Tullio M. Puglia
Catania forgot to show up to the Derby di Sicilia on Saturday, making it easy for Palermo to claim all three points. Gian Piero Gasperini will be breathing easier tonight.
Palermo could have scored five or six, but in the end, the 3-1 rosanero victory was enough to lift them out of the relegation zone. Fabrizio Miccoli opened the scoring and Josip Ilicic had a brace, making Francesco Lodi's goal just consolation for Catania.
Francesco Lodi might have started the action at the Barbera, being first to test stand-in Palermo goalkeeper Francesco Benussi, but it was all rosanero from that point on. It took just ten minutes for the home side to establish the lead. Nicolás Spolli failed to adequately clear the ball, sending it straight to Fabrizio Miccoli instead. The Palermo captain sent in a beautiful bending shot, giving his side the lead and collecting his 100th Serie A goal.
Catania may not have won yet on the road, but normally the elefanti at least look composed and capable. Instead, their first half display made them look as though they were the side struggling against relegation. Spolli continued to look out of his depth in the back, getting turned inside out by Franco Brienza, but Mariano Andujar came to his side's rescue by palming the shot into the crossbar.
Going forward, Catania looked not only devoid of inspiration, but lacking in necessary skill. The visitors just couldn't seem to string two passes together, and resorted to slipping near the area in attempts to find a goal. In fact, their best chances came from free kicks. Sergio Almiron blasted one in the 19th minute, forcing a great save from Benussi. In the dwindling minutes of the first half, Lodi put his free kick on target, forcing Benussi to push it away. But they just couldn't find a way to create from open play.
Palermo doubled Catania's pain shortly after the restart -- that is, if Catania truly had any desire to win this match. It certainly didn't appear as though they did, not with the way they left Josep Illicic in plenty of space for the second goal. With the defense in shambles, the Slovene took advantage to slot the ball in for his first Derby goal.
The third goal was an even better example of Catania's utter helplessness at the back. Illicic created a one-man counter-attack, getting on the end of a through ball fro Brienza. As he took the ball near the area, only Lodi -- a midfielder -- put forth any effort into slowing his approach. With the rest of the defense invisible, Ilicic had no problem scoring Palermo's third.
Catania found a bit of consolation in the 70th minute, though -- and from where else but a free kick? Jasmin Kurtic brought down Spolli, in what was perhaps the defender's most significant contribution all match. Lodi stepped up to take and curled the ball into the top right-hand corner.
Palermo did their best to make an even greater impression, but Spolli, who finally remembered that he's paid to defend, managed to clear Michel Morganella's shot from just off the line. Substitute Paulo Dybala tee'd one up for Ilicic to grab a third, but he sent it skyward instead. Still, a 3-1 derby win from a team that has spent the last few months battling relegation? Impressive.