There is a lot of filler in these last few rounds as some teams have no real objective in sight, but when one of those put up a fight against a foe actually fighting for something, it can turn out to be a thrilling match-up, like it was the case for Torino-Sassuolo.
The Granata are in the hunt for the sixth place and were coming off a draw in the Derby della Mole, while they had taken home the full loot in the previous two contests against Genoa and Milan. The Neroverdi had stayed undefeated for six rounds, prevailing twice, and are right in the middle of the standings.
Walter Mazzarri could count on the return of Iago Falque, who was quickly inserted after Cristian Ansaldi bowed out with an injury, arraying a very offensive-minded line-up featuring Alex Berenguer as left wing back. Sasa Lukic filled in for the suspended Tomas Rincon. Domenico Berardi was a late scratch because of the flu and Roberto De Zerbi opted with a four-man back-line and a crowded midfield, with Stefano Sensi serving as no.10/false-nine accompanied by Filip Djuricic and Jeremie Boga up front.
The locals had the first chance at the 12th minute, but Andrea Consigli managed to bat away a header by the unguarded Lorenzo De Silvestri. They were awarded a penalty 180 seconds later for an inadvertent handball, but Andrea Belotti grazed the top of the crossbar in his attempt.
The Emilian side broke the deadlock out of the blue at the 27th minute, as Mehdi Bourabia got the ball 20 meters away from the goal and put it in the bottom right corner with a wicked daisy-cutter. However, he got his second yellow card of the day for lifting his jersey over his face while celebrating, leaving his squad outnumbered for over an hour.
Torino smelled blood, but Consigli saved another surefire header, this time by Armando Izzo and put his hands on a Falque effort and Belotti did not find a way to punch it in from the baseline on the rebound.
The script did not change after the break and the Sassuolo keeper tipped an amazing overhead kick by Belotti, but it was just the prelude. Simone Zaza was inserted to morph an all-out XI, but it was Il Gallo who found the equalizer, tucking it home on a great square ball by De Silvestri, who was found in the box by an exquisite ball over the top by Daniele Baselli.
Zaza had two clear-cut chances, but Consigli rejected his scuffed shot and he missed the mark on a header from inside the six-yard box.
The guests still had some life and scored again at the 71st minute, when Boga scurried past the defenders on the left wing, Salvatore Sirigu denied him but Pol Lirola poked it through with a back-heel flick.
Torino responded with fury and: two minutes later, Zaza this time finished with aplomb after beating the offside trap on a timely through ball by Soualiho Meite. Sixty seconds later, De Silvestri found Belotti in the heart of the box with a long delivery and the striker bagged it with a bicycle kick.
The Mazzarri troops held on and garnered a win that allowed them to keep up with Milan and Roma, which were both victorious. They will have to find a way to gain two points on one of them in the final two rounds to get in the top six, while they hold the same lead over Lazio. The Biancocelesti will face Atalanta midweek in the Coppa Italia final: if they lose, the seventh position would send a team to Europa League too.
Few players were able to accrue fantasy points: Belotti paced everybody with six, followed by Zaza and Lirola with four, De Silvestri got two for two assists and a yellow card, Meite and Filip Djuric earned two for his helper, same as Bourabia, who was docked some for getting sent off.
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