Week 26 of Serie A threw up a couple of unexpected results and making the league table intriguing in the process. The round started with back-benchers Bologna surprisingly defeat Palermo with a late Paponi striker. The Sicilians ended the match with ten men after a flurry of bookings through out the match. Saturday’s other match involved defending champions Internazionale and Cagliari. Inter grabbed a vital 1-0 win thanks to a Kharja goal. However, the goal was scored in dubious circumstances as Kharja should have been adjudged to be offside.
Sunday’s lunch time kick-off saw Juventus travel to Lecce. The Juventus side were looking for their first hattrick of league wins this season after a moral boosting victory in the Dery D’Italia last week. The match turned out to be a nightmare for the Turin club as goalkeeper Gigi Buffon was sent-off early in the game, after handling the ball outside the penalty box. The Juventus defence crumbled after that as Lecce scored two goals without reply, on their way to grabbing a huge win in the context of the relegation dogfight.
The story of the weekend was undoubtedly AS Roma. Claudio Ranieri resigned as coach of AS Roma after his side managed to lose a 3-0 second half lead, and go down 4-3 to an inspired Genoa. The former Chelsea coach’s resignation comes before Roma play their second leg against Shakhtar Donetsk. There have been plenty of candidates thrown around for the job that include the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and Vincenzo Montella.
High-flying Udinese were left ruing missed chances as they were held to a 0-0 draw by relegation battler Brescia. Leaders AC Milan had no such hiccup and earned three points by scraping past Chievo. Milan took the lead midway through the first half through Robinho. Robinho did handle the ball during the build-up but referee failed to spot it; a decision that could be crucial in terms of the Scudetto. Chievo is a squad with salary bill less than Robinho’s restored parity through Gelson Fernandez. However, Milan were spared the blushes through Pato’s goal, eight minutes from the final whistle ensured that Milan left Verona with all three points.
Pato’s winners helped Milan maintain their lead
Sampdoria and Fiorentina, two teams which have finished in top 4 in recent times, no longer look like top-half material. They cancelled each other out in a drab 0-0 draw. Cesena was leading 2-1 at Parma before Rafaelle Palladino scored a late goal to snatch a 2-2 draw. This result does not particularly help either of the teams as they are desperate for three points.
Rome’s other team, Lazio, had better luck than their fiercest rivals. Lazio earned three crucial points against Bari with a narrow 1-0 victory. Napoli maintained pressure on Milan with an unconvincing 1-0 win against Catania. Edinson Cavani missed a spot kick while Catania came close to scoring several times. In the end, Zuniga’s opportunistic strike ensured all three points for the Azzuris.
AC Milan continue to capture the pole position with 55 points followed by Napoli and Inter. Lazio is 4 points ahead of Udinese and Juventus who occupy Europa League spots.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Genoa 4-3 Roma
AS Roma made a blistering start to the match when Mexes headed in a Totti corner. Roma’s talismanic captain provided another assist as Burdisso made it 2-0. Totti moved closer to his 200-goal landmark in Serie A by scoring from a Vucinic cross to make it 3-0. The game – all but over? Think again. At that point it looked all over for Italy’s oldest club but Rodrigo Palacio had other ideas. Palacio scored an easy tap-in to make it 3-1 and provide some hope for the home side.
Youngster Alberto Paloschi came off the bench and joined the party with a well taken goal to set-up a grandstand finish in the final twenty minutes. Palacio grabbed his second and his team’s equalising goal with a delicate header. On 85 minutes, Paloschi completed a brilliant comeback by finishing off a pass from Palacio.
Claudio Ranieri resigned as Roma coach following this loss.
STAR OF THE WEEK
Rodrigo Palacio (Genoa)
The former Boca Juniors striker was signed by Genoa last season as a replacement for Diego Milito. Palacio has failed to live upto the expectation during his Genoa stint but finally showed his quality against Roma this weekend. With the Grifoni down 3-0, Palacio took advantage of a weak clearance by Sergio to initiate a Genoa fight-back. He started the move which resulted in Genoa’s second goal. His second goal was a wonderful looping header over Sergio as Roma defence shockingly left him unmarked. Fittingly, he provided the finishing touches to Genoa’s amazing comeback with an assist for the last goal. Pato’s goal against Chievo also deserves special mention for the technical brilliance showed by the Brazilian striker.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
Roma’s defence must be blamed for leaving Genoa’s most dangerous player completely unmarked but Palacio still had to do a lot when he received Rafinha’s cross. Instead of trapping it he unleashed a brilliant looping header which went-in off the post.
SAVE OF THE WEEK
The Chievo ‘keeper pulled off two stunning saves to deny Ibrahimovic. In first half Ibra’s pile driver from outside the box was kept out by a spectacular two handed save. Sorrentino repeated the same act in 2nd half by keeping a free-kick from Swedish out.
FLOP OF THE WEEK
Andrea Barzagli (Juventus)
Barzagli had made a great start to his Juve career. Last week, he was probably the best Juventus defender and played a crucial role in keeping Inter at bay for 90 minutes. Sadly, he failed to live up to his form against Lecce. He was caught out of position many times and failed to provide cover to younger Sorensen. He was beaten hands down aerially during the build-up of Lecce’s second goal.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Internazionale 1 – 0 Cagliari
Bologna 1 – 0 Palermo
Napoli 1 – 0 Catania
Fiorentina 0 – 0 Sampdoria
Parma 2 – 2 Cesena
Udinese 0 – 0 Brescia
Lazio 1 – 0 Bari
Chievo 1 – 2 AC Milan
Genoa 4 – 3 AS Roma
Lecce 2 – 0 Juventus
RACE FOR THE GOLDEN BOOT
Edinson Cavani 20
Antonio Di Natale 18
Samuel Eto’o 15
Marco Di Vaio 14
Alessandro Matri 14
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 13