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Luca Toni returned to a Serie A scoresheet in double quick time as Vincenzo Montella put one over his former employers and ended Catania's unbeaten start. Toni had been on the pitch barely a minute when Stevan Jovetic rolled a pass to him and the veteran predator stabbed home from six yards.
Jo-Jo had earlier given the hosts the lead right on half-time. The Montenegran marksman beat Mariano Andujar at his near post with a low shot from the edge of the area, to register his fourth goal of the season -- with four in three matches, that makes him Serie A's hottest striker at the moment.
Both Catania's Gonzalo Bergessio and Fiorentina's Roncaglia had goals correctly ruled out for offside in either half, but Toni remains the talk of the town. Fans leaving the Artemio Franchi will now be salivating at the prospect of a new potent strikeforce in Florence.
Pescara may have ended their goal drought, but will be cursing their luck after Sampdoria came off best in a five goal thriller at the Stadio Adriatico. Giovanni Stroppa's men have now lost all three of their opening games, while Sampdoria continue to soar with three wins.
Ante Vukusic will wonder what he's done to upset the Footballing gods, as the Croatian frontman struck the Samp woodwork at the beginning of each half.
The Blucerchiati suffered a blow when influential midfielder Andrea Poli limped off, but took the lead midway through the first half. Maxi Lopez was the beneficiary of a tap-in after the away side sprung the offside trap and put the ball on a plate for the Argentine.
Samp doubled their lead against the run of play. Winger Marcelo Estigarribia brought new meaning to the term smash and grab, surprising the Pescara defence and beating Mattia Perin with an angled drive.
Substitute Mervan Celik finally got Pescara off the mark with a grass cutter, but 60 seconds later, joy turned to despair when Lopez grabbed his second to restore Samp's two goal cushion.
It was down to another substitute - this time Gianluca Caprari to reduce the arrears once more. The co-owned Roma youngster blasted a peach of a shot into the top corner, which gave Tommaso Berni no chance. Alas, it was too little, too late.
Stroppa remains under the Pescara pressure cooker. A defeat next weekend at Bologna could seal his fate.
What happens when you take two counter-attacking teams and place them on a sunny pitch where the grass has grown in, green and lovely? You get a fun, open match with plenty of chances. Ok, it probably wasn't as fun for the Parma supporters, who saw their team play some decent football, only to falter at the final finish and wind up losing 3-1 to Napoli.
The match started off on a bright note for the home side. Marek Hamsik sent through a perfectly weighted pass for Goran Pandev to run on to, but Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante panicked, running out to tackle the Napoli forward. The referee quickly pointed to the spot, and Edinson Cavani converted cooly.
Alas, that was about the last thing El Matador did well this afternoon, as his finish was sorely lacking. Hamsik more than made up for it with an almost flawless performance, showing off his excellent passing and setting up Pandev for the second, a tap-in from close range.
As seems inevitable for the partenopei, they got a little sloppy at the back, and Parma took advantage. There was really nothing that could be done about Marco Parolo's first goal in the gialloblu kit, however -- he got on the end of a cross from Sotiris Ninis, his header arching up and drifting over the head of Morgan De Sanctis. They very nearly got an equaliser just after, but Daniele Galloppa's shot went just wide.
It was Napoli that had the final word, however, and it was Lorenzo Insigne with a point to prove. Back on the bench after Pandev's return to the team, the youngster came on with fifteen minutes to go, replacing Cavani. He grabbed his first Serie A goal just a minute later, which might leave Walter Mazzarri wondering which forwards he'll be sending out next week.
It was all going so well for Zdenek Zeman and his trademark brand of attacking football. Then, AS Roma took their eyes off the ball, or perhaps their feet, and went from beating Bologna 2-0 to losing 3-2 at the Stadio Olimpico. Fun, attacking football is all well and good, but if Roma can't get the wins, patience will surely wear thin.
Alessandro Florenzi gave the home side an early lead in the 6th minute. Francesco Totti, looking positively rejuvenated under Zeman, sent his shot off the post, but Florenzi was there to head it past a helpless Federico Agliardi. All good, so far.
Just ten minutes later, the woodwork was there to assist again. Erik Lamela sent his shot off the post, doubtless making Agliardi wonder what he'd done to deserve such punishment. The shot was a long-range beauty, though, and there was nothing much that the Bologna keeper or his defenders could have done to stop it.
In fact, it turned out that all Bologna needed to do was sit back and wait for Roma to self-destruct. In the 69th minute, Zeman, continuing to show just how attack minded he is, replaced Lamela with Nico Lopez -- and it all went downhill from there (although the giallorossi had looked as though their heads were elsewhere for the majority of the second half).
Alberto Gilardino struck first, escaping his marker to head the ball past Maarten Stekelenburg. Less than a minute later, Bologna found their equaliser, through a bouncing shot by Alessandro Diamanti.
It would have been bad enough for Roma had the match ended in a draw. But Gilardino struck again in extra time -- or, to be more accurate, Stekelenburg struck. He fumbled a cross from Gyorgy Garics, losing the ball and allowing Gilardino to tap in the winning goal.
Genoa may have taken a surprise lead at home to Juventus this afternoon, but even a goal by Ciro Immobile wasn't enough to get the rossoblu all three points. All good things must come to an end, and theirs came by way of a goal by Emanuele Giaccherini -- and, like death and taxes, the inevitable Juve penalty. It was scored by Mirko Vucinic this time. And to put the final nail in the coffin, substitute Kwadwo Asamoah scored to make it a 3-1 victory for the visitors.
For the first half of the match, the Old Lady demonstrated exactly what defence they would not be playing against Chelsea in their first Champions League match later in the week. It was only due to his own mistake that Immobile didn't score sooner, having been allowed a one on one with Gianluigi Buffon. Just moments later, he got a toe to the ball and pushed it by the (presumably astonished) Buffon.
In the second half, Genoa just couldn't make the most of their chances, and were punished accordingly. Andrea Bertolacci contrived to miss an absolute sitter, and Juve pounced, taking the ball right up to the other end for Giaccherini to get the equaliser.
But that wasn't enough for the defending champions of Italy. Mario Sampirisi fouled Asamoah inside the area, although of course there are arguments over whether it truly was a penalty. When your side is often embroiled in scandal and has been awarded three penalties in three matches, well....nevertheless, Vucinic converted and Juve took the lead.
It was all over six minutes later, when Asamoah, who's been on fire in his new bianconeri kit, put in the third and final goal. It wasn't spectacular, just a tap-in from a rebounded Mirko shot, but it was enough to give Juventus confidence going into their Champions League play.
It's three in three for Lazio, as Hernanes ran wild in Verona, nearly single-handedly giving his side the 3-1 victory over Chievo. The home side, not exactly known for putting the screws to their opponents, tends to close down and shut out the visitors. Such a game plan didn't work this time, however, as Hernanes scored a brace and, in between, set one up for Miroslav Klose. The biancocelesti generously allowed their hosts a consolation, conceding a penalty for Sergio Pellissier to convert near the end of the match. Lazio went home with a 3-1 victory, and stands alone at the top of the table -- until Juventus and Napoli finish their matches, at least.
This match was truly all about the Brazilian, with Hernanes scoring his first inside five minutes. And what a goal -- he evaded two hard challenges as he took the ball up from midfield, then sent his strike from distance. The shot bounced off the inside of the post, leaving Stefano Sorrentino with absolutely no answers.
The Flying Donkeys tried their best for an equaliser, but the woodwork denied Perparim Hetemaj. Instead it was Lazio that doubled their lead, with Hernanes again making Sorrentino question the point of his very existence. This time the Chievo keeper managed to push the ball away, but Klose was waiting to tap in the rebound.
Hernanes wasn't finished just yet, however. This time, he took off down the left and squeezed his shot from an angle that must have made Sorrentino wonder what he'd done to anger the gods. Chievo got one back after Miroslav Klose got a little too frisky with Gennaro Sardo inside the area. Pellissier's goal was the first the biancocelesti have conceded this season, but with three wins thus far, they can't be too upset.
While quite a few sides are having a tough start to the Serie A season, none are having quite as bad a time of it as Siena. Docked six points before the season even started, the robur have snagged just one from their first two matches, and that point came from a dull, goalless draw against Torino. In their last time out, they staged a valiant comeback in Genoa, with Simone Vergassola following up Emanuele Calaio's penalty miss. But just five minutes later, Sampdoria were back in front, and Siena came away with a 2-1 loss.
But the other side of this bianconeri battle isn't faring as well, either. Udinese, keeping with tradition, secured their Champions League position and celebrated by selling their best players. Is it any wonder they failed to make the group stage? More worrying than that for the little zebras, Francesco Guidolin's side hasn't looked as coherent as it has over the last two seasons. Yes, Udinese sell high and buy low, but they buy players to fit their system, and this season, it looks as though they may have mis-gambled.
That, or they simply haven't had time to adjust, which is the bet that most would take when it comes to Udinese. Their last match isn't much to go on, what with Zeljko Brkić being handed one of the most unfair red cards seen in recent history, but their frailties showed in their opening 2-1 defeat to Fiorentina. Considering the lack of threat posed by Siena, however, this should be a good chance for Udinese to reassert their abilities.
It's a meeting of two freshly promoted sides, but their tales are vastly different thus far this season. Sampdoria started off by marching into the San Siro, scoring a goal and then holding off a late onslaught by AC Milan to leave with a 1-0 victory. They then hosted hapless Siena, gave them a way back into the match but then quickly retook the lead through a goal by Daniele Gastaldello to win 2-1. If it weren't for their one-point deduction to start the season, Samp would be sharing the top spot with Juventus, Lazio and Napoli.
And on the other side of the coin...Pescara. They were big fish in a small pond last season, but the summer saw them lose coach Zdenek Zemen as well as their best players, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, and Marco Verratti. They've started this season with two consecutive 3-0 losses, to Inter Milan and Torino, and at this point, it's hard to determine when, if ever, that first goal will come.
Bologna have not had an easy start to their season. It began with a trip to Verona, where Chievo yawned and strolled over their visitors for a 2-0 victory. Then AC Milan, determined to avenge their own opening day loss, came to Bologna with Giampaolo Pazzini in tow. Although Alessandro Diamanti managed to cancel out Pazzini's opening penalty conversion, Bologna could do nothing to stop him completing his hat trick. Now they've got to travel to Rome, always a daunting prospect, and face a Zdenek Zeman side trained to unravel even the heartiest of opponents.
Or at least, that's what AS Roma hope. The first glimpses of the spirit of Zemen came in the second half of Roma's first match, when they came from behind twice to draw with visiting Catania. The attack continued at the San Siro the next week, when Alessandro Florenzi scored within fifteen minutes, and the giallorossi wound up beating Inter Milan 3-1. This time around, though, Roma have a couple concerns. Daniele De Rossi and Federico Balzaretti picked up injuries over the break, and Pablo Osvaldo, who already has two goals on the season, picked up a second yellow at the end of the Inter match and will sit out this one. But don't expect that this will make much difference for Bologna, who will still need to soak up pressure from wave after wave of attack.
Napoli have started their Serie A campaign with two solid wins: a 3-0 away at Palermo, and a 2-1 home victory over Fiorentina. But the solid -- although slightly uninspiring -- win over the Viola was marred by the condition of the pitch at the Stadio San Paolo. At times, it looked as though the players were treading through sand. Suggestions were made that the field was kept in such a condition to give the partenopei an advantage, but while Castel Volturno might be near the beach, I'm fairly certain the players aren't actually training next to the waves. Besides, they looked just as perturbed as the visitors.
Rumour has it that the grass has grown, so this time, all attention will be on the football. And the football should look just fine, with youngster Lorenzo Insigne making supporters forget all about that traitor Argentine that took off to Paris, and with Marek Hamsik seemingly determined to compete with Edinson Cavani for the most goals scored in an azzurri kit this season.
Parma had to start their season off against Juventus, who taunted them by flaunting their top goal scorer of last season, Sebastian Giovinco, in front of their faces, before going on to win 2-0. At home before the international break, however, the gialloblu wiped out their negative goal difference with a 2-0 win against Chievo Verona. The visitors barely threatened, however, so it's almost certain Parma will have a more difficult time of it this week.
Winger Cristian Llama also says Benvenuto to his former club, after arriving in Florence on a loan deal during transfer deadline day.
Fiorentina may have come unstuck in the Neapolitan marsh that was the San Paolo pitch in Week 2, but have since washed away the mud stains with a 4-0 friendly win over Al Nasr.
Catania have their tails up after coming from behind to beat Genoa, but haven’t won in 15 previous meetings in Florence.
Rolando Maran has no fresh injury worries and could name an unchanged side.
Alberto Aquilani will have to wait a little longer to make his first Fiorentina start. The injury prone midfielder is currently sitting out with an Achilles problem.
There may not be any "tiki-taka" (Montella reportedly isn’t a fan) but there should be plenty of goals.
Juventus visit the port city looking to retain their perfect start, but could come undone courtesy of one of their own players.
Thus far, Juventus don’t seem to be missing much. Well, apart from the signing of a marquee marksman. Sorry Nicklas.
Buoyed by a crushing 4-1 win at Udinese, stand-in Juventus Coach Massimo Carrera has asked for more from his players and welcomes Martin Caceres back from injury. Key faces could be rested with a midweek Champions League trip to Chelsea in mind.
Neither side will be happy with a repeat of last season’s corresponding fixture, which ended in a 0-0 draw.
The season started off in a crushing fashion for AC Milan. Having already lost their best players to Paris Saint-Germain, and declining to renew the contracts of their most venerable veterans, the rossoneri suffered a 1-0 defeat to newly promoted Sampdoria at the San Siro. Giampiero Pazzini, exchanged for Antonio Cassano just before the season started, gave hope to Milan last week when he scored a hat-trick over Bologna to give his side a 3-1 win.
Max Allegri must be thrilled that his side is paired with Atalanta this week, because despite the win the manager still seems unsure how best to proceed. Riccardo Montolivo is hurt? Well, we can replace him with Nigel De Jong -- they're both midfielders, so it's the same, right? Ok, so I don't know Allegri's entire thought process, but considering he's got an injury list longer than his list of available players, and a dogged conviction to the 4-3-1-2, he doesn't have much to work with. At least he can be fairly certain that De Jong will be causing injury rather than sustaining it.
As for Atalanta, they're still seeking to erase their -2 deduction from the start of the season. La Dea nearly escaped Cagliari with all three points -- despite going down to ten men with over an hour left to play -- but the home side managed an extra-time equaliser and Atalanta were left with -1 point. They also saw Andrea Consigli stretchered off in that match, but he's fit for this week, fortunately as he performed some amazing acrobatics to deny Cagliari. Now if German Denis and Maxi Moralez could just revive their steamy romance of last season (they're just not reading each others' thoughts like they used to), we could see a fun match at the San Siro.
Round 3 in Serie A opens at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, where Palermo host Cagliari -- and the question on everyone's mind is, when will the rosanero manage to score their first goal? The shame of MaurizioZamparini is mitigated only by the fact that Atalanta and Siena started the season with negative points. Otherwise, Palermo would be in 19th, shielded from the bottom by virtue of the fact that they come before Pescara in alphabetical order. The Sicilian side lost 3-0 to Napoli in their opener and followed it up with a 3-0 loss to Lazio. Right now, to play Palermo is to give your team a boost in goal difference.
But will it be so for Cagliari? The rossoblu made very little impression in their first match and were lucky to losse 2-0 at Genoa. They managed a point at home last week, although they were made to play behind closed doors. Perhaps this contributed to the fact that Cagliari needed a last-minute equaliser from Albin Ekdal to snatch a point from the match? Atalanta were down to ten men inside thirty minutes, and the rossoblu had two penalty chances, but couldn't manage to convert either one. If they can manage to steamroll over Palermo, Beppe Sannino best start packing his suitcase.
Round 3 in Italy kicks off with Palermo seeking their first point against Cagliari. The Serie A week finishes with Inter trying to find some consistency at Torino.
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