Antonio Caracciolo’s strike proved the difference, as Hellas beat Chievo to win the Verona Derby and increase their survival hopes.
This was a local derby between sides who share the Stadio Bentegodi, but for the first time in many years it was also a very tense relegation dogfight. Hellas were in penultimate place and the Flying Donkeys hovering only six points above them, a gap now cut to just three.
Romulo was suspended with Moise Kean, Alessio Cerci and Mattia Valoti injured, so Gian Filippo Felicioli was given his first Serie A start. Alessandro Gamberini missed out for the ‘visitors’ with Emanuele Giaccherini only fit for the bench.
These sides already met in the Coppa Italia in November and Verona went through after a penalty shoot-out. Earlier this season their Serie A showdown was a thriller, Chievo emerging 3-2 winners with substitute Sergio Pellissier’s strike.
Rolando Maran made history, as his 134th Serie A match on the Chievo bench equalled the record set by Gigi Del Neri.
Hellas had a bright start, Marcel Buchel stinging Stefano Sorrentino’s gloves with a scorching shot from distance, but Daniele Verde was too greedy and went for goal at the end of a long run from his own half rather than pass to a teammate.
Roberto Inglese’s attempt was deflected for a corner, from which Mohamed Fares had to stop Riccardo Meggiorini tapping in at the back post. Mattia Bani’s header then flashed just wide of the far upright.
A long ball was flicked on for Lucas Castro, who held off a challenge to go clear, but Nicolas rushed off his line and used his trailing boot to parry from point-blank range.
Giaccherini made his comeback from a muscular injury for the start of the second half, but it was Verona who broke the deadlock.
Following a corner from the left, Verde rolled low to the near post where Antonio Caracciolo swung his left boot from six yards to send it across the face of goal. It was the defender’s second goal of the season out of only two shots on target.
Chievo tried to fight back, Inglese’s volley going wide, and started to build pressure with a series of dangerous crosses in the final 10 minutes.
It was increasingly tense and the game ended with nine yellow cards – including Deian Boldor, who was carded for dissent on the Verona bench.
This was Verona’s first clean sheet since beating Milan 3-0 on December 17, conceding 19 goals in nine Serie A games.
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