Serie B 2012-13 Review: Week 18
Saturday 8th December
Sunday 9th December
Cesena 1 – 3 Empoli
Cittadella 0 – 1 Varese
The first snows of the season may have arrived, but Sassuolo’s charge towards the title showed no signs of cooling as they emerged victorious in Friday evening’s Emilia-Romagna derby with Modena.
Just 20km separate the small township of Sassuolo from their more illustrious neighbours, and though Friday’s fixture was nominally the Neroverdi’s home game, the tiny capacity of their own Stadio Enzo Ricci has seen them take up a residency at Modena’s Stadio Alberto Braglia since promotion to the second flight was achieved in 2008.
At this rate, it is looking increasingly likely that the leading lights of Serie A may be paying a visit to the Alberto Braglia next season. Another incredibly accomplished performance saw Sassuolo take the lead after half an hour when, following a neat passing move with Andrea Catellani, Juventus loanee Richmond Boakye sidestepped Chinoye Wilfred Osuji before steering an excellent finish beyond the reach of Modena keeper Simone Colombi.
Sassuolo’s dominance continued into the second half, and the lead was duly doubled shortly before the hour mark when Catellani raced onto Tommaso Bianchi’s perfectly weighted through ball before dispatching a clinical finish from the edge of the area.
In worsening conditions, Leonardo Pavoletti almost extended the Neroverdi’s lead, while keeper Alberto Pomini denied Modena’s Giuseppe Greco a late consolation, leaving Sassuolo to celebrate one of their most satisfying victories of the campaign so far.
Elsewhere, closest challengers Livorno were surprisingly held to a draw by lowly Vicenza, though even a point looked unlikely at one stage as the Amaranto trailed 3-1 with half an hour remaining. A sixth straight win looked to be on the cards when Luca Belingheri steered Livorno ahead after 15 minutes, but a fine brace from Luca Castiglia and an excellent run and finish from Luca Di Matteo gave the home side a commanding lead. A stunning long range volley gave Belingheri his second of the match just after the hour mark, and after Luca Siligardi had curled an effort onto the crossbar, Paulinho turned in from an acute angle to complete the comeback with 15 minutes remaining.
Meanwhile, Verona returned to winning ways after a recent slump in form with a comprehensive victory over Ascoli. The game was a mere 24 seconds old when Emil Hallfredsson rifled in the Gialloblu’s opener from long range, and the result never looked beyond doubt when Juan Ignazio Gomez headed in a second just seven minutes later. Torrid defending from Ascoli saw Michelangelo Albertazzi stroke home his side’s third shortly after the restart, and though Simone Zaza pulled one back with a deflected effort 20 minutes from time, it proved to be little more than a consolation.
Varese moved back into fourth place with a narrow win over Cittadella, Angelo Rea grabbing the only goal of the game midway through the second half. It was a disappointing weekend for Brescia though who, having taken an early two goal lead through Daniele Corvia’s brace, were held to a 2-2 draw by Reggina, with Gianmario Comi pulling one back in first half injury time and Antonio Barilla slamming in the equaliser with eight minutes left.
Padova slipped to sixth place after a comprehensive defeat to a Novara side celebrating a first win in ten league games. Pablo Andres Gonzalez fired Novara ahead after 23 minutes, while a wonder strike from Matthias Lepiller doubled the advantage ten minutes later. Ze Eduardo reduced the arrears with a close range effort two minutes later, only for Gonzalez to curl in what proved to be the game’s final goal on the stroke of half time. Heavy snowfall saw the clash between Cesena and Empoli postponed for 24 hours, with the Tuscan side eventually running out as 3-1 winners. Goals from Daniele Croce, Mirko Valdifiori and Francesco Tavano put Empoli three goals to the good inside the opening 13 minutes, with Alex Rodriguez grabbing Cesena’s consolation three minutes into the second half.
Newly promoted sides Spezia and Ternana both enjoyed 3-2 wins this weekend, emerging triumphant against Bari and Juve Stabia respectively. Davide Di Gennaro headed Spezia in front shortly before half time, with Marco Sansovini doubling the lead ten minutes after the restart. Luca Ceppitelli pulled one back almost instantly, before Sansovini’s second of the game restored Spezia’s two goal lead. Francesco Caputo struck ten minutes from time to ensure a frantic finish, but Spezia held on. In Ternana, goals from Luis Maria Alfageme and Luigi Vitale had given the hosts a commanding lead, but it was wiped out by two quick fire efforts from Fabio Caserta and Gennaro Scognamiglio. Antonio Ragusa had the final say however, steering in an 82nd minute winner from six yards out.
Elsewhere, bottom side Grosseto claimed a crucial 3-0 win over relegation rivals Pro Vercelli, with Arturo Lupoli, an own goal from Alex Valentini and Ferdinando Sforzini completing the scoring inside the opening half hour. Finally, it finished goalless in the clash between Crotone and Virtus Lanciano.
Player of the Week: Pablo Andres Gonzalez (Novara)
Despite what has so far been a torrid first season back in the second flight for Novara, the performances of club captain Pablo Andres Gonzalez have proven to be a rare highlight for the club’s beleaguered support. Saturday saw the side claim a first victory in ten league matches, and though two goals of exceptional quality from Gonzalez proved instrumental, his overall performance was entirely befitting that of a captain. More of the same will surely see Novara soon climbing the table.
Goal of the Week: Matthias Lepiller (Novara)
Gonzalez may have been the key to Novara’s victory at the weekend, but it was another summer signing – French midfielder Matthias Lepiller – who grabbed the goal of the weekend in Serie B. With ten minutes to go until half time, Gonzalez squared the ball into the path of Lepiller, who duly curled a wonderful first time effort into the top corner from 25-yards-out. Such quality in the side only serves to make Novara’s league placing even more of a mystery.
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