Tullio M. Puglia
90 minutes of defensive play and long balls have seen Chievo and Palermo draw 1-1 at the Bentegodi.
Palermo's point doesn't do the Sicilian side much good; they move up to second bottom in the table, but are still three points adrift of safety -- a gap which could become twice as insurmountable if results go against them tomorrow. Chievo Verona, meanwhile, go provisional 11th.
The scoring was opened inside the opening ten minutes after a defensive mix-up from one of the most suffocatingly efficient defensive units in the league. An innocuous Palermo long ball was only half dealt with by Acerbi, who had left a gaping hole in the Chievo back line. The ball fell for Mauro Fórmica, who gratefully struck the ball beyond Puggioni in a smart finish.
After this lightning start, the game slowed into an uneventful long ball fest in which neither side could find a breakthrough. Chievo saw more of possession, though couldn't do anything with it. It was a cagey affair, with both teams compact, and seemingly without any cohesive attacking plan. Palermo continued to resort to long balls towards Boselli, but rarely with any success.
The closest Chievo went before the break was a deflected effort from Isaac Cofie which whistled low past the post, with Palermo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino almost entirely untroubled on his return to the Bentegodi after his January switch.
It wouldn't stay that way. Inside the opening ten minutes of the second half Chievo were awarded a penalty, after Nicolas Frey's goalbound header was blocked by the arm of Santiago García. Up stepped Théréau to convert, with Sorrentino going the wrong way.
Just past the hour the Frenchman had a great chance to score his second, after he ran on to a cross by Sergio Pellissier from the right. But, Théréau couldn't make a clean contact on the ball, which bounced behind for a goal kick.
Chievo's approach in the second half was more offensive, with coach Corini making tactical changes in a bid to take three points. Palermo, however, retained their defence-first approach, and reverted to their three-man back line shortly after Chievo's equaliser.
The rosanero substitute wing-back Nélson flashed a shot wide from distance in the closing 15 minutes, as they continued to refuse to attack in any great numbers. Unsurprisingly the rest of the match passed largely without incident, with the exception of an opportunity for Palermo with the final kick of the game, though García's cross from the left was eventually gathered by Puggioni.
Chievo (5-3-2): Christian Puggioni; Bojan Jokić, Marco Andreolli, Francesco Acerbi, Dario Dainelli, Nicolas Frey; Perparim Hetemaj (Sergio Pellissier 46), Roberto Guana, Isaac Cofie; Cyril Théréau (Nikos Spyropoulos 77), Alberto Paloschi (Luciano 67)
Palermo (4-3-2-1): Stefano Sorrentino; Santiago García, Salvatore Aronica, Ezequiel Muñoz, Michel Morganella (Nélson Marcos 8); Jasmin Kurtić, Edgar Barreto Egidio Arévalo; Mauro Fórmica (Steve Von Bergen 58), Diego Fabbrini; Mauro Boselli (Fabrizio Miccoli 80)
Goals: Fórmica 8 (P) Théréau 55 (C)