Genoa and Sampdoria. Just two years ago, when the latter was relegated, Grifone supporters held a funeral for their arch rivals’ upcoming Serie B endeavour. Now in 2013, it looks like the Rossoblu will be playing second division football.

Heading into the match, Genoa were level on points (27) with fellow relegation candidates Siena and Palermo. Sampdoria, on the other hand, have enjoyed a resurgence under Delio Rossi following a troubling span under Ciro Ferrara. Samp were nine points clear of the danger zone going into Sunday, and with six games remaining after the weekend, any positive result would increase their chances of survival. Genoa, however, needed a win to get some breathing room in the battle to remain in Serie A.

With Sampdoria striker Mauro Icardi continuing to chase down the defence in the first half, Genoa conceded a free-kick just outside their box when the Argentine disposed Juraj Kucka and was pulled down. From the resulting set piece on 28 minutes, Eder struck a low driven shot under the leaping wall that left Grifone keeper Sebastien Frey helpless as the ball went in off his right post. Once again, despite playing decently, the home side were behind in a game.

After falling behind the Genoa defending became increasingly nervy and a collision between team-mates Thomas Manfredini and Emiliano Moretti allowed Lorenzo De Silvestri to break down the right, only to see his cross wasted. As the half approached its conclusion Genoa had a decent opportunity on Sergio Romero’s goal after another needless foul, but Daniele Portanova handled it well, heading Kucka’s delivery.

With Genoa knowing a defeat did little to improve their chances of relegation they began the second period far more positively than the visitors, who seemed intent to see out their slim advantage, however, even the introduction of Juan Vargas for Eros Pisano failed to improve their immediate potency in front of goal.

Vargas’ direct approach did succeed in providing several corners for the home side, but poor delivery meant little came of the opportunities, the clearest chance wasted by Kucka, volleying directly at defender Andrea Costa.

As tensions increased more fouls followed, and when Angelo Palombo’s elbow connected with Juan Vargas’ head as they contested a high ball, Genoa had a free-kick in an almost undenticle position as Eder had scored, but it was weakly struck into the Sampdoria wall. Moments later, Costa received a second booking for a needless foul on Genoa substitute Antonio Floro Flores.

It took the Grifone just two minutes to capitalise on the advantage in numbers, however, it came under fortunate circumstances as Matuzalem’s deep cross from the right wing was misplaced and sailed over Romero into the net. Sensing the opportunity to secure a valuable three points Genoa continued to press, but the Blucerchiati defence managed to hold firm until the final whistle.

That point proved valuable for Genoa, as they remained level with Palermo in 18th. It wasn’t the worst result in the world for Sampdoria either. They stayed nine points above relegation, although considering how dour the second half went, they might feel it’s two points lost. Considering their recent run of results (three losses and two draws), it would’ve done them some good. They’ve only scored three times in those five matches, conceding seven goals. Defending hasn’t been the issue, though, it’s been the attack. If Samp want to finish comfortably in the table, they’re going to need to get the offense going again.

AC Milan and Napoli

Other talking points:

  • AC Milan and Napoli fought to a 1-1 draw at the San Siro on Sunday evening. Both sides sat third and second in the table respectively, separated by four points. Milan are now just four above fourth place Fiorentina following their tie.
  • Fiorentina did their job in keeping their Champions League hopes alive by winning 2-0 against Atalanta. Despite drawing 2-2 to Milan last weekend under controversial circumstances, there’s a realistic chance they can qualify for Europe’s premier competition in 2013/14.
  • Another day, another loss for Inter. Sunday saw them suffer defeat for the 10th time in 20 matches (they’ve only won five in that run). Cagliari were the ones to “upset” the Nerazzurri this time, they drop to seventh in the table, just two points above eighth and three above ninth.
  • Juventus increased their lead at the top of the table to 11 points after a 2-0 victory at Lazio. Thanks to Napoli dropping points, the Scudetto holders are, at most, three matches away from claiming a second straight title. Lazio, meanwhile, stay in fifth, holding onto the last Europa League spot.
  • There was a major battle at the bottom of the table between hosts Pescara and Siena. The visitors stole a 3-2 victory following a late Innocent Emeghara goal. They’re now 17th, two points clear of the relegation zone with six games left.

Other results: Palermo 1-1 Bologna; Chievo 0-0 Catania; Parma 0-3 Udinese; Torino 1-2 Roma

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