SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 31 - 8 Apr 2018 (14.00 UK)
Verona 1 - 0 Cagliari
Romulo pen 36 (V)
Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi

Romulo converted a penalty and Nicolas performed heroics to plunge Cagliari back into the thick of the relegation fight and lift Verona.

This was a massive relegation dogfight with both sides in free-fall. Hellas were surprisingly hammered 3-0 by bottom of the table Benevento in the rescheduled midweek game, leaving them in penultimate place, while the Sardinians lost 4-1 at home to Torino.

There were reports Verona Coach Fabio Pecchia would be sacked if he failed to win this afternoon. He had to do without injured Moise Kean and Thomas Heurtaux, but Ryder Matos was available again upfront. Cagliari had Luca Ceppitelli, Marco Andreolli and Joao Pedro suspended, with Daniele Dessena injured.

Cagliari have only ever conquered the Bentegodi once in Serie A, 2-0 in January 1972, which was followed by three score draws and six defeats.

It was a rough start for the Sardinians, who lost Lykogiannis to an ankle injury within 12 minutes.

Franco Zuculini tested Alessio Cragno from distance, but VAR gave Verona the lead when the cameras spotted Leonardo Pavoletti’s handling offence right on the edge of the penalty area, charging down a Marco Fossati shot. Romulo converted without much precision, but the power took the ball in despite Cragno getting a hand to it.

Cagliari thought they’d equalised with a Pavoletti header on substitute Senna Miangue’s cross, but Nicolas performed a crucial one-handed save.

Verona thought they had doubled their lead amid chaotic scenes, because a Mohamed Fares back-heel flick was charged down, so was the Cerci overhead kick until Franco Zuculini fired in the rebound. However, VAR showed Cerci was offside when Fares had his attempt, so the goal was disallowed.

Pavoletti’s header whistled wide and Fares was dangerous again with a wonderful slalom through defenders to then sting Cragno’s gloves.

Cagliari had an incredible chance to equalise in the final minutes, but Nicolas showed cat-like reflexes to claw the Paolo Farago’ finish off the line from close range.

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Verona: Nicolas; Ferrari, Vukovic, Bianchetti; Souprayen, Romulo, Zuculini (Tupta 77), Fossati, Fares; Aarons (Caracciolo 70), Cerci (Valoti 61)
Cagliari: Cragno; Pisacane, Romagna, Castan; Faragò, Ionita, Barella, Padoin (Cossu 74), Lykogiannis (Miangue 12); Sau (Ceter 59), Pavoletti
Ref: Valeri