Lecce fought back from 2-0 down to hold nine-man Genoa 2-2 in a chaotic relegation dogfight, as Goran Pandev scored an incredible goal from 43 yards and was sent off.
Only four points separated these sides going into the early Sunday kick-off, with Genoa stuck in the relegation zone. Gianluca Lapadula and Luca Rossettini were suspended for the hosts, who also missed Marco Mancosu, Biagio Meccariello, Luka Dumancic and Romario Benzar. The Grifone made the trip without Cristian Zapata, Lukas Lerager, Riccardo Saponara and Christian Kouame.
Lecce’s only Serie A victory against Genoa was back in 1990, along with four draws and seven defeats.
Marco Calderoni did just enough to stop Goran Pandev tapping in from six yards in the opening minutes, as Genoa pinned the hosts back in the opening stages. Lecce’s only threat was a Khouma Babacar header straight at Ionut Radu.
The deadlock was broken with a moment of magic from the Macedonia. Gabriel rushed out to clear from Andrea Pinamonti on the edge of the box, but didn’t kick it far enough, so Pandev showed great instinct to control and lob into an empty net from 39.7 metres (43 yards) out. The goalkeeper tried to scramble back, but couldn’t get there in time to prevent the extraordinary finish.
Agudelo curled over, while Andrea La Mantia drilled just wide, but Babacar was fortunate the offside flag was up, as he stumbled over the ball rather than tap in from six yards on a Shakhov assist.
Lucioni did a similar howler, but at the other end, as he hit a fresh-air clearance on the very slow Pinamonti ball across the face of goal, accidentally putting Pajac off right behind him.
Panagiotis Tachtsidis did hit a scorcher off the upright, but only after Babacar was flagged offside on the assist.
Lecce completed a nightmare first half with Lucioni’s mistimed lunge on Pandev, clipping his ankles. Domenico Criscito converted the penalty by firing into the near top corner.
Fabio Liverani’s men had lost 5-1 to SPAL in the Coppa Italia midweek and it seemed to affect their confidence, as they struggled to string two passes together and continually gave away possession.
It should’ve been 3-0 on 57 minutes, but Gabriel stuck out a foot to deny Kevin Agudelo one-on-one after the offside trap failed.
Instead, Liverani made three substitutions and they paid off, sparking Lecce back to life. Diego Farias and Filippo Falco combined to force a corner, that was taken short and Falco curled a stunning left-foot finish into the far top corner from a tight angle, remote-controlled to loop around Radu.
Genoa went down to 10 men, as Agudelo received his second entirely avoidable and foolish yellow card. The first was for an extremely high tackle in midfield, the second for kicking Cristian Dell’Orco in the Lecce penalty area during a clearance.
Lecce took full advantage, as moments later Falco whipped in a cross from the right for Andrea Tabanelli’s header, as the two substitutes combined to turn the game around.
Pandev went on a spectacular slalom into the box, but went down too easily and was booked for simulation. As Genoa were under immense pressure with a series of crosses and corners, Pandev naively went into a late tackle and received his second yellow card in just four minutes. The Macedonian was furious and insulted both the referee and fourth official on his way off.
It was a siege on nine-man Genoa, but La Mantia came sliding in and failed to make clean contact with the Andrea Rispoli ball across the six-yard box, then Ionut Radu parried a Petriccione dipping strike, with Criscito clearing the rebound.
Andrea La Mantia put several header over the bar, but Genoa clung on with nine men for a point in this chaotic encounter.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk
Sent off: Agudelo 68 (G), Pandev 77 (G)