MAPEI STADIUM (Reggio Emilia) – Sassuolo came out on top in an entertaining six-goal thriller against Lecce on Saturday evening wherein the sides served up a flurry of goals in the second half .
The hosts took the lead twice on the night through Francesco Caputo and Domenico Berardi respectively, but Fabio Liverani’s side weren’t to be brushed aside easily and fought back both times until Boga and Mert Muldur scored two unanswered goals late on.
Ciccio Caputo had opened the scoring before five minutes were played and everyone at the Mapei – Lecce’s backline and goalkeeper included – barely saw it coming.
A simple ball over the top from Manuel Locatelli set the No.9 through and, as Gabriel approached the edge of his area, Ciccio casually lifted the ball over the ‘keeper to leave him looking for explanations from his defence.
Roberto De Zerbi’s side continued to knock the ball around nicely but Lecce’s backline had grown more solid and Gabriel’s goal was guarded.
The Giallorossi got their goal with similar simplicity to Sassuolo. Marco Calderoni delivered a ball from the left and Fabio Lucioni was left unmarked and was free to arrive in the six-yard box for an easy tap-in.
Things were relatively balanced then and it wasn’t until after the hour mark that a clear chance came, and it only did when Nehuen Paz brought Gian Marco Ferrari to ground for a Neroverdi penalty.
Domenico Berardi stepped up to bag his seventh home goal of 2019/20, which is his second most prolific season at the Mapei after only the 10 he netted in 2014/15.
VAR was called into action within seconds of the restart as Khouma Babacar was fouled right on the edge of the area. Davide Massa had initially awarded a freekick but VAR official Daniele Chiffi passed on a message and a penalty was given.
Recent arrival Marco Mancosu was calm in his execution and despite Andrea Consigli waiting until the very last second to move, the No.8 lifted his effort above the goalkeeper’s reach to score with his very first touch just seconds after coming on.
Whether it was down to fatigue or Lecce’s need for three points, the game opened up and fine margins played in Sassuolo’s favour.
After a Lecce attack came to nothing, the hosts swiftly countered and when the ball broke at the edge of the opposite area it fell to exactly the right man’s feet as Jeremie Boga arrived to pick out the bottom corner to restore his side’s advantage.
Mert Muldur added to Liverani’s woes with seven minutes left. Calmly finishing off another fine move for Sassuolo’s fourth.