Blog Written by Alessandro Pugliese (@sandro_pugliese):
Disclaimer: I did not get to catch as much Serie A action this weekend as I normally do but followed along via Twitter.
Higuain scored the winning-goal on his debut. Bacca had a hat trick and Donnarumma saved a 95th minute penalty to save the three points for Milan. A Birsa brace propelled Chievo Verona over Inter. Napoli came back from two goals down to draw Pescara. Genoa scored three unanswered goals. Lazio prevailed in a seven-goal thriller. Serie A is NOT boring.
The new season started off with Roma hosting Udinese on Saturday. Although the first half was somewhat lethargic, Roma came out flying in the second half and ended up scoring four goals. Substitute Diego Perotti scored two penalties along with late goals from Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah got Roma a nice result ahead of their vital Champions League Qualifier against Porto on Tuesday. A good showing from the Giallorossi gives them the best goal differential after the weekend. Hopefully, they will become the third club to represent Italy in this year’s Champions League.
Fiorentina traveled to Turin to face off against Juventus. With new signings Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic on the bench, the Bianconeri looked quite good in the first half dominating the match and took the lead through a Khedira header. Juve didn’t look as sharp in the second half and eventually La Viola found an equalizer through Nikola Kalinic in the 70th minute. But only five minutes later the €90 million man, Higuain, found the back of the net to propel the Old Lady to victory. Quick shoutout for Kwadwo Asamoah who played a very good match in midfield after recovering from long-term injuries.
Sunday came and the action picked up a notch! The first match was Milan vs. Torino at San Siro as Sinsa Mihajlovic faced his former team and Vincenzo Montella made his competitive debut. A hat trick from striker Carlos Bacca had the Rossoneri up 3-1 in the 62nd minute. Daniele Baselli’s finish in the 91th minute pulled the Granata within one goal. There was some exciting late drama as Gabriel Paletta conceded a 94th minute penalty was issued a red card. Torino striker Andrea Belotti stepped up to the spot only for teenager Gianluigi Donnarumma to make a fantastic save to ensure Milan earned the three points.
Then later on, there were seven simultaneously matches. The most surprising result was Chievo Verona’s 2-0 victory over Inter. Two fantastic goals from Valter Birsa propelled the Flying Donkeys to a flying start to the season. A disappointing debut for new head coach Frank De Boer, who will need some time to adapt to the Italian league.
Newly promoted Pescara took a shocking two-goal lead over Napoli by halftime. Super sub Dries Mertens brought Napoli level, scoring two goals in the span of three minutes. There was some real controversy when Napoli was awarded a penalty but the call was reversed as a foul was spotted earlier.
On the verge on Europa League qualification, Sassuolo continued their fine form by beating Palermo 1-0 on a penalty kick goal from Domenico Berardi.
A near-post firecracker from Luis Muriel gave Sampdoria a 1-0 victory over Empoli at the Stadio Carlo Castellani. Empoli striker Massimo Maccarone received a straight red card in the 84th minute.
A late goal from Mattia Destro gave Bologna a 1-0 victory over Serie A newcomers, Crotone. Roberto Donadoni’s side controlled most of the match and deserved the three points.
New signing Marco Borriello put Cagliari ahead at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium. Hosts Genoa went on to score three unanswered goals in a thrilling comeback. Manchester City loanee Oliver Ntcham equalized in the 78th minute and only moments later Diego Laxalt scored the go-ahead goal. Luca Rigoni added a late goal as the Rossoblu kicked off the season with a well-earned win.
Lazio travelled to Bergamo to face off against Atalanta in a seven-goal thriller. Ciro Immobile scored the opener in his debut and Lazio even took a 3-0 lead. Atalanta, however, came back with a decent shout pulling the score to 3-2 in the 67th minute. Danilo Cataldi gave Lazio a two-goal cushion in the 89th minute but A.C. Milan loanee Andrea Petagna gave Atalanta a consolation goal in stoppage time.
A greatly entertaining first week of Italian Calcio is hopefully just the beginning of a long, fun-filled season.