Sundays clash at the Stadio Bentegodi, was the match-up of two new coaches. For the Gialloblu, it was , Stefano Pioli and for Catania, Marco Giampaolo. The game was effectively settled by Sergio Pellissier’s controversial penalty, but leading up to that incident it was a fascinating battle.
The flying donkey’s followers knew that this game was massively important for their season. In the words of Pioli prior to the game “it is imperative, that we get off to a flying start”. The fans of both clubs knew that for either of them to have a decent season (which doesn’t involve a relegation battle), three points at the Bentegodi was a must.
It was a hugely appreciative Bentegodi when the Gialloblu took the lead with virtually their first attack. Catania handing a perfect chance when Silvestre’s awful clearance in the final third of the pitch was deflected allowing Moscardelli to race through and drill a neat finish at the near post.
Catania should’ve levelled matters just moments later, but Adrian Ricchiuti just failed to return the compliment after Giuseppe Mascara had laid the ball off to him and raced into space for the return. Fans of the Elefantini should not have worried however, as their side were level just moments later. The Gialloblu’s defenders stood appealing for offside in vain, Ricchiuti raced away courtesy of a brilliant dummy by Mascara. The attacking midfielder held his nerve as he was confronted by the onrushing Sorrentino, to perfectly lift the ball over him and into the empty net. At this point in proceedings, it was hard to separate the two sides in terms of possession or chances created.
Sergio Pellissier should have got off the mark for the season, but he just failed to make contact with Davide Moscardelli’s cross shot. Moments later, Andujar dropped a Michele Marcolini free kick, but recovered enough to block and hold onto Bostjan Cesar’s follow-up.
At the other end, Ricchiuti’s close control let him down as he attempted a spectacular volley. This brought an end to a first half of entertaining football. There was a definite buzz around the terraces of the Bentegodi during the break, as both sets of supporters believed they had reason to be optimistic for the season ahead. At the break, Catania introduced Nicolas Spolli for Terlizzi. This resulted in a rather unprecedented occurrence as Catania’s starting eleven for the second half included nine Argentines. We are used to seeing eight or nine foreigner players in Inter’s first team, but not nine players of the same nationality in one team. A strong majority of South Americans wasn’t enough to swing the match in Catania’s favour however.
Pretty soon after the start of the second half, Sergio Pellissier laid the ball off for Bentivoglio, but his effort was brilliantly saved by Andujar.
After 66 minutes, the Gialloblu made a double substitution. They brought on Uruguayan front man Pablo Granoche and new summer signing from Napoli Mariano Bogliacino. This led to the flying donkeys having two great opportunities in quick succession. Firstly, Luciano headed an almost perfect Michele Marcolini cross just wide, then Pellissier was handed an even better chance from Bogliacino’s lay off, but the skipper failed to get it under control with an exposed Andujar to beat. This left the Elefantini mightily grateful to still be in a ball game where they should have been buried. The atmosphere inside the Bentegodi, although still optimistic was definitely visibly tense.
The momentum had shifted as Chievo seized control and it was all one way traffic. It began to seem like only a matter of time before the Gialloblu made their dominance count. Soon Pellissier found himself free once more inside the box, this time he fired his shot into the side netting from a very tight angle. He was fast becoming the key man.
So it was to prove with eight minutes left when the decisive moment came. Alvarez very visibly pushed Pellissier in the back, but the original contact almost definitely came outside the box. However, referee Bergonzi pointed almost immediately to the spot without hesitation. Pellissier dusted himself off , took aim and fired his shot perfectly along the ground with Andujar not even moving.
This proved to be the decisive moment. Maybe it shouldn’t have been given, but no-one can deny that on second half display alone, the Gialloblu deservedly took all three points and look set for a decent season. Stefano Pioli would wish for the season to be halted now, because before Inter and Bologna kick a ball on Monday night, the flying donkeys are sat in fourth spot and the Champions League beckons. Roll on the international break.