Sinisa Mihajlovic returned to the Stadio Dall’Ara for a dramatic last-gasp win over SPAL, as Bologna were denied by saves and two goal-line clearances before Roberto Soriano’s header.
Both sides needed a boost after the opening weekend results, as Bologna were held 1-1 by 10-man Hellas Verona and SPAL fumbled a 2-0 lead in their 3-2 defeat to Atalanta. Gary Medel was thrown in from the start for his Rossoblu debut, just hours after completing his transfer from Besiktas, as Kingsley Michael picked up an injury in training.
Above all, it was Sinisa Mihajlovic’s first appearance at the Stadio Dall’Ara since his leukaemia diagnosis. He had been given special permission to attend their opening game of the season in Verona, but left hospital following six weeks of chemotherapy and was able to oversee training as well as the matches. He waved an emotional thanks to the crowd as he appeared on the touchline.
It was a lively start from the hosts, as Mattia Destro first saw a shot deflected on to the side-netting, then had beaten the goalkeeper with a looping header only to see Francesco Vicari perform a goal-line clearance.
Etrit Berisha got down to fingertip Andrea Poli’s daisy-cutter round the post and on the resulting corner Takehiro Tomiyasu’s header whistled inches wide.
SPAL only started to make inroads after the half-hour mark, as twice there were dangerous pull-backs from the by-line with nobody able to finish it off.
Berisha used his chest to deny Riccardo Orsolini’s strike at the near post, sent clear by Poli’s slide-rule pass, while the winger also blasted a dangerous opportunity over the bar.
Roberto Soriano really should’ve put Bologna in front on 53 minutes, but his diving header went over the bar from five yards, as Felipe did enough to put him off.
Nicola Sansone then completed a give and go to beat the goalkeeper from a tight angle, but Igor managed to get back for a second SPAL goal-line clearance.
Earlier in that move, Thiago Cionek appeared to move his arm towards the ball inside the penalty area, but after a VAR on-field review, the referee opted against a spot-kick, as the arm was not raised.
SPAL almost scored moments later, ex-Bologna winger Federico Di Francesco surging past Medel for an angled drive inches wide.
On 67 minutes, the Dall’Ara crowd couldn’t believe it when Orsolini got to the by-line and pulled back for Soriano, who somehow prodded his finish on to the crossbar of an open goal from six yards.
Moments later, Orsolini’s curler was fingertipped round the far post. Berisha also made a spectacular reaction save on Soriano’s header from close range and again to keep out Orsolini.
Lukasz Skorupski had precious little to do until the 85th minute, when at full stretch to push Simone Missiroli’s glancing header round the post.
Federico Santander thought he’d done it in stoppages, rolling into an empty net after running on to a smart assist, but he was flagged offside.
Bologna kept going and did find the breakthrough, with a magnificent Orsolini cross from the right, Soriano got away from his marker and managed to nod in at the near bottom corner, albeit with a nasty clash of heads with Cionek that left them both on the ground.
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