Serie A Week 3: Milan Thrill, Ronaldo Misfires and Napoli Finally Stumble

MILAN, ITALY - AUGUST 31: Patrick Cutrone of AC Milan celebrates after scoring the winning goal during the serie A match between AC Milan and AS Roma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 31, 2018 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Going into the first international break, Serie A saved plenty of drama for the final weekend of summer. On Friday night, AC Milan beat AS Roma at the death thanks to a 95th-minute winner by Patrick Cutrone. Saturday saw Inter and Juventus have to grind out performances that saw one side pull away while the other struggled to find the net.

Serie A Week 3: Milan Thrill, Ronaldo Misfires and Napoli Finally Stumble

Milan Beat Roma at the Death

It all started with the big Friday night matchup at the San Siro. Milan were looking to bounce back after giving away a two-goal lead against Napoli the week before. Gennaro Gattuso’s only change from last weekends side saw Hakan Calhanoglu come in for Fabio Borini, returning to the bones of the side that played so well under Gattuso last season.

They really controlled the first half of the game. Franck Kessie was all over the pitch, popping up in any space he could find. Calhanoglu and Suso were providing outstanding threat on the wings and that gave Davide Calabria and Ricardo Rodriguez plenty of space to overlap. That’s how Rodriguez found Kessie for the first goal.

But what Kessie and partner Giacomo Bonaventura did best was press Roma’s midfield. They allowed Daniele de Rossi and Steven N’Zonzi to pass the ball to their centre-backs, but not beyond that. Whenever they tried to play forward, the wall formed by Milan’s midfield stopped them in their tracks. Still, though, Roma were able to get an equalizer from a corner and thought they had held on to the one point on the road.

But Milan’s constant efforts on goal were not to be denied, as Gonzalo Higuain picked up the ball at the top of the box and played a gorgeous reverse pass to onrushing Patrick Cutrone, who slotted it home. Milan got a much-needed three points to bounce back.

Around Serie A

Elsewhere on Saturday, Inter Milan started slowly against Bologna. It was Radja Nainggolan’s Serie A debut for the Nerazzurri, but they were without captain Mauro Icardi. They struggled in the first half but created plenty of chances in the second to comfortably win 3-0. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus travelled to bottom club Parma.

Juve went up early through Mario Mandzukic and you would have thought they were going to cruise from there. It was far from that as the Old Lady struggled to find the back of the net and were eventually pegged back thanks lovely finish by Gervinho. However, the draw did not last as Blaise Matuidi fired Juve into the lead and from there they held on. Ronaldo has now gone three Serie A games without scoring, holding the dubious record of most shots without a goal in any of the top five leagues so far this season.

The other games on Sunday included Fiorentina getting a 1-0 win over Udinese. Lazio beat Frosinone, Cagliari beat Atalanta and Torino beat SPAL all by a 1-0 scoreline as well. But your goals aggregate was made up by Sassuolo’s 5-3 victory over Genoa. Who said Serie A was boring and defensive!

Surprise of the Weekend

This spot has to be reserved for Sampdoria. The other club from Genoa were playing their first home match since the awful bridge tragedy. The game was against Napoli, last season’s second place finisher. They had it all to do, but boy did they do it. They dominated the club from Naples with two lovely first-half goals from striker Gregoire Defrel but neither compares to Sampdoria’s third.

Star of the Weekend

When Fabio Quagliarella saw his Polish right-back about to cross the ball, he knew he had gold in his boots. And when the ball reached him he dropped it all on the table. From about eight yards out, Quagliarella unleashed a beautiful flick with the inside of his right foot behind his left leg into the far corner. Its a goal worth watching a million times and might already be the goal of the season.

Next Week

Instead of more Serie A next week, the new UEFA Nations League takes centre stage as they debut the new method of qualifying for the European Championships. It won’t be enough to fill anyone’s footballing fix but it will be back soon so we can all take pleasure in that reassurance.

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