Serie A Match of the Round – Frosinone vs Empoli


The Derby della Madonnina was balanced, hard-fought and intense, but, albeit in dramatic fashion, it was decided by a single goal in the stoppage time. So the weekly shout-out goes to high-scoring affair between Frosinone and Empoli, which had a lot at stake for an early season game and was brilliantly played by both sides.

The Ciociari have yet to win this season and garnered only a point so far, against Bologna at home. The Azzurri prevailed just in the season opener and suffered five losses after that, managing to tie twice. With Emil Hallfredsson sidelined, Moreno Longo confirmed the 3-4-3 scheme he has been using lately, with a front-line formed by his three best players, Camillo Ciano, Daniel Ciofani and Joel Campbell. Lorenzo Ariaudo was picked over Bartosz Salamon to lead the defense, which featured the returning Marco Capuano. Aurelio Andreazzoli deployed his usual diamond formation, trusting Antonino La Gumina up front and recovering both Luca Antonelli and Manuel Pasqual at left back. Ivan Provedel made his first start after being relegated to the bench while he was working his way back from a tibia fracture.

It did not take long to see the first goal: at the seven minutes, Francesco Zampano galloped down the right flank, sprung loose by a through ball by Camillo Ciano, sent in a low cross that found the clumsy deflection of Matias Silvestre, who beat his own goalie. The Gialloblù went up in the score for the first time this season.

After about fifteen minutes, Empoli started to react: La Gumina attempted a back heel flick on a square ball, but he was denied by Marco Sportiello, same for Miha Zajc’s attempt from distance and the striker’s diving header. The Slovenian youngster came through at the 32th minute with a conclusion from close range, perfectly set up by a deep run by Antonelli after stripping the ball to an opponent. Zajc was the player who had shot the most without scoring in Serie A and also hit the post the most. The left back then cleared a sure fire tap-in by Ciano after Cambpell had picked his way to the base line.

The guests kept attacking and almost got the lead twice in the first half, first with Silvestre, who smacked the crossbar with a header, then with a shot from outside the box by Leonardo Capezzi that died on the side netting. The 2-1 goal arrived few minutes into the second half, when Silvestre bundled it home on a corner kick after a flick-on by a La Gumina.

Just when it looked like Empoli had taken control of the proceedings, Frosinone found a favorable episode, as Ciano drew a penalty on an inadvertent tackle by Capezzi. Ciofani stepped up to the plate and bagged his first goal of the season. But the striker was not done scoring, because at the 61st minute, Campbell engineered a great fast break with a remarkable 40-meter run and teed up his teammate in the box, who finished with aplomb after shaking a defender.

The Azzurri found one more resource off the bench: Salih Ucan subbed in for Zajc and immediately came close to scoring with a gorgeous free kick. He did find the target at the 78th minute firing home a dazzling volley for his first ever Serie A goal. Frosinone had two chances at the final minute on corner kicks, but one was deflected out-of-bounds and the other easily snared by Provedel.

The draw probably does not satisfy anybody here, but if both teams could show the same fire in other games, they could pick up some victories here and there and put up a fight to avoid the drop. The defensive phase remains a corner for both though. In the fantasy game, Daniel Ciofani amassed eight points, Ucan four, Zajc three, Campbell, Silvestre and La Gumina two.

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