Weston McKennie and Juventus settled for a scoreless draw at AC Milan while Tanner Tessmann and Covid-hit Venezia narrowly missed a shock result against Inter Milan in the last Italian action before the international break.
Inter Milan 2 – 1 Venezia FC
In the midst of chaos brought on by a sudden Covid outbreak in the team, Tanner Tessmann and Venezia were moments away from pulling off a stunning result in Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, only to suffer a late heartbreak.
Tessmann earned the start in Venezia’s central midfield, playing 66 minutes before being subbed out, while Gianluca Busio was forced to miss the game due to being one of the many players caught up in spate of infections.
The American had perhaps his strongest game of the season, mostly involved in disrupting the relentless forward push of Inter, who held 70% of possession and dominated the total shots by a 24-3 margin. In his 66 minutes, he only had 25 total touches, but completed nine of 11 passes, made three clearances, and intercepted a pair of Inter passes.
Despite the hosts having the clear upper hand, Venezia scored the opener in the 19th minute, as Thomas Henry caught his defender and Inter keeper Samir Handanovic off-guard, and headed in a long-cross from Ethan Ampadu from the left edge of the six-yard box to the center of goal, just beyond the keeper’s reach.
The visitors held strong against the relentless onslaught, but conceded the equalizer five minutes before the half, when Ivan Perisic’s six-yard volley was parried by Venezia keeper Luca Lezzerini, only to land in the path of Nicolo Barella for an emphatic short-range finish.
Faced with holding off wave after wave of Inter attack, Tessmann was pulled in the 66th minute along with Michael Cuisance for a pair of fresh legs to keep up the fight. The coach’s move, as well as a trio of substitutes 15 minutes later seemed to pay off as they were able to stifle their increasingly desperate hosts, however in the end it wasn’t to be.
With one minute left in regulation, Hakan Calhanoglu recovered the ball in midfield, and initiated an attack that ended with Edin Dzeko rising high to head in a cross from Denzel Dumfries for the 90th-minute winner.
The result leaves Venezia still in 17th place and just above the relegation places in Serie A, however the gap has now narrowed to a single point over Cagliari. They return to action on February 6, with another difficult game when they host second-place Napoli.
AC Milan 0 – 0 Juventus
Weston McKennie put in an 90-minute shift in Juve’s midfield on Sunday evening ahead of international duty, however was unable to help the team overcome a stiff Milan defense in a scoreless draw at San Siro.
The Rossoneri were the aggressors on their home turf, almost doubling Juve’s total attempts towards goal despite the teams roughly holding equal amounts of possession. For his part, McKennie was forced to play a more defensive role in midfield compared to their last few game. With 51 total touches over 90 minutes, he completed nearly 90% of his 37 pass attempts, and managed one shot.
Perhaps the most significant moment of the game happened shortly before the half-hour, when ageless Milan superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic left the game with an apparent ankle sprain, making way for Frenchman Oliver Giroud (who five years his junior, is still not even half the player of the Zlatan).
The hosts forced Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny into four saves, while failing to even manage a single shot on goal (amongst their eight total shots off-target). One of their attempts fell to McKennie with five minutes left in regulation, however his header from the middle of the area was wide right.
In the end, neither team could break through, and both were forced to settle for a solitary point.
With fourth-place Atalanta also having a scoreless draw at Lazio the night before, Juventus are in exactly the same position as prior to the game, in fifth, a point behind the Bergamaschi. They will return to the field on February 6 when they host Hellas.
Parma 0 – 1 Frosinone
Andrija Novakovich was again an impact substitute for Frosinone on Friday evening, coming on midway through the second half and setting up the winning goal against Parma’s legendary keeper Gianlugi Buffon.
In Frosinone’s last outing against Pisa, Novakovich made the most of his substitute appearance in scoring the team’s final goal in the win, and made an even bigger impact at Parma after entering the game in place of Karlo Lulic in the 65th minute.
Seven minutes after coming onto the field, the American received the ball just inside the Parma half and battled his way amongst a crowd of defenders to the edge of the area, before sliding the ball out left to Emanuele Cicerelli. The 27 year-old took a few steps towards the middle before launching a spectacular shot to the upper right corner, against which Buffon could do nothing but helplessly admire from several yards away.
Frosinone remain safely within the promotion playoff spots for Serie B, and will look to improve upon their seventh-place standing on February 5 when they host dead-last Vicenza.
Bryan Reynolds’ loan to Belgian club Kortrijk was confirmed on Sunday afternoon, thus the did not participate in Roma’s 4-2 dismantling of host Empoli, and will not be a factor for the team until next season.
Guiseppe Barone did not suit up for Ascoli’s 3-1 road win over Cosenza on Saturday. The long-rumored signing of Ascoli trialist Anthony Fontana has yet to be confirmed.