Hellas Verona largely dominated the game, but still had to fight back for a 2-1 win over Davide Nicola’s Genoa.
These two clubs were in the opposite positions they expected to be at the midway stage, as newly-promoted Hellas were comfortably mid-table on 22 points (with a game in hand), with Genoa in penultimate place on 14. The Grifone were also on their third coach of the season, Davide Nicola gaining a controversial win over Sassuolo on his debut after Aurelio Andreazzoli and Thiago Motta eras.
Verona had to do without Eddie Salcedo, Daniel Bessa and Alan Empereur, but Sofyan Amrabat returned from suspension and Giampaolo Pazzini was only fit for the bench. Christian Kouame, Riccardo Saponara and Lukas Lerager didn’t make the trip.
Curiously, the kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes so the lines could be redrawn, as the referee realised during his inspection that the penalty area was ‘wonky.’
Antonio Sanabria’s chest and volley was smothered, while Darko Lazovic started the run from his own half to take on Peter Ankersen, firing through his legs to force a tough one-handed save at the near post from Mattia Perin.
Domenico Criscito was booked for taking down Mattia Zaccagni and will be suspended when Genoa face Roma next week.
Perin was called into a spectacular save on the acrobatic Pessina scissor-kick volley from 12 yards, flying to palm it off the line, also denying a Rrahmani header on a corner.
However, it was Genoa who took the lead at the Bentegodi with a well-worked goal. Francesco Cassata won back possession in midfield, spread it down the left for Antonio Barreca and Sanabria got in front of Koray Gunter to fire in off the outside of the boot from seven yards.
The striker cut his eyebrow during the celebrations, it’s not entirely clear how, and needed to get patched up.
Verona continued to have the better of the game, but were gifted a deserved equaliser when Cristian Romero went in too fast and hard, bringing down Zaccagni at the by-line. It was avoidable and Verre blasted the penalty into the roof of the net.
Marco Davide Faraoni should’ve made it 2-1 moments later for the hosts, but got his header all wrong after sneaking up round the back of Barreca, while Zaccagni stung Perin’s gloves.
Hellas did get their deserved lead with a well-worked team move down the right flank, Rrahmani’s angled drive only parried by Perin and Zaccagni quicker to react on the rebound from six yards.
Verona remained in complete control and kept pushing to get more goals, but ended an excellent first half of the season in mid-table.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk