Last week we discussed how a Sergio Floccari penalty miss cost the Neroverdi the chance of a precious point in their battle for Serie A survival. On Sunday, more spot kick misery potentially put paid to any kind of positive result against title chasing Roma as the home side suffered a 2-0 loss.
Coach Eusebio di Francesco was furious at a situation that has almost certainly never occurred before in a top flight Italian football match. For those of you that may not have witnessed the crazy seven minutes from the first half, we will try to attempt to explain what happened.
Striker Nicola Sansone tangled with Mehdi Benatia and went down in the 18 yard box. Referee Nicola Rizzoli allowed play to continue but after a signal by one of his assistants, reversed his decision and gave a penalty. A melee ensued as Roma players surrounded the assistant in anger, no doubt offering their own version of events regarding the challenge.
Rizzoli, almost certainly unconvinced that his assistant was correct incredibly asked Sansone not once but twice whether he was fouled. The young forward, after being prompted by a team mate to say it was a definitely penalty, answered with incredible honesty that although he was touched he was on his way down to the ground anyway.
You couldn’t make this up if you tried!
And so the original decision of no penalty stood and play was finally restarted. This may well have been the first time in footballing history that a ref has made a judgement based on the advice of player whilst ignoring his match official.
The spot kick that never was, was as close as Sassuolo got to breaking the deadlock as their defensive performance was strewn with errors which allowed their opponent to take home all three points. Although the Neroverdi were not hugely outplayed by a side at the other end of the table, the result was not really in discussion.
Unless of course, you take into account ‘that’ decision.
The future is looking decidedly tricky now for ‘Difra’ as they sit five points adrift from safety with a tough final few games. Although they face what could be classed as winnable matches against Chievo, Genoa and Cagliari, they also have to look at securing some points when playing the likes of Juventus, Fiorentina and AC Milan.
The football calendar is somewhat unkind to the struggling side from the Mapei Stadium.
Just as difficult will be this weekend’s match against an incredible Atalanta, on a record breaking run of six straight victories. Stefano Colantuono, who himself not long ago was on the brink of being fired has masterminded an incredible set of results that has propelled his side into a potential Europa League position.
His opposite number will be evaluating the conditions of Matteo Brighi, Thomas Manfredini and Antonio Floro Flores who are all close to full fitness and could be used from the kick off. The poor rear guard display against the Giallorossi could see Paolo Cannavaro drop to the bench with Leandro Ariaudo potentially stepping up to marshall the defence.
If Floro Flores fails to recover then expect to see a young front-line of Sansone, Simone Zaza and Domenico Berardi entrusted with getting the goals against what is a rampant Oribici side.
Football matches are often decided by episodes that defy the true story of a game. Just lately it does look as though the sporting Gods are not offering Sassuolo the reward that their efforts have seemingly merited.
Hopefully on Sunday, whatever curse is possibly working against the team is broken along with Atalanta’s winning streak.
As ever, forza Sasol!