Panagiotis Tachtsidis gave Verona a 1-0 win over Cagliari in a game that could so easily have ended 4-3.
Hellas welcomed back goalkeeper Rafael, but Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Mounir Obbadi, Francesco Benussi, Ivan Martic and Jacopo Sala missed out. The Sardinians were fresh from a shock 4-1 win over Inter at San Siro, but still without Daniele Conti and Sebastian Erikson.
Within three minutes Rafael had to show remarkable reflexes to pluck a Victor Ibarbo header off the line from five yards. Moments later the Colombian sprung the offside trap only to be denied again from point-blank range.
There was controversy when Verona had the ball in the net with Luca Toni on 26 minutes, but the offside flag was raised. Replays show both Toni and Nico Lopez were behind the ball on Gustavo Campanharo’s pass, so it was an incorrect decision.
Luca Ceppitelli should’ve scored his debut Serie A goal when allowed a free header from a corner, but nodded wide of the back post.
It was end to end stuff, as Sau’s angled drive was beaten away by Rafael and on the counter Toni drilled wide. A Nico Lopez cross-shot forced Alessio Cragno to back-pedal furiously and tip it out of the far top corner, while Andrea Cossu’s free kick was deflected just off target.
The energy remained after the restart, as Campanharo was sent through by a smart Nico Lopez disguised pass only to blast straight at Cragno. Alessandro Agostini was decisive to stop Ibarbo tapping in Danilo Avelar’s cross at the back post and from the following corner Ceppitelli nodded inches over the bar.
Emil Hallfredsson made his comeback for Verona after 10 days of compassionate leave over the death of his father.
Toni kept an improbable ball in play, forcing Ceppitelli into a goalline clearance and Bosko Jankovic’s follow-up was charged down by Luca Rossettini.
Jankovic aimed a swerving blockbuster from distance that smacked against the crossbar with Cragno completely stranded.
Cragno dived to beat away a Juanito Gomez Taleb header, but Toni nodded another effort on to the crossbar for Verona with eight minutes left on the clock.
The deadlock was eventually broken by the hosts in the final minutes, as a corner came out to the edge of the box where Panagiotis Tachtsidis hit a rocket. There was no stopping that strike and Tachtsidis scored it against his mentor Zeman.
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