An ill-tempered Derby della Lanterna and Juventus’ continuing plight were the headlines on Matchday 34 with Inter also back to winning ways.
All eyes were on the Sunday evening match between fierce local rivals Genoa and Sampdoria in what was certain to be an emotional, full-blooded affair. With il Grifone in the unaccustomed role as favourites and 16 points ahead of their rivals there seemed to be an added sense of spice to proceedings. Samp’s recent record at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris was very good going into the game and with both Coaches blessed with almost a full set of players to choose from the stage was well and truly set.
The early stages of the game were littered with fouls as this fierce battle was already threatening to boil over. However, through the constant fouling and kicking, the match itself had a fast, frenetic pace to it as both sides created chances in the opening exchanges. First Giampaolo Pazzini’s close range effort was deflected over following good work from strike partner Antonio Cassano before Diego Milito’s mazy run was halted just in time with the ball falling kindly for the Samp defence. The opening 20 minutes had already served up three bookings and as the tempo of the match hit new heights, a flurry of openings came and went.
Cassano, usually so deadly in front of goal, skied an Angelo Palombo cut back before Milito stung Luca Castellazzi’s hands from 20 yards. The Samp No. 1 could only parry it for a corner and it proved costly for the visitors as Giuseppe Biava’s flick-on found Milito who poked home from close range on 29 minutes.
The second half started in similar vein to the first as the Blucerchiati created an early chance with Paolo Sammarco the culprit after firing over when he really should have tested Genoa ‘keeper Rubinho. The game turned scrappy after the break with collisions and fouls more at the forefront than any goal-mouth action. But as the game looked to be heading for a stalemate, Argentine hitman Milito grabbed his second of game to restore the Rossoblu’s advantage. The Grifone will take no awards for the beauty of the goal but Milito’s expert finish will be all that mattered for the home crowd following a lucky ricochet and poor defending on Samp’s part.
With just over fifteen minutes left in a game of few real clear cut chances, frustration got the better of Cassano who cut a furious figure as he took his complaints too far with the former Roma man irate about the numerous fouls he had suffered throughout the match. Samp needed their star man to stand up when it mattered but his outburst was just the start of an ill-tempered final 15 minutes. The Blucerchiati tirelessly went about finding an equaliser but Genoa’s backline stood strong and the visitors just couldn’t find any gaps. The remaining incidents of the match were mainly red cards as the game erupted and both sets of players lost their discipline. After an excellent bit of defending from Salvatore Bocchetti, to which Pazzini rather easily hit the deck inside the penalty area, Matteo Ferrari took exception to the former Fiorentina striker’s apparent ‘dive’ and after some initial shoving, a full blown brawl broke out with Ferrari eventually sent for an early bath.
Play resumed as both players retreated but just a minute later, tempers flared yet again, this time following Gennaro Delvecchio innocuously injuring Genoa keeper Rubinho in what seemed an accidental collision. By now the game was largely a free-for-all brawl which was eventually halted as Thiago Motta and Campagnaro got their marching orders. Eventually both sides realised this was football and not boxing and Samp began launching endless attacks on the Grifone goal but it was Genoa and Milito who would have the last laugh. With the visitors throwing everyone forward in trying for an equaliser, the Rossoblu broke and Raffaele Palladino bore down on goal before selflessly squaring for Milito who slotted in for his hat trick.
It was the sucker-punch and one Samp did not have the time to come back from. The game ended with yet more fighting as the red midst descended once more, but as the referee blew up it was Genoa who celebrated after a breathless finale. The result leaves Sampdoria stranded in mid-table with their league campaign all but over, although the Rossoblu have Milito to thank for keeping them well and truly on the Viola’s heels and in the race for that fourth and final Champions League spot.
Elsewhere, Inter took another step towards the Scudetto after second half goals from Zlatan Ibrahimović and Sulley Muntari were enough to dispatch of struggling Lazio, while Milan kept José Mourinho’s men just about in sight after comfortably overcoming Catania by the same score line, with Kaká on the score sheet and Filippo Inzaghi netting his 11th goal in eight matches. Juventus’ desperate situation worsened further after a dramatic last gasp equaliser from José Ignacio Castillo forced a share of the spoils after Pavel Nedvěd’s brace looked to have been enough for Claudio Ranieri’s beleaguered troops.
Fiorentina secured another important win in the race for fourth thanks to another Juan Manuel Vargas goal, although Torino was denied a priceless point in stoppages when Ivan Franceschini’s close range finish was incorrectly ruled out for offside. Palermo thumped Cagliari with Fabrizio Miccoli in devastating form and Fabio Quagliarella netted twice as Udinese ran out convincing winners against Atalanta. Roma’s hopes of Champions League football next season were left hanging by a thread after another toothless display resulted in a goalless draw against lowly Chievo, while Siena is all but safe after beating last week’s heroes Napoli, with Houssine Kharja’s superb opening goal one to look out for. Reggina boosted their hopes of an unlikely revival with a stunner from Edgar Barreto helping take all three points from fellow strugglers Bologna.
Serie A Week 34 Results
Bologna 1 – 2 Reggina
Brienza 40; Barreto 46, Moras 87
Catania 0 – 2 Milan
Inzaghi 27, Kaká 52
Fiorentina 1 – 0 Torino
Genoa 3 -1 Sampdoria
Milito 29, 73, 93; Campagnaro 45
Inter 2 – 0 Lazio
Ibrahimović 58, Muntari 71
Juventus 2 – 2 Lecce
Nedvěd 54, 66; Konan 11, Castillo 94
Palermo 5 -1 Cagliari
Migliaccio 29, Miccoli 38, Tedesco 50, Cavani 57, Succi 87; Jeda 48
Roma 0 – 0 Chievo
Siena 2 – 1 Napoli
Kharja 11, Maccarone 24; Piá 80
Udinese 3 – 0 Atalanta
Quagliarella 42, 74, Pasquale 90