Genoa made the ideal debut under new Coach Davide Ballardini, snatching a surprise 1-0 win away to Crotone thanks to Luca Rigoni.
Ballardini was attempting to salvage the club for the third time after spells in 2010-11 and 2012-13, and he opted for a ‘lightweight’ front two of Adel Taarabt and Goran Pandev. The Squali were brimming with confidence after two straight wins over Fiorentina and Bologna, with Rolando Mandragora facing his old club.
Crotone’s last victory over Genoa was a 4-3 Serie B thriller in May 2002, followed by three draws and as many losses, home and away in all competition.
The Ballardini cure worked immediately, because Diego Laxalt’s cross from the left found Luca Rigoni to nod in at the back post, relatively undisturbed as the two defenders in front of him were caught ball-watching.
It was almost 2-0 soon after, as Taarabt dribbled to the by-line and pulled back, but Pandev got it caught under his feet from six yards.
Rigoni sprung the offside trap on a Pandev ball over the top and was only denied by a desperate Alex Cordaz tearing off his line to parry.
Cordaz also flew to deny a Taarabt curler from distance and then rushed out to parry from Aleandro Rosi at the near post on a Pandev through ball.
Stefan Simic should’ve equalised just before half-time, but scuffed his finish from a corner when only eight yards out.
Genoa had another glorious opportunity on 52 minutes, as Andrea Bertolacci’s angled drive shaved a coat of paint off the far post.
Mattia Perin got behind attempts from Federico Barberis and Rolando Mandragora, while Ante Budimir at full stretch just failed to get on the end of a Stoian cross-shot.