Serie A Femminile returned to its goal-laden best on matchday 12 after the long winter break and the Supercoppa action.
There were important results at both ends of the table as Napoli try to avoid the final relegation place and four teams do battle for the second Champions League qualification spot.
The Lana Clelland show
— U.S. Sassuolo (@SassuoloUS) January 18, 2022
Despite their incredible early-season form, Sassuolo have been slightly out of sorts ever since they were beaten 2-0 by Roma at the end of October.
Despite then beating Pomigliano and Napoli, they did not have the same level of command over their opposition that they’d had earlier in the campaign. The Neroverde then lost to Juventus which likely spelt the end of the title challenge.
A draw with Inter before Christmas meant they had actually dropped beneath second place which seemed unimaginable after the first few weeks of matches.
They came into the match away at Fiorentina knowing they may be facing a stronger than expected opponent given AC Milan stars Valentina Giacinti and Veronica Boquete had joined La Viola. Daniela Sabatino’s goal after two minutes suggested Sassuolo may be in for disappointment again.
Then, Lana Clelland happened.
A low finish from the edge of the box just before halftime drew Sassuolo level against Clelland’s old side. her gesture not to celebrate in front of her old fans may have lost some sincerity when she then went on to score three times in the second half.
8?? tiri (più di tutte)
6?? tiri in porta (più di tutte)
9?? tocchi in area avversaria (più di tutte)
— FIGC Calcio Femminile (@FIGCfemminile) January 16, 2022
Her second was an extremely clever free-kick which everyone expected her to cross into the box, but instead, she went for the goalkeeper’s near post who couldn’t scramble across in time. Two more smart finishes inside the box either side of a Davina Philtjens goal meant the Scottish striker netted four times against her old team, earning her a standing ovation from her former fans as she was taken off in Florence.
A wonderfully nonchalant chip from Kamila Dubcova wrapped up a 1-6 victory for Sassuolo in Florence.
Napoli’s important point
In a division where the divide between the haves and have-nots is very clear, any point that a team like Napoli can take against an in-form side like Inter is worthy of note. The Azzurre are currently in the final relegation spot and must reel Empoli in if they are to stand any chance of surviving.
Napoli came into the match away at Inter knowing that Empoli had thrown away a lead at Roma the day before and lost 2-1. They knew a win against Inter would take them within two points of Empoli.
They didn’t get the start they wanted though when they fell behind to Ghoutia Kharchouni’s opener midway through the first half. They drew level soon after though through an excellent strike from Claudia Mauri that went in off the post.
It will forever remain a mystery as to how neither team scored again as they both hit the woodwork twice and had efforts cleared off of the line in the second half. Whilst the point doesn’t drastically change Napoli’s situation, it is a point in the right direction and a performance that they can take confidence from.
Empoli and Napoli face each other on the penultimate weekend of the season.
More wins at the top, further despair for the bottom two
Apart from the draw for Inter against Napoli, it was business as usual for the teams at the top of the table. Juventus comfortably won 5-0 away at Pomigliano whilst AC Milan put aside their off-field dramas to beat Hellas Verona 6-0.
Roma needed a 98th-minute penalty from Elena Linari to take all three points against Empoli but with that win, they remain in that much-coveted second place in the table.
Verona’s defeat leaves them at the bottom of the table for another week but Lazio wasn’t able to pull away from the Gialloblu as they were beaten 2-1 away at Sampdoria, one of the few opponents they may feel they could beat this season.
Next weekend sees what could be a big clash in the relegation battle as Empoli host Pomigliano, who are just one point ahead of them. Fiorentina will also be hoping that after an extra week of having Boquete and Giacinti in training with the squad, they can put out a better showing away at Juventus than they did against Sassuolo.
Serie A Femminile Round 12 results:
Roma 2-1 Empoli
Hellas Verona 0-6 AC Milan
Sampdoria 2-1 Lazio
Pomigliano 0-5 Juventus
Fiorentina 1-6 Sassuolo
Inter 1-1 Empoli