Marco Di Vaio’s penalty was saved, but Robert Acquafresca gave Bologna a hard-fought victory over Novara.
This match was postponed to 17.30 UK time because the city ground to a halt this afternoon for the funeral of singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla. He died this week on the eve of his 69th birthday and was a huge Bologna supporter, often spotted in the stands alongside fellow singer Gianni Morandi. The Rossoblu wore black armbands and paid tribute to Dalla before kick-off. A jersey was draped over his seat with the message ‘Lucio: 4-3-1943’ – both his birthday and the name of one of his most famous songs. Captain Marco Di Vaio went into the stands to place flowers at that spot mere moments before the game began, as his songs played over loud-speakers. There was not a dry eye in the stadium or on the pitch.
Bologna were breaking clear of the relegation zone despite having a game in hand and were in fine form, although Simone Loria and Antonsson were sidellined. Novara were in penultimate place and already nine points adrift of safety, so the situation was becoming desperate. Carlalberto Ludi, Daniel Jensen and Francesco Marianini were out of action.
Novara had never conquered the Dall’Ara with just two points from a previous 13 visits in all competition, having scored eight goals and conceded 32.
A corner was knocked down for Matteo Rubin’s blockbuster of a shot that Samir Ujkani did well to beat away.
Garcia did not deal with a long ball into the box and when Alessandro Diamanti stole it off him, pulled the Bologna man back by the arm for a penalty. Di Vaio took the spot-kick, but tried to put it into the top corner and Ujkani performed a crucial save with his trailing hand.
Gaston Ramirez blasted wide and Jean-Francois Gillet plucked a dangerous Simone Pesce cross off the head of Andrea Caracciolo. Diamanti again threatened, this time hitting the side-netting, while Di Vaio couldn’t keep the ball in play at the near post.
After the restart Di Vaio couldn’t get enough power on his header from a Rubin cross, while Gaby Mudingayi horribly wasted the chance created for him by Diego Perez.
Andrea Raggi risked giving away a goal with a defensive error on Rigoni, but was able to get back and charge it down for a corner.
Garcia may have given away the penalty in the first half, but he was crucial in preventing Di Vaio from making the most of a Diamanti assist. Moments later, Diamanti went for goal himself, but the toe-poke was timid.
Caracciolo was sent off from the bench for dissent after his substitution.
Diamanti created the best opportunity of the second half at the 79th minute. His free kick found Raggi unmarked, but the free header was incredibly off target.
Bologna did take the lead soon after with a chaotic move. First a Perez angled drive came off the far post, then Di Vaio’s follow-up from six yards was deflected on to the same upright, but it was third time lucky for Robert Acquafresca to tap in the rebound.
Panagiotis Kone burst on the counter from a Novara corner, but Michel Morganella got back for a crucial tackle.
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Missed penalty: Di Vaio 19 (B)
Sent off (from the bench): Caracciolo 78 (N)