Serie B 2012/13 Review: Week 25
Saturday 9th February
Bari 0 – 1 Varese
Crotone 1 – 0 Grosseto
Juve Stabia 2 – 4 Novara
Modena 1 – 1 Reggina
Padova 0 – 0 Brescia
Pro Vercelli 1 – 3 Sassuolo
Spezia 4 – 3 Ascoli
Verona 0 – 1 Vicenza
Virtus Lanciano 3 – 2 Cittadella
Monday 10th February
Empoli – Livorno
On a weekend of high drama in Italy’s second tier, league leaders Sassuolo extended their lead at the top to four points with a controversial win over Pro Vercelli, while third place Verona were stunned at home by relegation threatened Vicenza.
Sassuolo were stunned in the opening minute when atrocious defending allowed Andrea Cristiano to slide the ball into the bottom corner and put Pro Vercelli a goal to the good. That was as good as it would get for the home side however, with the game turning then minutes later when Andrea Catellani was hacked down in the area. Although Emanuele Terranova’s weak spot kick was saved by Alex Valentini, the Sassuolo forward was then scythed down when chasing for the rebound, giving him another opportunity from 12 yards that this time found the back of the net. With the offending Pro Vercelli defender Martino Borghese dismissed, Sassuolo edged ahead on the stroke of half time when Gennaro Troianiello met Simone Missiroli’s looping forward ball to head home. With Pro Vercelli reduced to nine men after Matteo Abbate was dismissed during the break, the only surprise was that it took the Neroverdi until the 90th minute to register a third goal of the afternoon, with Domenico Berardi sliding the ball into an empty net.
With second place Livorno not in action until a Monday evening derby with Empoli, Verona were fully expected to close the gap on the top two to just a single point. Opponents Vicenza however had other ideas. Despite dominating the opening half, Verona’s usually reliable front line of Daniele Cacia and Alessandro Sgrigna failed to pose Vicenza keeper Nicolas Bremec any real problems. That almost changed in the second period when Jorginho forced a fine stop from the Uruguayan stopper, but the Gialloblu were made to pay for their profligacy when, with just 15 minutes remaining, Franco Semioli slammed home the only goal of the game to the astonishment of the Stadio Bentegodi faithful.
Just as damaging to Verona’s long term hopes of promotion was Varese’s narrow victory away at Bari, a result that closes the gap on the Gialloblu to just five points. Raffaele Pucino grabbed what proved to be the winner after just 12 minutes with a stunning long range volley into the top corner. The hosts posed more of a threat after Varese were reduced to ten men with the second half dismissal of Loris Damonte, and came closest to an equaliser in injury time when a Luca Ceppitelli header rebounded of the post. However Varese held on for a third win in four, and with a trip to Verona to look forward to in two weeks’ time.
Elsewhere, it finished goalless in the clash between division draw specialists Padova and Brescia in what was arguably the least surprising result of the afternoon, though a superb performance from Brescia keeper Michele Arcari meant the visitors were probably the happier of the two with the outcome. Meanwhile Juve Stabia’s play-off aspirations were hampered by a 4-2 home defeat to Novara. Matthias Lepiller headed Novara in front five minutes before half time, before Pablo Andres Gonzalez made it two from the spot five minutes after the restart. Fabio Caserta reduced the arrears with a fine effort in the 57th minute, before a Giuseppe Figliomeni own goal and a smart finish from Haris Seferovic made sure of the points, with Salvatore Bruno adding a touch of respectability to the score line late on.
Modena picked up a first point in four matches, but will be disappointed not to have taken all three after Federico Gerardi’s 92nd minute tap in cancelled out Matteo Ardemagni’s first half header and saw Reggina escape with a draw. Spezia meanwhile recovered from three goals down to record a thrilling 4-3 victory over Ascoli, giving their ailing play-off hopes a much needed boost. Goals from Simone Zaza, Robert Feczesin and Marco Ezio Fossati looked to have wrapped it up for the visitors as early as the 50th minute, but a smart turn and finish from Mirco Antenucci gave the hosts hope before a stunning 15 minute hat-trick from substitute Marco Sansovini turned the game on its head, with the winner arriving in the 91st minute.
As if to prove just how compact the division is, Cesena are now just four points adrift of the play-off places after Davide Succi’s 89th minute free kick against Ternana fired his side to a third straight victory. Such a turn around looks to be beyond bottom side Grosseto though, who fell to their 12th defeat of a turgid season at the hands of Crotone, thanks to Mirko Eramo’s first half header. Virtus Lanciano meanwhile continue to keep their heads above water thanks to another impressive win, this time against Cittadella. Gaetano Vastola put the hosts ahead from close range early on, only for Mattia Minesso to draw Cittadella level two minutes later. Alessandro Volpe restored Virtus Lanciano’s lead soon after with a composed finish, and Antonio Piccolo extended the lead five minutes before the break. An Alberto Almici own goal gave Cittadella hope early in the second half, but the hosts held on for a valuable win.
Player of the Week: Pablo Andres Gonzalez (Novara)
The beating heart of a Novara side that still has plenty of work to do if they are to avoid demotion to Lega Pro at the end of the season; Pablo Andres Gonzalez was again outstanding in his side’s surprising 4-2 victory over Novara. The Argentine placed a pin point accurate cross onto the head of Matthias Lepiller for the Biancoazzurri’s opener, before doubling the lead with a terrific penalty. He then put in the cross that saw Giuseppe Figliomeni turn into his net and effectively kill the game as a contest, before striking the crossbar with a late, long range free kick that would have been a goal of the season contender had it sailed an inch lower.
Goal of the Week: Marco Sansovini (Spezia)
When Marco Sansovini entered the field as a second half substitute against Ascoli, he did so with his side trailing by two and with a mountain to climb. Half an hour later, he left the field clutching the match ball having struck a 15 minute hat-trick that turned an astonishing game on its head. A 91st minute winner was the pick of the bunch, with Sansovini cutting in from the right before curling in a left footed drive from 20 yards out that arced beyond the reach of Ascoli keeper Enrico Guarna before nestling into the bottom corner. It was the 32-year-old’s 17th goal of a stunning campaign, and undoubtedly his most significant so far for the club.
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