Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Steve Mitchell On March - 7 - 2011

Tales From The Heel - Week 28 Round-Up

Lecce had the pleasure of kicking off week 28 of the Serie A championship on Friday night as they entertained Roma at the Stadio Via Del Mare in a match that the Salentini considered vital to their top-flight survival. Unfortunately for the Puglians,  it was a night to forget as the home side were left fuming after a series of vital decisions went the way of the visitors who headed back to the capital with all three points. Lecce coach Luigi De Canio, vented his spleen in the after match press conference at match referee Antonio Damato and a series of penalty claims that the official chose to ignore.

That the visitors took all three points with a last minute goal from the penalty spot by David Pizarro rubbed salt into an already very sore wound. The result flattered the Giallorossi who took the lead on 32 minutes thanks to a moment of sheer quality from Montenegrin striker Mirko Vucinic. After the break, the home side rallied and got their reward 15 minutes from time, when captain Guillermo Giacomazzi, sent a looping header over the helpless Doni in the visitors goal to give the home side what looked like a priceless point towards their quest for survival before a match littered with controversy, was snatched away from De Canio’s men in the cruelest of circumstances.

The recriminations against match officials continued on Sunday afternoon at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples as high flying Napoli were held to a goalless draw by Brescia. The home side were looking to bounce back after their mauling in Milan last Monday but on the half-hour mark, coach Walter Mazzarri was sent to the stands by referee Silvio Mazzoleni in protest over a penalty claim that was not given for a foul on Christian Maggio. As the tactician left the arena, club president Aurelio De Laurentiis, always a man for the big drama, orchestrated the tifosi in a show of strength for their coach as he received a standing ovation.

The drama was still not over as in the second period, Mazzoleni again waved away protests from the Partenopei after another strong claim for a spot-kick, this time for a foul on Giuseppe Mascara. In the dying seconds of the contest, the home side were grateful to their goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis who denied Brescia striker Andrea Caracciolo on two occasions to prevent the visitors claiming the most unlikeliest of victories. The recriminations will continue as the Vesuviani head north to Parma in week 29.

Calgiari looked liked they had secured all three points at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Sunday afternoon when striker Daniele Ragatzu netted with just eight minutes remaining to put his team 2-1 ahead. The Sardinians had fallen behind to a Marco Di Vaio penalty after 29 minutes, but had turned the match on its head thanks to two second-half strikes from the outstanding Andrea Cossu and Ragatzu but coach Roberto Donadoni saw his side switch off in the dying seconds of added on time to allow the hosts a share of points as Uruguayan midfielder Gaston Ramirez, crashed home an equaliser to seriously dent the islanders progress towards a Europa League place for next season. Next up for Donadoni’s men, a visit from Serie A’s team of the season, Udinese.

After last weekend’s victory over Genoa in Sicily, Catania coach Diego Simeone thought that his team had turned the corner. However, any notions of a comfortable end to the season were crushed in Florence on Sunday afternoon as Gli Elefanti were systematically dismantled by an improving Fiorentina team. Two down before before the supporters had had time to digest lunch, thanks to a brace from Adrian Mutu, the islanders never looked likely to stage a memorable fight-back and a third goal 16 minutes after the re-start by Alberto Gilardino, quashed any faint hopes that Simeone’s men may have had although Riccardo Montolivo was clearly in an offside position as the ball was played through to him at the start of the move. Simeone was yet another coach who bemoaned the standard of refereeing in week 28 but his side has a chance to make amends for this defeat in week 29 as they entertain crisis club Sampdoria.

Bari went down by a single goal at Udinese on Sunday afternoon. A penalty from yes, you’ve guessed it, Antonio Di Natale just 14 minutes from time, stretched the Puglians run without a win to over two months. Since taking charge at the club, Bortolo Mutti has instilled some fighting spirit back into the dressing room and had it not been for a fantastic save by home goalkeeper Samir Handanovic from a strike by Gergerly Rudolph in the dying embers of the match, they may even have left Fruili with a share of the points. It is almost certainly second tier football for the Puglian side next season and it seems the club will now prepare accordingly with some of their high earners set to leave the Stadio San Nicola in the summer.

The Serse Cosmi era in charge of Palermo started on Sunday night with a 2-0 defeat in the capital against Lazio. “We started the game like idiots” was the larger than life tacticians frank assessment of the match, but he himself must take some of the blame for a calamitous opening 20 minutes that saw the game taken away from the Sicilians thanks to two strikes from Giuseppe Sculli, his first for the Biancocelesti. It looked as though having the team in boot camp for the week leading up to this contest had done little to erase the memory of last weekend’s 0-7 trouncing at home by Udinese which led to the inevitable dismissal of Delio Rossi.

Cosmi’s three at the back system for the opening 45 minutes caused chaos amongst his defenders and for a short while it seemed a repeat performance of seven days ago could well be on the cards but after the break, midfielder Giulio Migliaccio was sent to help out his beleaguered defenders playing in the libero, or sweepers role between the two center-halves. The islanders managed to stem the tide but showed little in attack despite the best efforts of their Argentinean talisman Javier Pastore. The 21-year-old midfielder looks destined to leave the peninsula in the summer with Manchester United believed to have already tabled a 40 million euro bid for the youngster. Cosmi is in no doubt about his role at the Sicilian club, he is only the caretaker and club president Maurizio Zamparini looks like having to face up to life without European competition next season, something which may hasten his own exit from the Stadio Renzo Barbera.

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