Serie A Week 25 - 18 Feb 2018 (14.00 UK)
3 - 2
Crociata 11 (C), Sandro 37 (B), Viola 65 (B), Benali 73 (C), Diabate 89 (B)
Stadio Ciro Vigorito

It was an absolute thriller at the Stadio Vigorito, as Benevento beat Crotone 3-2 with a last-gasp goal from January signing Cheick Diabate.

This was a big relegation dogfight, but also Benevento were hoping to follow in Crotone’s footsteps by making a miracle recovery in their debut top flight campaign to stay in Serie A. Luca Antei and suspended Fabio Lucioni missed out, but Le Streghe gave Tosca his first start. The Calabrese club had to do without Adrian Stoian, Mario Sampirisi and Marco Tumminello.

Benevento had a double chance in the opening 120 seconds, as first Massimo Coda’s volley was practically cleared off the line by Bruno Martella, then a Vittorio Parigini header whistled wide.

However, it was Crotone who took the lead somewhat against the run of play, as Sandro was caught in possession and Andrea Nalini rolled across the face of goal for Giovanni Crociata to tap in his maiden Serie A goal.

Le Streghe continued to pour forward, Sandro’s angled drive deflected wide and Alex Cordaz beating away a Nicolas Viola screamer, while Massimo Coda’s free kick was over the bar.

It eventually paid off, as a corner found former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Sandro’s bullet header from seven yards to equalise.

Crotone had penalty appeals when Nalini went down, but Venuti seemed to get the ball just as he was pulling the trigger.

Straight after the restart, Bruno Martella needed some magnificent defending to stop Benevento scoring, as Venuti’s free kick flashed all the way across the face of goal with only Martella stopping a tap-in by two home players.

Parigini went close as well, sliding in to meet the ball and clipping it on to the outside of the far post.

Benevento turned the game around with a stroke of luck, as Nicolas Viola’s shot from distance took a massive deflection off Marco Davide Faraoni to loop up into the near top corner, leaving Alex Cordaz stranded.

Crotone fought back, Ahmad Benali with a diving header at the back post on Faraoni’s cross for 2-2, then Marcello Trotta hit the woodwork with an angled drive.

Cheick Diabate came on for his Serie A debut, on loan from Osmanlispor, and made an immediate impact. The Malian was quickest to react as a set play ricocheted around in the box, smashing into the roof of the net from six yards.

Crotone would not give up either and Ante Budimir nodded their best chance over in stoppages.

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: Puggioni; Letizia (Sagna 46), Djimsiti, Tosca, Venuti; Viola, Sandro, Djuricic (Diabate 78); Brignola, Coda, Parigini (Iemmello 65)
: Cordaz; Faraoni, Ceccherini, Capuano, Martella; Benali, Ajeti (Barberis 57), Mandragora; Ricci (Trotta 80), Nalini, Crociata (Budimir 50)
Ref: Rocchi