Serie A Weekend: Goals, Drama and Controversy

BERGAMO, ITALY - JANUARY 27: Duvan Zapata of Atalanta BC misses a penalty kick during the Serie A match between Atalanta BC and AS Roma at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia on January 27, 2019 in Bergamo, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

It was a wild week of Serie A action with goals, drama, and controversy to be had all over the country. It started on Saturday with Capocannoniere leader Fabio Quagliarella scoring in his 13th straight game. Then, on Sunday, the four afternoon fixtures produced 22 goals. However, we have to start where things ended, at the Stadio Olimpico where Juventus met Lazio.

Serie A Weekend: Goals, Drama and Controversy

Lazio 1-2 Juventus

For 75 minutes, it looked like Lazio were the unbeaten team and Juventus were the team that’s been struggling for the last six weeks. The only way to describe the first 75 minutes was domination by Lazio; they were everywhere. Lucas Leiva was particularly outstanding, dominating the midfield and winning every tackle or loose ball.

However, Lazio were only 1-0 up, thanks to an own goal from Emre Can. Ciro Immobile missed chances, Luis Alberto missed chances and Wojciech Szczesny saved the rest. When you’ve got a team like Juventus on the ropes, you have to finish them off or they’ll make you pay.

By the time the next 15 minutes were up, Juventus had done exactly that, and it was Joao Cancelo that did it. The Portuguese right-back made his return from injury, coming on for Douglas Costa with 20 minutes to go. He was outstanding from the word go, stabbing home a rebound after a Thomas Strakosha save four minutes after his entrance.

Then, in the 87th minute, he was brought down by a stupid challenge from Lazio captain Senad Lulic. The Bosnian grabbed Cancelo as he was racing into the box, a light grab, and maybe a light penalty, but an idiotic one. Once you grab the arm of someone running into the box, it’s hard to expect them not to go down.

Who else but Cristiano Ronaldo smashed home the penalty and Juventus took all three points again.  With the win, Juve goes a full 11 points clear of Napoli and it’s a real shame. If Lazio had held on, the title race could have been back on. Now, even with a trip to the San Paolo to come, you feel Juventus are in the driver’s seat.

Milan 0-0 Napoli

Carlo Ancelotti made his return to the San Siro for the first time since leaving AC Milan more than 10 years ago as Napoli took on Milan on Saturday. The Italian legend won Serie A five times and the Champions League three times as both a player and manager for the Rossoneri. Now back in Italy with Napoli, Ancelotti was hoping to take it to his old side and he showed up with a team he thought would do that.

For the first time since September, he started all of Lorenzo Insigne, Arkadiusz Milik, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon. They’ve scored 27 of Napoli’s 39 goals this season, but they were thoroughly unimpressive at the San Siro. The four of them managed seven shots all night, most of them straight at Gianluigi Donnarumma. It was telling enough that Piotr Zielinski had five shots of his own.

Credit has to be given to Milan; they had chances of their own and kept the clean sheet. Finally free of the Gonzalo Higuain saga and with their new striker, Krzysztof Piatek, having a solid first appearance, Milan are an interesting team down the stretch. Most of their best players are back from injury and, with new signings Piatek and Lucas Paqueta, they could be a real force.

Torino 1-0 Inter

It was a tough trip to Turin for Inter Milan where they, frankly, beat themselves more than Torino beat them. The only goal in the game was a looping ball into the corner after a head-to-head challenge, but Inter never seemed to sniff a chance in this game, and it started with Luciano Spalletti’s choices. The Italian decided he was going to try and match Torino’s preferred 3-5-2 formation.

It was a spectacular failure. Inter were completely outplayed in that formation and it was so bad that Spalletti was forced to yank Miranda for Radja Nainggolan after only 55 minutes. By then, though, too much damage had been done. Inter failed to create that many opportunities or even moments to remember in the game, besides Matteo Politano getting sent off for something he said to the referee.

Goals Goals Goals

As mentioned at the top, there were 22 goals scored in the four afternoon fixtures on Sunday. It started with Fiorentina travelling to Chievo and getting into a 4-3 slugfest with Serie A’s bottom side. The game featured a red card, two penalties (one missed), and three shots that hit the crossbar. It was a wild end-to-end game that Fiorentina will be thankful they held onto.

The next kickoff was Serie A top scorers Atalanta hosting Roma for another great game. Roma were thoroughly dominant in the first half. They scored three goals and thought they would head into the half up 3-0, but they were clipped by Atalanta just before the break. That turned out to be the crack that started the earthquake.

In the second half, Atalanta went on to get two more goals and save the 3-3 draw. One of the goals was, of course, scored by Duvan Zapata. The Colombian continued his recent tear bagging his 15th goal in his last nine games and, in massive fashion, rescuing the point in the fight for Europe.

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