After the euphoria of a five-match unbeaten streak, Milan finally came back to reality when they visited Roma this weekend. The pre-match talk indicated that at least Milan will put up a semblance of a fight against the Romans. However, what transpired on the pitch at the end of 90 minutes spoke of a different story altogether. With rumours of the imminent move of Robinho and Pato to Brazil, this was hardly the ideal scenario for Milan to end the year on a happy note. And quite aptly, they got thrashed left and right.
Allegri decided to field a 4-3-3 formation for the last match of the year knowing very well that a victory will leapfrog them over Roma with
only two points separating the teams. Robinho started possibly his last match for Milan and although he did not have much effect on the game, he did have a shot on target. Robinho combined well with El Shaarawy but the duo were unable to break the Roman defence even after numerous attempts. Roma scored the first goal through Burdisso from a corner. Minutes later, Yepes was booked for a horrible foul. It looked like nothing was to go Milan’s way as their woes were compounded in the 23rd minute. The Roman General, Totti conjured a wonderful cross which first found Osvaldo’s head and later the bottom of the corner of Milan’s goal. Milan tried to get right back into the match but only kept on conceding fouls at the drop of a hat. 30 minutes into the match, Lamela scored his first from a De Rossi through ball. Needless to say, Milan were out cold for the night. El Shaarawy and Boateng both tried their luck but they were blocked out by an impressive Goicoechea.
The second half started in a similar fashion with Roma trying to put the game to sleep and Milan trying helplessly to claw their way back in. Ambrosini was finally booked after his umpteenth foul in the match. Roma put themselves further ahead when they scored their 4th for the night with Lamela grabbing his second in the 61st minute. That prompted an array of substitutions with Bojan replacing Robinho and Muntari replacing Ambrosini. Boateng retreated into the midfield and played a much deeper role in the second half as Bojan and Pazzini took it upon themselves to salvage something before Christmas. Roma were reduced to 10 men when Marquinhos received his marching orders for a handball. Pazzini then won and converted a penalty in the dying moments of the match Bojan too got his name on the score-sheet with a fine left-footed attempt. The loss leaves Milan 17 points adrift of leaders Juventus.
Cagliari surprised Juventus when they took the lead at home facing off against the defending champions. For a larger portion of the match it looked like Juventus would head towards Christmas with a loss when Pinilla put Cagliari in front in the 16th minute. Juventus tried their luck all night and were finally rewarded when Matri scored the equalizer late in the second half. Just when it looked like the match was headed for a draw, Juventus took the initiative and proved once more why they are the best team in Italy. Two goals in stoppage time put Juventus firmly in the driver’s seat after Astori received his matching orders for the Sardinians.
Elsewhere, Inter took on Genoa hoping to close the gap between themselves and Juventus. However, their efforts bore little fruit as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Genoa. Genoa, the team placed second from bottom of the table displayed an amazing resilience against Inter as they frustrated the hosts for a larger portion of the match, even taking the lead through Ciro Immobile in the 77th minute. Having a lion’s share of the possession, Inter wasted numerous chances going forward with the chief culprit being none other than Palacio. Inter restored parity through a Cambiasso header and while they tried to push everyone forward in the dying minutes of the game in order to grab all three points, the match finished on level terms.
Siena hosted Napoli this weekend with the visitors rocked by the latest match-fixing scandals to have emerged from Italy. Napoli’s season almost got derailed due to the point docking and the suspension to two key players. Add to that the recent exit from the Coppa Italia, Napoli were a club on the lookout for some redemption. After four consecutive defeats in all competitions, Napoli needed to win this match badly – more so to prove that they are indeed a title-challenger and not a bunch of also-rans. One-way traffic was expected from the beginning and Napoli did just that. However, somehow, Siena seemed to survive. Napoli spared the blushes and got their act together in the dying minutes of the match when first Maggio and then Cavani put the Neopolitans ahead. Calaio received his marching orders for Siena when he needlessly elbowed Behrami.
Fiorentina visited Renzo Barbera looking to end their year on a high note. Hosts Palermo were less enthusiastic about that proposition as they looked to somehow break free of the relegation zone. The star of the show was none other than 23-year-old Jovetic, whose involvement in the match was in doubt following a thigh problem. The Palermo keeper, Ujkani was kept busy all night and had to rescue the home side on numerous occasions. However, Fiorentina were just too good on the night. Jovetic scored a second-half brace and would’ve completed his hat-trick had he taken the penalty. Fiorentina ended their year with a victory and at two places from the top of the league.
Sampdoria hosted Lazio this weekend with the visitors hoping to secure all three points so as to close the gap at the top of the Serie A table. In an evenly-contested match, Lazio did come out on top thanks to a Hernanes first-half goal. Sampdoria had many chances to bring the game back into level pegging but were thwarted by an inspired Lazio side, who scored with their only chance of the game.
In other matches played this weekend, Pescara avenged their loss last week as they defeated Catania by a 2-1 margin at home. Pescara converted 67% of their chances while Catania could only manage a mere 25% from theirs. The victory took Pescara out of the bottom three. Torino ended a five-match win-less streak as they got back to winning ways by defeating Chievo 2-0. Di Natale was strangely rested for the match against Atalanta as Guidolin looked elsewhere for goals. However, with the match tied at 1-1, Di Natale did make an appearance late into the second half. Udinese’s top scorer, however, failed to make an impact as Atalanta and Udinese shared the points.