The 2016-2017 Serie A season kicked off at the Stadio Olimpico as Roma shrugged off a drab first half performance to beat Udinese 4-0. Luciano Spalletti, swamped with European commitment on Tuesday, opted for a full-strength side.
Wojciech Szczesny returned between the sticks while Bruno Peres was handed his debut. Substitute Diego Perotti scored a brace of penalties and in the process, became the first player to convert two spot-kicks in the same league match since Vincenzo Montella in 2002. Late goals from Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah ensured a winning start for the Giallorossi.
In Turin, Gonzalo Higuain came off the bench to poach the winner in Juventus’ 2-1 win against Fiorentina. The Old Lady had taken the lead through an exquisite header by Sami Khedira from a Giorgio Chiellini cross. Alex Sandro’s forced error however brought Fiorentina back in the game, with Nikola Kalinic powering a header past the despairing dive of Gianluigi Buffon.
In the 74th minute, 8 minutes after coming on for Mario Mandzukic, Gonzalo Higuain opened his Juventus account, pouncing to square in the ball from the tightest of angles. It was only his 3rd touch for the club. In the end, it wasn’t a dominant display from Juventus but they got the job done.
Frank de Boer’s first game as Inter Milan manager ended disappointingly as Valter Birsa’s brace inspired Chievo to a 2-0 home win.
Lazio were given quite a scare as Atalanta almost clawed back into the game. At half-time, Lazio were 3 goals to the good, Ciro Immobile among the scorers with a debut goal, but Frank Kessie’s brace in the space of 3 minutes made for a pulsating finish in Bergamo. Danilo Cataldi scored in the 88th minute for Lazio to give them a two-goal cushion before Andrea Petagna, on loan from AC Milan, smashed an angled drive into the far bottom corner.
For all the domination from Bologna, they needed a late Mattia Destro effort to see off new boys, Crotone. Cagliari looked like they were going to run out of the Marassi with all 3 points after Marco Boriello had put them in front but Genoa scored 3 goals in a crazy spell of 10 minutes to turn the tables – Olivier Ntcham, Diego Laxalt and Luca Rigoni all getting their names on the scoresheet.
Napoli started life without Gonzalo Higuain and they made hard work of it at Pescara. 2 goals down at the start of the second half, Dries Mertens came off the bench to salvage a point for the Partenopei. His brace was enough to avoid a completely bad start for Sarri’s men.
Sampdoria ran out 1-0 winners at Empoli as Luis Muriel’s goal ensured a winning return for Marco Giampaolo who coached Empoli last season. Empoli had veteran Massimo Maccarone sent off in the final stages of the game for a lunge on Edgar Barreto.
At the San Siro, Carlos Bacca grabbed a treble but that ws just the beginning of an incredible 5-goal thriller against Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Torino. He was back at Milan after being sacked in April. Milan had been unbeaten against Torino in the league since 2001 and it didn’t seem it was going to change as Bacca nodded them in front.
Torino drew level straight after the restart when former Juventus player, Cristian Molinaro whipped in a cross for Andrea Belotti to head home. Milan restored the advantage as Bacca pounced from 12 yards before coolly converting a penalty after Giacomo Bonaventura was felled in the box by Joel Obi.
Substitute Daniele Baselli scored Torino’s second of the evening in stoppage time. Then the Rossoneri took their foot off the pedal and an abysmal clearance from Luiz Adriano saw Gabriel Paletta drag down Belotti for a penalty. Up stepped Belotti but 17-year old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma rescued all three points for the home team at the death.
Article By: Sidney Diogu – @sidneydiogu