Ciarán Murphy is here with a round-up of some of the biggest results and stories from Serie A week 14, including Roma’s clash with Juventus, transfer rumours making the rounds as well as everything else in between from Italy’s top flight.
1. Roma leave it late
On Saturday evening in the Stadio Olimpico Roma had the chance to move within a point of leaders Juventus after their draw against Fiorentina on Friday night. It was a much changed Roma side due to injuries and the visit of Manchester City during the week, with Kevin Strootman starting for the first time in nine months.
Roma started brightly but Sassulo went one up after a nightmare from De Sanctis left Simone Zaza with the easiest of tap ins. Incredibly, 2 minutes later it was two when Zaza broke the offside trap and calmly placed the ball past De Sanctis. Roma were clearly shook and just about hung on until half time.
After the break De Rossi saw red after committing a second bookable offence. Just when it looked as if the game was slipping away from Roma they showed great spirit and got themselves back into the game when Ljajic fired home a penalty coming from a questionable decision on 78 minutes.
This gave the hosts a lift and in the final moments Florenzi made a great run down the right touch line before crossing to Ljajic who leveled the game.
This result keeps Roma in the hunt and this weekend they travel to high flying Genoa hoping for a result.
2. Milan stumble again
Milan travelled to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in the hope of staking their claim for third spot. They came up against a Genoa side who are now unbeaten in two months. Milan were coming off a good result of their own having beaten Udinese 2-0 last week.
Milan had to plan without the still sidelined Mattia De Sciglio, Ignazio Abate, Alex and Sulley Muntari. Although this game did see the return of Nigel De Jong after a month out and Riccardo Montolivo made his first start since breaking his leg in May.
From the outset Genoa conceded possession to Milan and played on the counter. Other than Jeremy Menez up front, Milan lacked a cutting edge and struggled to break down a well drilled defence. When they got their chances Genoa put the pressure on Milan through set-pieces and it paid off when Luca Antoneillas’s header flew past Diego Lopez.
Milan again had most of the play in the second half but could not find a way through. Genoa are now clear in third place and were further helped by the draw between Napoli and Empoli. Milan have some catching up to do if they want to be in the Champions League next season.
3. Atalanta win a thriller
In a key relegation battle on Sunday afternoon Atalanta managed to complete a sensational comeback. Coming into the game Atalanta were sitting on eleven points and Cesena only three behind without a victory since the opening round.
Cesena stunned the Stadio Azzuri d’italia on the half hour mark when Gregoire Defrel swivled in the box and fooled two defenders before slotting home. Atalanta then missed numerous clear cut chances before Cesena doubled their lead through Defrel again. It was beginning to look like Cesena’s day.
Just before half time, Yohan Benalouane gave Atalanta a boost going into the break with a tidy volley from just outside the box. Rolando Bianchi came on at half time and made an immediate impact. He was causing problems in the Cesena defence and knocked down a header which set up Stendardo perfectly in the 50th minute.
Atalanta had only scored five goals all season but got their third in seven minutes when Maxi Moralez made the most of a defensive howler. Cesena had completely fallen apart and Atalanta should have made it four before the end.
4. Inter and Mancini still have work to do
Inter are still finding their feet under Roberto Mancini. They dominated the first half at the San Siro but could not close out the win.
Dejan Stankociv returned as assistant manager of Udinese to the San Siro for the first time and he and Andrea Stramaccioni were without Luis Muriel and Maurizio Domizzi. Mancini once again changed his starting line up with Auto Nagatomo back from injury while Jonathan and Hernanes were still sidelined.
Inter thoroughly dominated the play in the first 45 and got their rewards when Mauro Icardi beat the offside trap before finishing low and hard into the corner. After the break, Inter missed a big chance to close out the game when Dodo picked out the wrong pass on the break.
On the hour, Inter were left to rue that missed chance as Udinese equalised through a brilliant piece of skill from Bruno Fernandes as he set-up and finished his volley. As Inter pushed forward in search of winner they were un-done by a lapse in concentration at the back. Palacio miss-hit his back pass and Cyrill Therean gladly rounded Handanovic before rolling the ball into the empty net.
This result moves Udinese up to joint-seventh place with Milan and leaves the Nerazzurri languishing in 12th.
5. Transfer rumours: Paulo Dybala and Nemanja Vidic
The young argentine forward Pualo Dybala has been in brilliant form for Palermo this season. He has scored seven goals in fourteen appearances and is now reportedly on the radar of big English clubs such as Arsenal, United and Liverpool who are preparing to make a bid in January. Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has offered him a new improved deal in the hope that he can keep hold of his high-scoring striker.
Nemanja Vidic is not returning to Manchester, according to his agent. The 33-year-old only moved to Inter during the summer but has endured a torrid start to life in Serie A and has been linked with a return to his former club.
These rumours have been described as ‘nonsense’ by his agent. He went on to say,
“It’s as just stories. Vidic has a three year deal with Inter and he is not leaving Milan.”
It looks like bad new for United fans who were hopeful to see him back in their defence.
Ciarán Murphy, Pundit Arena
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