Milan El Shaarawy

El Shaarawy is finally hitting form

Milan managed to pick up their first points at San Siro this season with a 2-0 win over Cagliari last night. The Rossoneri dominated the proceedings in the early part of the match and nineteen year old Stephan El Shaaraway put the hosts in the lead at the quarter of an hour mark from a wonderful through ball courtesy Montolivo. Massimo Ficcadenti’s side changed the tempo of their game after going a goal down but their striker’s inability to finish a move was proving to be a dampener.  Meanwhile, Milan came agonizingly close to double their lead minutes before the half time whistle but El Shaaraway’s shot hit the crossbar after it got deflected of Astori’s leg.  Pazzini had a golden opportunity to head the ricocheting ball into the net but his weak header was acrobatically cleared by Astori as Milan went into halftime with a single goal advantage.

Cagliari looked an altogether different side in the second period as they took the game to Milan, leaving the Rossoneri defense in sixes and sevens. Pisano and Nainggolan were managing to penetrate Milan’s midfield at will but Mauricio Pinilla’s atrocious hairdo seemed to have had an effect on his shooting skills as his strikes even from point blank range were landing into the orbit. Just when it looked like the home side would concede, Daniele Conti’s silliness came to Milan’s rescue as he picked up two unnecessary bookings in the space of three minutes, leaving Cagliari a man down in the 66th minute.

One man advantage proved too hot to handle for the visitors as Milan regained their dominance over the match’s proceedings. Montolivo made way for Ambrosini with fifteen minutes left on the clock and the veteran immediately had a series of good link up plays with El Shaaraway. The youngster eventually got the insurance goal for the home side in the 82nd minute as Ambrosini picked up the assist. With this result Milan managed to keep a clean sheet for the first time in the season and climbed up to the first half of the table.

Tuesday night saw Fiorentina play host to Juventus in what eventually turned out to be a nervous outing for the defending champions. Fiorentina have themselves to blame as the match ended in a stalemate despite the Viola controlling the match till the final whistle. Pizzaro was by far the best player on the pitch as he completely dominated the midfield. Bulk of Juventus’ midfield had an off day as they had no answers to the menacing runs of Jovetic and Ljajic. Ramifications of playing back to back games were imminent; Giaccherini was all over the place and lost a number of crucial balls for the visitors while Pirlo was unable to provide Juventus with any moment of magic. Fiorentina should have gone on to take the lead at the end of the first half but with only Buffon to beat, Ljajic shot the ball wide and Jovetic’s shot hit the woodwork.

The home side continued to pile on the pressure in the second period which saw the introduction of Pogba and Marchisio in place of Pirlo and Giaccherini respectively. Both the substitutes gelled in well with Asamoah for Juventus but their late introduction left them with very little time to leave an impact on the match. Viola came quite close to break the deadlock on a number of occasions in the second half as well but the Bianconeri managed to hold onto a nervy 0-0 scoreline at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, much to the relief of their fans.


Cavani – Just can’t stop scoring

It was an Edison Cavani show at the Stadio San Paolo as the Uruguayan striker picked up a hat-trick in a 3-0 whitewash of Lazio. Along with Juventus, Napoli is one of the favorites for the title this time around, and the way they mowed down a strong Lazio outfit last night reaffirms their fans’ faith in them. In what can be termed as the play of the week, Klose, who appeared to have taken the lead for the visitors, owned up to handling the ball, resulting in the goal being disallowed after the referee had missed spotting it. One hopes this gesture by the German sets a precedent for the rest of the league.

Napoli were lucky to take the lead in the 19th minute as Cavani’s shot took a wicked deflection from Michael Ciani and landed in the back of the net leaving Federico Marchetti as a mere spectator. The Uruguayan doubled the lead for Napoli just after half an hour as his shot landed in the back of the net despite a valiant effort from Marchetti. Lazio were more on the back foot in the first half but got some decent chances after the break with Klose missing a sitter ten minutes into the second half. These missed opportunities would come back to haunt Lazio very soon as Cavani scored his third from a set piece situation after Inler  had won a free kick for the home side.

Ciani’s day got from bad to worse as his foul earned Napoli a penalty fifteen minutes from time. Hat-trick hero Cavani stepped on to take the penalty but his shot flew over the cross bar. Had he scored that penalty it would have been his 100th goal in Serie A. Both the sides kept on pressing for a goal with Napoli coming close on a couple of occasions in extra time but the match ended with a scoreline of 3-0 in favour of Napoli, who are now the joint leaders in the Serie A along with Juventus after the end of the fifth week.

Inter returned back to winning ways against a struggling Chievo Verona thanks to goals from Alvaro Pereira and Cassano on either side of the half. In hindsight, Chievo must be ruing the missed chances as they dominated the play in front of their home crowd till the end. Samir Handanovic was waging a lone war for Inter as he stood solid between the goal posts, preventing the likes of Pellissier and David Di Michele to take the lead for the hosts. Eventually it was Pereira who gave the Nerazzurri the lead against the run of play at the end of the first half. The Flying Monkeys tried their best to restore parity but Cassano, who replaced an injured Sneijder, sealed the win for Inter with his strike in the 74th minute. Chievo tried to get a consolation goal but Inter’s quality helped them to cross the line not just with all three points but also with a clean sheet, just like their rivals from across the city.

Zdeněk Zeman’s A.S. Roma had to settle for a draw against a 10-man Sampdoria who have had a brilliant start to their season so far. Roma was threatening to score from their every attack while Sampdoria were relying primarily on counter attacking football. Skipper Totti scored for the Giallorossi after the half an hour mark through his shot which landed in the bottom left corner of the net. With Roma attacking, the game looked all but over for Sampdoria especially after Enzo Maresca picked up his second booking and received the marching orders for fouling Lamela at the beginning of the second half.

With one man advantage, Roma stepped on the gas pedal but surprisingly it was Sampdoria who scored through Munari, leaving pin drop silence at the Stadio Olimpico. Roma’s Stekelenburg turned out to be the guilty party with a school boyish error which resulted in the equalizer. Roma went all out looking for the winner with Totti involved in almost all the attacks along with Destro but a determined Sampdoria outfit managed to hold onto a 1-1 scoreline giving them a well-deserved point from their trip of the capital.

With his goal, Totti finds himself in the elite company of legends such as Giuseppe Meazza and Jose Altafini at the third place in the list of leading Serie A goal scorers of all time.

Genoa held Parma to a 1-1 draw in a controversy stricken match at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Lucarelli took the lead for the visitors near the half an hour mark in spite of the home side dictating terms in the match. Genoa had a chance to equalize after Galloppa handled the ball inside the penalty area but Borriello hit the post from the penalty spot to give a lease of life to the visitors.

Controversy struck two minutes from time when Lucarelli was accused of bringing down Borriello and the referee pointed to the spot for a second time in the match.  Borriello made no mistake this time around and slotted in the penalty to give a point to Genoa. Replays suggested that the second penalty should not have been given as there were doubts around the contact between Lucarelli and Borriello.

Catania came from a goal down to win by 2-1 against Atalanta. The game sprung to life in the second half when Moralez scored for the visitors in the 50th minute. Catania replied within two minutes through Spolli who headed the ball in from a Lodi’s corner. Barrientos scored the winner for the home team after the hour mark, sending the home crowd in frenzy.

Newly promoted US Pescara picked up their first win of the season against a struggling Palermo unit. Palermo had gone a man down in the 35th minute after Von Bergen was sent off for handling the ball at the edge of the box. The game was heading for a draw when out of the blue, four minutes from the final whistle, Pescara’s Slovakian striker scored a screamer of a goal lifting his side above the relegation zone.

Torino and Udinese shared points as luck deprived both sides on Wednesday night. Torino came excruciatingly close but woodwork denied them to take the lead not once but thrice in ninety minutes.  The dreaded controversy of a ghost goal came back to haunt Serie A yet again as Udinese were denied an injury time winner after Torino’s keeper Gillet cleared Mehdi Benatia’s header. Udinese players protested that Gillet’s feet appeared to have cleared the goal line while making the save but the referee behind the goal stood by his decision that the goalie had prevented the ball from crossing the line. The match ended 0-0 with both sides sharing the spoils.