Palermo wasted a glorious opportunity to climb out of the relegation zone, as Stefano Sorrentino’s howler gifted Bologna a 1-1 draw.
The Rosanero seemed doomed to relegation only a couple of weeks ago, but had won two on the trot against Roma and Sampdoria to revive their hopes under Coach Giuseppe Sannino. The enthusiasm seeped through into the city, where 30,000 turned up to the Stadio Barbera. Andrea Dossena and Andrea Mantovani missed out, though Fabrizio Miccoli and Stefano Sorrentino shook off knocks. Bologna had to do without Alessandro Diamanti, Diego Perez, Cesare Natali and Nico Pulzetti.
It took just under five minutes for Palermo to break through, as Josip Ilicic had a give-and-go with Miccoli to then curl a splendid first-time shot into the far bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Miccoli and Ilicic went on the counter, but this time Gianluca Curci smothered the finish, then Miccoli had his daisy-cutter blocked.
Bologna equalised with their first shot on target, but it was an absolute howler from Sorrentino. The goalkeeper went to pick up a Michel Morganella backpass, remembered at the last second he couldn’t touch it with his hands and let the ball roll under his body. This allowed Manolo Gabbiadini to deposit into an empty net. Sorrentino waved an apology to the crowd.
Panagiotis Kone was booked for a thoroughly unconvincing dive, as was Ilicic moments later, but the mood of the game had changed considerably with Palermo shaken by that error. Panagiotis Kone went off after failing to shake off an earlier elbow injury.
Miccoli went so close to restoring the Rosanero’s lead before the break, as his first touch on a long ball was wonderful and he tried to squeeze his shot between the goalkeeper and the near post, thumping the upright, then Ilicic couldn’t finish it off under pressure from Archimede Morleo.
Gabbiadini had a couple of snapshots either side of half-time, one smothered and the other flashing across the face of goal. More bad news for Palermo, as Ilicic pulled up with a thigh problem and had to make way for Paulo Dybala.
Miccoli went on one of his mazy runs, cutting in from the left to drill wide, then Cristian Pasquato’s splendid curler whistled inches past the far top corner.
Alberto Gilardino had penalty appeals, but the referee believed Salvatore Aronica did enough to keep the challenge clean with a last-ditch kick across the front of the striker. Aronica was again decisive to keep the pressure on Gilardino as they came sliding in to meet a cross in the six-yard box.
Abel Hernandez made his return to the field six months after surgery on a knee ligament injury he sustained on international duty.
Jasmin Kurtic went down in the box at the 84th minute and was furious he did not receive a penalty. There was certainly contact with Saphir Taider, but it’s not clear whether it was a foul or if Kurtic ran across his path.
Palermo started to pour forward in the final stages, but Curci beat away a powerful Edgar Barreto snapshot from distance. A Kurtic free kick took a flick off Tiberio Guarente’s head and scraped a coat of paint off the far post.
More penalty appeals from Palermo in stoppages after two different tussles in the box, but again the referee waved play on and booked Massimo Donati for his protests.
The last kick of the game was a set piece just outside the box, but free kick specialist Miccoli had already been substituted due to fatigue. Dybala stepped up and his shot was deflected wide.