Coppa Italia: Third Round / Team rating: 7 / Top scorer: Immobile (22)
A sensational season for Torino ultimately ended in heartbreak as one missed penalty kick in the dying minutes of their campaign cost them a much craved return to Europe, recalls Mark Siglioccolo.
Fifteen wins, 12 draws, 57 points. On another day, this would have been enough for Torino to cross the finish line and earn a ticket into Europe for the first time in 20 years. Yet it was not to be, as in the cruellest of twists, Alessio Cerci's dubious spot kick was saved deep into stoppage time on the final day of the season, handing sixth place to Parma. Both the Gialloblu and Milan were always likely to win their closing matches against Sassuolo and Livorno respectively, so it all came down to how Toro would fair.
The match with Fiorentina was a classic, a thoroughly entertaining and dramatic finale that truly showcased the competitive nature of Serie A. It is a great shame that the Granata were pipped to the post but they should not be disheartened by how they have performed this season, as was highlighted post match by Coach Giampiero Ventura.
“I repeat what I said to the players, which is that defeats are part of the sport. There are seasons that make you proud of what you’ve done. I am proud of the players, I hope they are proud of themselves and the fans are too.”
“Compliments to Fiorentina for honouring the game and giving a strong response to those who tried to imply they’d lie down. I also compliment Parma, as if we had gone into Europe it would’ve been fair and now Parma go through that is fair too. It could’ve gone either way.”
Retrospectively, it was the penultimate showdown with Parma which ultimately cost Torino the coveted prize, as two extra points from that match would have sealed sixth spot. Yet it seems harsh to judge their season by their shortcomings, as they performed remarkably well throughout. Although it may not feel like it right now, and they will regret dropping some vital points along the way, Torino actually finished the season with the longest unbeaten streak in the final weeks. From Weeks 31-38 they avoided defeat for eight games, which was two more than Napoli and one better than city rivals and record setting Champions Juventus.
The team kept just eight clean sheets all season with only one of those coming in that final stretch. However, that is perhaps the greatest testament to the way they play, and symbolic of Ventura's adventurous and cavalier attitude to Serie A. Undoubtedly the Granata produced some of the most entertaining, free flowing football this campaign and their almost reckless desire to win surely earned them many admirers.
If Alessio Cerci was the jewel in the crown, then Ciro Immobile was a revelation. Beating the likes of Luca Toni, Carlos Tevez and Antonio Di Natale to the Capocannoniere crown must surely now propel the youngster on to bigger and better things. Had Toro clinched sixth spot there is a good chance he would have remained, but with his star now on the rise they will struggle to keep hold of him.
Regrets? They'll have a few, but it was a tremendous effort nonetheless.
After a coaching career spanning almost 40 years, Ventura has achieved his highest ever League finish in Serie A. Allowed the luxury of time that so few of his peers receive these days, the 66-year-old has secured his future with Toro with stylish attacking football.
The classy 24-year-old stormed to the Capocannoniere crown with 22 goals in a breakout season. Whether he would have achieved this had Giuseppe Rossi remained fit is debatable, but what isn't in doubt is the fact that Immobile is now hot property, and big things will be expected of him in Brazil.
- Ciro Immobile's 22 strikes made him the sixth highest scorer in the top European Leagues this season. He was only behind Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Diego Costa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, placing him in some pretty illustrious company.
- Torino were unbeaten for the remaining eight games of the season bettering both Napoli and Juventus.
- The Granata found the net in 30 games out of 38.
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