Standings implications: nothing changes in the upper echelon after the final game of 2018, as the top three teams did not look particularly impressive, but all came away with wins as Juventus and Napoli outlasted Sampdoria and Bologna and Inter beat Empoli on the road. Lazio and Torino shared the spoils in a very nervous games and this result allows Milan, who finally came through against SPAL, and Roma, which blitzed Parma, to close the gap for the fourth spot. In the Europa League race, Atalanta pummeled Sassuolo, while Fiorentina drew with Genoa. In the lower districts, Udinese outfaced Cagliari and Chievo finally earned their first win of the season by besting Frosinone in a battle of sad sacks.
Confirmations: Duvan Zapata and Fabio Quagliarella both protracted their scoring streaks. It took Cristiano Ronaldo just a pair of minutes to knock one past the opposing goalie and then he also converted a penalty. Arkadiusz Milik is on a roll and had a clinical brace. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is fully back and bagged a pearler to equalize after Andrea Belotti’s penalty. Josip Ilicic only scores in bunches and had his second hat-trick of the season. Bryan Cristante netted his third goal in December with his specialty this time, a header, and Cengiz Under finished off Parma. Balde Keita powered his team to victory with a pretty half volley. Andrea Petagna potted his sixth goal of the season in San Siro. Alfred Duncan returned with a bang and his brace gave Sassuolo some lifeline before the Ilicic explosion. Ignacio Pussetto confirmed his good form and stepped up with Rodrigo De Paul suspended.
Guess who is back: Gonzalo Higuain angrily snapped out of his slump after seven games. Alejandro Gomez returned to the scoresheets after a six-match absence. Federico Santander had missed the mark in the previous six contests. Emanuele Giaccherini bagged a spectacular free kick for his first goal since the season opener.
Surprise scorers: Atalanta continue to be a menace on set pieces and this time it was Gianluca Mancini punching one home. Danilo scared Napoli in similar fashion.
Flops of the round: Giovanni Simeone and Federico Chiesa both missed major chances against Genoa. Even in a winning effort for Le Zebrette, Kevin Lasagna missed a penalty and Rolando Mandragora was sent off for a very harsh tackle. Luca Ceppitelli was red carded in the same game and Cagliari struggled almightily in Friuli. Marco Capuano managed to get two yellow cards in the same action.
Clutch goal: Napoli had to dig deep against Bologna, but Dries Mertens saved the day with a strike from distance, where Lukas Skorupski was a little complicit with an imperfect save.
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