Adrian Mutu scored his 100th and 101st Serie A goals in a crushing Cesena victory over Novara’s many new boys.
Both tacticians dubbed this match “a relegation play-off,” as they were in joint penultimate place on 12 points each, already six adrift of the safety zone. Cesena had the risk of greater fatigue, having played a 2-1 Coppa Italia defeat to Napoli midweek, while they missed Dominique Malonga, Raphael Martinho and the suspended Massimo Lauro. However, they threw new signings Giuseppe Mascara and Daniel Jensen into the starting XI. Novara were without Carlalberto Ludi, Simone Pesce and Andrea Lisuzzo.
This was the first ever Serie A meeting between these sides. Previously there were two draws and a win each between Serie B and the Coppa Italia. The most recent encounter saw Novara run out 3-1 victors in the Coppa in October 2010.
Antonio Candreva drilled inches wide in the opening couple of minutes and Cesena’s aggressive start paid off.
Candreva whipped in a corner for Parolo’s stunning volley, bringing an equally impressive one-handed save out of Samir Ujkani, but the goalkeeper could do nothing on Adrian Mutu’s follow-up. It was the Romanian’s 100th Serie A goal, so extra reason for celebration.
Francesco Antonioli blocked an Andrea Caracciolo daisy-cutter, but the referee pointed to the spot for a challenge on Candreva. It was a soft penalty to give, as Candreva did very little to stay on his feet when he saw Michele Morganella in his path. Mutu stepped up and made it 101 in Serie A despite Ujkani guessing the right angle.
It was not Novara’s day, as they went 3-0 down thanks in part to a very unlucky deflection. Mutu went down the left and rolled across for Eder, but Giuseppe Gemiti’s attempted clearance instead ricocheted off teammate Leandro Rinaudo into the net.
After the restart new boys Mascara and Caracciolo combined, the Heron’s finish flashing across the face of goal.
Mutu went on a mazy run in the area before he was eventually felled by Rinaudo. This time Candreva took the penalty, but Ujkani guessed the right angle and palmed the fairly slow spot-kick off the line to keep it at 3-0. Candreva had stepped up because Mutu was smarting from that tackle and was replaced soon after.
Candreva was annoyed to see his wonderful volley ruled offside, while Taka Morimoto threatened to get Novara back into it only to narrow the angle too much. Ujkani also did very well to deny a powerful Parolo right-footed free kick.
Novara did get one back in the final minutes with a frankly comical goal. The set play ricocheted around with a goalline clearance going into the net off Morimoto’s cheek.
Missed penalty: Candreva 62 (C)