Monday March 4 2013
Strama 1 Cassano 0

Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni had the last laugh at Catania. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the latest action from Serie A.

“Clamoroso al Cibali!” was a saying born of a famous shock home win for Catania over Inter. But the Nerazzurri produced a stunner of their own at the now Stadio Massimino on Sunday afternoon with a rousing comeback. In the process they made boss Andrea Stramaccioni the hands-down winner of his training ground spat with Antonio Cassano.

At half-time that outcome had looked more unlikely than Javier Zanetti asking for a Stephan El Shaarawy haircut. After just 20 minutes they were two goals down and it seemed like the exclusion of Fantantonio had backfired in the most disastrous of fashions. But, somehow or another, the Milanese giants carved out a win which had their tactician wagging his finger like a man who had been vindicated in spectacular style.

“It is a very important win because it came against probably the most in-form team in the League,” said Strama. “I don’t know how many people would have bet on us at half-time. But the Inter side which came out for the second half gave all it had and I think it was a deserved win. If this squad didn’t have a certain reserves of strength it would have been impossible to come back.”

It is always hard in the space of one weekend to assess the importance of a single victory, but this had the feeling of a pivotal moment in the season for both clubs. Perhaps Catania started to tremble a little bit at the thought of European football which would have been theirs for the taking with a victory. Inter, for their part, showed how deep they are prepared to dig in order to keep their Champions League hopes alive – even without a key player like Cassano.

The night before, their much-hated red-and-black cousins had shown that they, too, could manage without their own enfant terrible. Injured Mario Balotelli sat out the visit of Lazio with an injury, allowing Giampaolo Pazzini to take centre stage. He performed so well that Super Mario might get more time than he would like to contemplate the life-sized statue of himself he is apparently having built for his own home.

The Rossoneri looked in good shape but one of the pivotal moments of the match was the decision to send off Antonio Candreva after just 16 minutes. It was one of those situations in which it was hard to envy the match officials. The Lazio man brought down El Shaarawy on the edge of the penalty box with a defensive teammate closing in. Nicola Rizzoli opted to award a free-kick but red carded the ex-Juventino for denying a goalscoring opportunity. It was a decision which, understandably, enraged Vlad Petkovic.

It is impossible to say whether Milan might have won the match anyway as they had certainly looked the more enterprising side. The result continued their amazing turnaround which has put them back in the Champions League positions. Those calls for Max Allegri’s head have suddenly become harder to find than woodland truffles.

The two Milanese victories allowed them to edge closer to the top two positions after Napoli and Juventus had shared the honours in their clash on Friday night. It was a game which saw the Partenopei play with something akin to first-date nerves. They knew the importance of their opportunity to narrow the gap on the Bianconeri but ended up letting it slip. And Antonio Conte’s men are not the kind of side to give you a second chance.

It was, nonetheless, a gripping affair – and in a most literal sense for Giorgio Chiellini with Edinson Cavani’s hair. He gave the Napoli hitman’s locks the kind of tug which a TV comedian recently gave to Coach Conte’s resurgent thatch to check its authenticity. The Uruguayan responded with an elbow to the face which was lucky to only see a yellow card.

Elsewhere over the weekend, a brave gamble by Fiorentina’s Vincenzo Montella was rewarded with a narrow win over Chievo. Putting Marcelo Larrondo on for Stevan Jovetic was the kind of move which could easily have left the Little Aeroplane looking foolish. Instead, his substitute produced the match-winning goal even if, as the Viola Coach admitted, it had been scored via a header from Luca Toni in an offside position.

In Sunday’s night game it was the old and new show for Roma. Veteran Francesco Totti opened the scoring with his 225th Serie A goal which tied former Milan great Gunnar Nordahl in second spot in the all-time scoring table.  Marco Borriello equalised from the spot for Genoa, but then youngster Alessio Romagnoli put the Giallorossi back in front and old-timer Simone Perrotta clinched the win. Totti embraced his children at the final whistle and there was not a dry eye in the house.

Bologna dished up a couple of contenders for goal of the week in their 3-0 dismantling of Cagliari. Alessandro Diamanti, no stranger to such strikes, curled in one beauty with Cristian Pasquato thumping home another. Coach Stefano Pioli dedicated the win to singer and Rossoblu supporter Lucio Dalla, who passed away a year ago.

There was also an important three points for Sampdoria thanks to another precious strike from the prodigious Mauro Icardi which will surely have added a little bit more to his future transfer value. Delio Rossi, whose previous coaching adventure ended so spectacularly in Florence, appears to have got the recipe right in Genoa. His team is playing with a bit of punch – possibly afraid of what fate awaits them if they let him down.

Down in the lower reaches it looks like it is almost game over for Palermo, Siena and Pescara. They managed just one point between them at the weekend and it cost Cristiano Bergodi his job. Another week, another coaching casualty. But, by now, those hardly constitute news at all.

Have your say...
I don't think Cassano can be considered a 'key player' for Inter. He's important, one of the few recognisable star names left at the club, but hardly key.

Milito is key. Guarin is the only other player coming close. Perhaps that is the problem at Inter. There is space open for a player to write themselves into Inter history due to the lack of such player. Palacio doesn't seem to have it in him but maybe some of the new lads signed in January will.
on the 5th March, 2013 at 4:16pm
please leave cassano alone ,, everyone knows the history of cassano and we dont want the media to remind us every time he causes a problem in matches or training ,, the smart coach and president knows well how to deal with this guy , just ignore it , he knew that he made a mistake , let us give him some time to get things right and don't let the crack gets bigger ..........
on the 5th March, 2013 at 4:17am
Cassano exploded already. Usually takes him a season or two.
on the 4th March, 2013 at 5:38pm
You can credit Catania for taking their foot off the pedal as much as you can credit Inter for the comeback!!
on the 4th March, 2013 at 3:27pm
I dont care about the Article, the problem is Cassano, he is and will always be a Live-Wire if not a Ticking Bomb. What good is a player with skills but lacks character, character is what really gets a GREAT player through. He Cassano is nothing but a B.U.M
on the 4th March, 2013 at 2:47pm
I don't agree with the article completely. Inter struggled against catania They were very lucky that the game finished in their favour. Not only that, there are no winners when two ppl are fighting with one another- there are just losers.
on the 4th March, 2013 at 12:55pm
Even still he inexplicably continues to pick Yepes who was a liability again on Saturday. Zaccardo looked good when he came on. It seems Milan could have put together a title challenge this season if only they'd believed in themselves more at the start of the season.
on the 4th March, 2013 at 10:47am
Swapping Cassano for Pazzini plus cash does not seem like such a bad decision now! I hope Pazzini continues to get chances as he could show his potential. Watching Milan play at the moment it is hard to not look back at the beginning of the season at the mistakes which Allegri made. The odd absence of Mexes at the start, the delay in giving Zapata a run of games and the failure to pick a consistent formation/starting 11.
on the 4th March, 2013 at 10:45am

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