Empoli-Sampdoria was by far the highest scoring and the most entertaining game of the round. The Azzurri came into the match looking to bounce back the 3-1 defeat in the Tuscan Derby with Fiorentina, their first loss in over a month. The Blucerchiati had brought home points in four straight contests, prevailing at home against Bologna and Parma and tying against Genoa and Lazio.
The two coaches pretty much went their regular XI, with Afriyie Acquah replacing the suspended Rade Krunic for the home team and Jacopo Sala in at right back for the injured Bartosz Bereszynski for the guests. Gregoire Defrel and Gaston Ramirez were picked over Gianluca Caprari and Riccardo Saponara and Jacob Rasmussen got a rare start over Domenico Maietta.
It was end-to-end stuff right away, as Fabio Quagliarella found the target with a header, but it was disallowed due to an offside. A little later, Antonino La Gumina drew a penalty because of a careless slide by Nicola Murru and Manuel Pasqual drilled it at the 11th minute.
The Liguri almost equalized right away with Fabio Quagliarella, but he was denied an easy tap-in by a last-minute clearance and then Ivan Provedel snared his attempt from outside the box. They did knot the game prior to halftime thanks to a solo goal by Gaston Ramirez, who danced past a pair of defender and put it on the right top corner with a wonderful lefty strike.
Sampdoria took over after the break, but Lorenzo Tonelli was stopped by the goalkeeper and had a penalty rescinded by a VAR review and Quagliarella squandered a pair of good chances. He came through with 20 minutes to go, connecting on a cross by Nicola Murru and knocking it on goal with a header.
Empoli scored a goal out of the blue, with Hamed Traorè setting up Francesco Caputo and the centre-forward finishing with aplomb in front of the goalie. It was initially ruled an offside, but again a VAR review rectified the decision.
Empoli was revived by the goal, but Sampdoria found more energies off the bench, in particular with the insertion of Gianluca Caprari, who put them on top again at the 87th minute with a daisy-cutter than went right through Provedel’s hands. The attacker did it again in the stoppage time and hit the net from improbable position deep on the left flank, surprising Provedel who was expecting a cross.
With the win, the third in the last four games, the Blucerchiati remain in sole possession of the sixth spot and basically closed the gap with Milan, but that area of the standing is packed. In the fantasy game, Gianluca Caprari paced everybody with his seven points, Gaston Ramirez picked up four, Fabio Quagliarella and Francesco Caputo, both booked, three, like Nicola Murru, who provided two assists. Traorè, Defrel and Saponara earned two as well because they set up their teammates, while Pasqual gathered just one because they conceded multiple times.
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