Serie A Match of the Round – Lecce vs Bologna

There were limited hard-fought contests in the last round of 2020, which comprised mostly one-sided affairs. Lecce made it interesting late against Bologna and, even if their push come up short, it allowed the game to earn the honours of best of the weekend.

The Salentini eked out few points here and there in the past two months, mostly through draws, but have yet to prevail at home, while the Felsinei had done so in two of the past three fixtures, over Napoli and Atalanta. The Giallorossi got Marco Mancuso back from a lengthy absence and inserted him in the lineup right away, behind the striking duo composed by Filippo Falco and Khouma Babacar, while Jacopo Petriccione filled in for Zan Majer in the midfield. Sinisa Mihajlovic, on his third straight game on the bench following his illness, stuck with Stefano Denswil at left back, moved Takehiro Tomiyasu to the centre to replace the suspended Danilo and deployed Ibrahima Mbaye at right back. Roberto Soriano returned from a knee bruise and got the nod as no.10.

The guests had a terrific start and pretty much had their way through the first 75 minutes of the bout. Rodrigo Palacio was the recipient of two major chances in the first fifteen minutes, but he did not manage to knock one on goal, sending one wide and the other within the grasp of Gabriel. Moments later, Rodrigo Orsolini just missed the target on a quick shot from inside the box.

Gabriel parried away also a header on a free kick by Palacio and came out beautifully on the Argentinian veteran after his defenders had given away the ball in the dangerous position, then Orsolini hit the top of the crossbar while trying to head home the rebound. The busy goalie had to pull off another difficult save on a clumsy deflection by Fabio Lucioni. Andrea Poli put it wide on another potentially costly turnover by the defence.

It was Nicola Sansone’s turn to challenge Gabriel with a curled shot, but the goalie denied both him and the header by Poli on the second ball with a great dive. Denswil beat the goalie with a header on a corner kick, but Petriccione cleared it on the goal-line. Bologna finally broke through before the break, as Sansone set up Palacio with a low cross, the teammate whiffed but Orsolini was right behind him to punch it home.

The Felsinei got loose and the blow-out was on as, ten minutes into the second half, Palacio sprinted on a counter, Gabriel rejected his first attempt but Sansone recycled the ball for Soriano, who easily put it on goal. At the 66th minute, Orsolini duped Marco Calderoni with a double step-over and blasted it on the near post with a right-footed bullet, assembling his first Serie A brace.

Gabriel stopped another clear-cut attempt, this time by Sansone, but the home team, who had become increasingly offensive, managed to re-open the match. With five minutes to go, Calderoni found Babacar unguarded in the box and the forward volleyed it in. At the beginning of the stoppage time, Diego Farias shook off an opponent and slotted it home from 20 meters out. However, the Rossoblù kept possession in the final three minutes and brough home the third W in the past four games. They are now ninth in the standings, while the Pugliesi are 16th, just one point above the relegation zone.

In the fantasy game, Orsolini gathered eight points, the other scorers Soriano and Farias four, on a par with Sansone that dished two assists, Babacar amassed three because he was booked, Petriccione and Palacio two for setting up teammates.

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