Serie A round-up: Late drama in Milan derby, Juve and Napoli win

Serie A

The Derby della Madonnina headlined week 32 of Serie A where AC Milan snatched a 97th minute equaliser in a pulsating match at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Having led 2-0 at the 80th-minute mark, the Nerazzurri allowed their city rivals back into the match, replicating the 2-2 result from this season’s first Milan derby.

Meanwhile, Juventus and Napoli were comfortable victors over Pescara and Udinese respectively, ending the weekend as the only two clubs in the top half of the Serie A standings to take maximum points.

Ahead of Easter Sunday, all ten of the league’s fixtures took place on Saturday, kicked off by the Milan derby at the unusual 12:30pm time slot.

Having overtaken their city rivals just one week prior, Milan were keen to extend the gap and welcome their new Chinese owners with a derby win.

Though despite some early mistakes which almost gifted the Rossoneri an opener, Inter dominated the first half of play. In the 34th-minute Roberto Gagliardini produced a stunning long ball to play Antonio Candreva in on goal, who did well to fend off Mattia De Sciglio and chip Gianluigi Donnarumma to make it 1-0.

Just before half-time, Inter doubled their lead with Ivan Perisic making a strong run down the left flank before squaring the ball for Mauro Icardi to finish with an easy tap-in.

Having missed numerous chances to see off the game early in the second half, Stefano Pioli changed his team’s formation to encompass a five-man defence as the home side looked to defend their lead. A frantic finish ensued with Alessio Romagnoli halving the margin off a Suso delivery as Inter’s defence began to look shaky.

In the 97th-minute and with the last kick of the game, Cristian Zapata collected the scraps off a Carlos Bacca corner to break Nerazzurri hearts, grabbing an unlikely point and sparking wild celebrations on the sidelines.

After defeating Barcelona 3-0 in their midweek Champions League clash, Juventus were comfortable victors away to last-placed Pescara. A Gonzalo Higuain first-half brace was enough to see off Zdenek Zeman’s team despite resting six of the starting 11 from Tuesday’s match, including Gianluigi Buffon and Leonardo Bonucci.

At home to an Empoli outfit winless in 10 matches, Fiorentina were expected to make short work of their Tuscan neighbours. However, after numerous missed opportunities and a number of strong saves from Lukasz Skorupski, it was the away side that took a surprise lead in the 37th minute, with Omar El Kaddouri taking advantage of a poor parry from Ciprian Tatarusanu in goal.

Following two substitutions from Paulo Sousa, the Viola were back on equal terms when Cristian Tello buried a shot off the back of some smart lead-up work from Borja Valero. Empoli were not content with the point and won a penalty in the 92nd minute of play. Despite major question marks over Valero’s foul on Manuel Pucciarelli, Manuel Pasqual stepped up to secure just their second away victory in this season’s Serie A.

At the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Lazio were forced to fight back on two occasions after Genoa struck in the 10th and 78th-minute of play courtesy of Giovanni Simeone and Goran Pandev respectively.

The Biancocelesti’s first equaliser came on the cusp of half-time when Lucas Biglia saw his penalty attempt saved before burying the rebound. They would go on to deny the Rossoblu their first home win in eight matches thanks to a Luis Alberto drilled effort from outside the box, making the final score 2-2.

In the other afternoon matches, Palermo and Bologna played out a 0-0 draw in Sicily, Crotone picked up their seventh point in three games by drawing 1-1 with Torino, while Cagliari demolished Chievo Verona 4-0.

Sassuolo were able to grab their first win in seven Serie A matches by defeating an in-form Sampdoria in the day’s first evening game, with goals from Antonino Ragusa and Francesco Acerbi overturning Patrik Schick’s 28th-minute opener.

And in Saturday evening’s final match, Napoli were comfortable victors at home to Udinese. Despite not breaking through in the first-half, goals from Dries Mertens, Allan and Jose Callejon were enough to achieve their second consecutive 3-0 victory in another dominant performance.

The Neapolitans win takes them to within two points of second-placed Roma, who now sit eight behind the league leaders Juventus.

Draws for Lazio, Atalanta, Milan and Inter kept the gap between fourth and seventh place to just five points, while Empoli moved a further two away from Crotone who sit in the final relegation position.