Matchday 14 of Serie A once again delivered with another exceptional round consisting of 29 goals spread out over ten games.
Juventus set the tone to start the round with their impressive 3-0 win in Florence as they continued to break records and push for an eighth straight Serie A crown.
In the Sunday lunchtime kick-off, an injury-ravaged Milan outfit fought from behind to defeat a gallant Parma outfit and lock a spot inside the top four.
While the side they replaced inside the top four, Lazio, were held by a resurgent Chievo outfit who continue to pick up the scraps under new manager Domenico Di Carlo.
The clear Match of the Round saw Roma and Inter play out an action-packed draw at the Olimpico. Elsewhere a late Napoli equaliser kept the flame ticking as they keep their faint Scudetto hopes alive.
Inter and Roma can’t be separated in Match of the Round at the Olimpico
A game which had everything except a winner.
The most played fixture in Serie A history produced one of the most exciting stalemates you will see this season.
Both sides came into this game fresh off Champions League defeats in midweek and were looking for an important victory to bolster their claims for European football.
Inter, who had the chance to leapfrog Napoli with a win, hit the lead through a swift counter-attacking finding Keita Balde to slam home the opener.
With the pressure rising on manager Eusebio Di Francesco after a poor start to their Serie A campaign, it was wonderkid Cengiz Under who scored one of the goals of the season to rifle Roma back into the contest.
However, the predatory instincts of Mauro Icardi ensured Inter found themselves back into the ascendancy before a final twist saw the Nerazzurri robbed of what looked to be a certain win had it not been for VAR.
The VAR coming into play once again this round by gifting a penalty to the Giallorossi for a contentious handball on Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, which was dispatched brilliantly by the powerful left-foot Aleksandar Kolarov.
With the game ending all square, both sides would feel as if they were unlucky not to come away with something more than a point with the away side in particular rueing the fact, they lost the lead twice throughout the game.
The pressure still is mounting on Di Francesco as Roma sit seventh and five points outside the top four with an important trip to Cagliari to come.
Juve do the job in Florence
Easy? Customary? Expected?
All words which come to mind when Juventus come away with another victory in Serie A. The match itself was a Bianconeri masterclass as the work of a certain, Cristiano Ronaldo was instrumental from start to finish.
CR7’s movement off the ball to drag two defenders with him helped free up space for Rodrigo Bentancur to slam home the opener. In addition, the Portuguese superstar played a role in forcing home the second and dispatching the penalty to seal all three points and by doing so reaching double digits for the season.
He also became the first player in over 60 years to score ten goals in his first 14 games in a debut Serie A season.
The performance of Mattia De Sciglio was also first class as he brilliantly nullified the impact of Fiorentina dangerman, Federico Chiesa while the aforementioned Bentancur continued going from strength to strength with another first-class performance.
The gap between first and second had for the time being suddenly increased to eleven points and the thought of an eighth straight Scudetto becomes more and more of a possibility with each passing week.
Strength in the depth for injury hit Rossoneri
A tough but deserving win at home for Milan who survived a scare from a resilient Parma outfit.
The injury ravaged Rossoneri fought back from a goal down after Roberto Inglese put the away side in the lead after the break to the shock of the home fans.
However, this lead was short lived as Patrick Cutrone superbly slammed home an equaliser six minutes later and an overruling by VAR saw Milan gifted a penalty after a handball from Gialloblu centre-half, Alessandro Bastoni inside the area.
Franck Kessie was able to slot home the resulting penalty and had it not been for wastefulness from the former and his team-mates – the score-line could have been even bigger.
The impressive display in how Gennaro Gattuso’s side have been able to grind out results with these injuries has been superb.
The likes of Ignazio Abate has slotted in commendably in an unfamiliar role as a centre-half alongside much maligned, Cristian Zapata. While on-loan Chelsea midfielder, Tiemou Bakayoko continues to turn a corner after a poor start to his tenure in the fashion capital.
Even rarely spotted midfielder, Jose Mauri made his first Serie A appearance in 469 days as he performed admirably in his first start for Milan in quite some time.
The signs are positive for Milan who have done very well to avoid falling out of the European places during this crisis and now sit inside the top four after Lazio failed to register three points.
With Gonzalo Higuain back next week against Torino and Alessio Romagnoli not far behind him – the tide has begun to turn for the red side of Milan.
Chievo frustrate European aspirant once again
Another week and another victim.
The Flying Donkey’s last week frustrated and held second placed Napoli to a point on the road with their change in fortunes continuing a week later.
This time, Lazio fell to Chievo’s turn in form as they were forced to come from behind to salvage a point at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi.
The Roman outfit were the dominant team throughout the game and couldn’t turn their dominance into goals as once again new Chievo manager, Domenico Di Carlo sent his team out to defend and frustrate their opponents.
Lazio talisman, Ciro Immobile was able to score one of his own and could have easily had a second had it not been for the woodwork – summing up a frustrating evening in Verona for Simone Inzaghi’s charges.
However, Chievo will also feel they could have won their first game of the season as their few counter-attacks caused problems for the Lazio defence.
One of these were dispatched by veteran striker, Sergio Pellissier and he could have easily had a second had it not been for a goal-line clearance.
In all, Chievo have shown incredible signs of improvement since the departure of Gian Piero Ventura and this new-found confidence could ultimately turn their season around.
While for Lazio, they found themselves out of the top four and now set to enter ‘in ritiro’ which will involve a midweek training camp to help focus their minds after a string of four games without a win in all competitions.
Napoli leave it late to save their title aspirations
It was always going to be a bogey-game for Carlo Ancelotti’s charges and they were pushed to their limits but a dogged Atalanta outfit.
It seemed to be all smooth sailing for I Partenopei as Fabian slammed home an opener inside two minutes but they were unable to push on as their opponents began to wrestle the ascendency in their favour.
A deserved equaliser from former Napoli striker, Duvan Zapata put the pressure on Napoli to get back into the contest as Gian Gasperini’s energetic outfit looked the more likely to go on and gain all three points.
However, it wasn’t to be as Napoli were able to fight back and score a late winner through substitute, Arkadiusz Milik who was able to fire from a tight angle and close the gap to eight points behind Juventus.
In all, it was a great show of resiliency from Gli Azzurri who were tested by a side in Atalanta who have showed that their performances are much greater than their 11th position on the table.
Carlo Ancelotti and co face a defining month with a huge clash at Anfield in the Champions League to come before a tough trip to Inter to come with this month imperative if they want to close the gap on the undisputed Bianconeri.