Siena have picked up three points in a surprisingly enjoyable encounter at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, ending their run of seven straight defeats in all competitions and giving them a slightly less impossible task in fighting against the drop.
Never likely to be one of the most gripping games of the round, this one lived up to its pre-match billing in the first half, with few clear-cut chances for either side. But, things improved in the second half, with Erjon Bogdani eventually breaking the deadlock and sealing the points.
The win leaves them six points adrift at the bottom of the table, while Sampdoria stay four points outside the relegation zone.
Despite being narrowly on top in the opening 45, Siena only mustered a single good goalscoring opportunity, and that didn't come until the second quarter of the match. Matteo Rubin drilled the ball across the six-yard box, though it somehow evaded everyone and Sampdoria escaped unscathed.
Just over ten minutes later the blucerchiati's best chance fell to man of the moment Mauro Icardi, after a loose ball fell to the Argentine striker lurking just inside the area. Mis-hitting it, Icardi screwed the ball miles off target in the second of the two clear-cut first half opportunities.
Fortunately the second half was a little more exciting -- though only after another slow start. Sampdoria had the first good chance, testing Gianluca Pegolo -- who had been admiring the Tuscan winter for much of the first half -- for the first time just past the hour. Left-back Andrea Costa pulled the ball back for Andrea Poli, though the midfielder's strong effort was well saved by the Siena goalkeeper.
Eventually, inside the final 20 minutes, with Siena quickly running out of sunlight, the minute on the cartoon clock rotating frantically and with Delio Rossi sporting a Santa-style beard and a walking stick, the opening goal came. The veteran Albanian striker Erjon Bogdani leapt to meet a fine cross from the right, nodding past Sergio Romero for 1-0.
After their efforts throughout the game few could argue it was undeserved. Their immediate task was, however, to make sure they kept hold of the lead in the final moments. Sampdoria's chance of the match fell to substitute Roberto Soriano in the final minute of normal time, though after the ball was pulled across from the right he scuffed his shot, and it trickled away for a throw-in when it should have been tearing a hole in the back of the net.
The final whistle saw a sizeable scuffle in which Siena coach Beppe Iachini was tussling with Daniele Gastaldello. Clearly offended by his cap and suit combo, the Sampdoria captain -- who played under Iachini at the Luigi Ferraris in Serie B last season -- somehow managed to refrain from thwacking the robur coach, as the hosts' joyful victory music ran around the Artemio Franchi and the rugby-style maul of tussling players moved down the tunnel.
Siena (3-4-2-1): Gianluca Pegolo; Neto, Matteo Contini, Felipe; Angelo, Rubin, Francesco Della Rocca, Simone Vergassola; Reginaldo (Francesco Bolzoni 81), Alessandro Rosina (Alessio Sestu 70); Michele Paolucci (Erjon Bogdani 64)
Goals: Bogdani 71 (Si)