Manolo Gabbiadini’s late strike proved decisive, as Sampdoria won the Derby della Lanterna and sent Genoa plunging into real relegation trouble.
It was inevitably an ill-tempered affair with 43 fouls at a packed Marassi.
This was not only a bitter local rivalry, but also a relegation six-pointer, as both teams were in crisis, on their second coach of the season and in the drop zone.
Genoa had Goran Pandev and Kevin Agudelo suspended, Cristian Zapata, Lukas Lerager and Christian Kouame injured, with Andrea Favilli not 100 per cent fit and then lost Stefano Sturaro in the warm-up, so Toni Sanabria was a last-minute addition. Samp had to do without Jakub Jankto, Bartosz Bereszynski, Edgar Barreto, Andrea Bertolacci and Federico Bonazzoli, but Manolo Gabbiadini was surprisingly benched.
Gaston Ramirez went on a slalom through Genoa jerseys, eventually Davide Biraschi got a decisive block on Albin Ekdal inside the penalty area.
As to be expected in such a tense situation, it quickly descended into a series of crunching tackles, ugly fouls and Cristian Romero with a barely legal arm in the face of Fabio Quagliarella, but VAR did not intervene.
Sanabria had the first real Genoa chance, his diving header only grazing a Marko Pajac cross from the left and unable to turn it fully on target.
Karol Linetty got back for a crucial interception before Paolo Ghiglione could connect with the Pajac cross.
Albin Ekdal limped off just before the break with a sprained ankle. There were no shots on goal in the first half, but 21 fouls.
Jeison Murillo made a decisive and acrobatic interception to stop Sanabria meeting Ghiglione’s cross from nine yards, then after the resulting corner Samp went on the counter only for Ramirez to be booked for simulation.
Emil Audero was tested by an Ivan Radovanovic free kick that was swinging towards the near top corner on 69 minutes, while Sanabria curled another set play over the bar.
Sanabria pounced on an Alex Ferrari error only to pull it back into a space where there were no teammates to turn in.
Just as Genoa seemed to be pushing for the opener, it was Sampdoria who scored against the run of play. Biraschi’s wayward pass was intercepted in the final third by Linetty, who rolled it to substitute Gabbiadini for a left-foot snooker shot into the near bottom corner from the edge of the box. That was practically the first Sampdoria shot on target of the entire game.
Andrea Pinamonti’s acrobatic over-head kick was off target and the Blucerchiati held on under pressure to take bragging rights yet again.
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