Weston McKennie returned from USMNT duty to help Juventus climb into Italy’s Champions League places while Gianluca Busio and Venezia tumbled down into the relegation zone with a loss against Napoli.
Venezia FC 0 – 2 SSC Napoli
Gianluca Busio saw 20 minutes of action for Venezia on Sunday as they were dominated at home by second-place Napoli, in a game that pushes them down into the relegation places.
After starting their previous league game before the break, Tanner Tessmann was dropped to the bench and was not called into action by head coach Paolo Zanetti.
Napoli dominated from start to finish in every possible category, with nearly two-thirds of possession, a 16-7 shot advantage, and, most importantly, the two-goal advantage on the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, the hosts managed to take the game into halftime scoreless, although Napoli’s Victor Osimhen came close at the 27-minute mark with a tight-angled shot from the right that clanged off the right post.
The Nigerian striker was however successful just before the hour, leaping high to connect with a precision cross from the right flank to the far side of the six-yard box by Matteo Politano; looping his header back across the face of goal just inside the far post.
Busio was called into action in the 70th minute in place of Domen Crnigoj, however was unable to help pull Venezia off the back-foot in his 20-plus minutes of play in the midfield. He earned a yellow card, his fourth of the season, for a foul on Piotr Zielinski in the 76th minute.
Despite the hosts valiantly keeping their deficit to only a single goal through the remainder of regulation, they were dealt a blow for any lingering hopes of a come-back three minutes into added time, after Tyronne Ebuehi was shown a straight red for a reckless challenge on Dries Mertens after a lengthy VAR review, leaving them at a man-disadvantage for the final going.
This practically sealed the victory for the visitors, and they added an exclamation point in the tenth minute of added time, moments before the final whistle, with Mertens and Andrea Petagna catching the defense off-guard, having a short give-and-go to setup the latter for an easy tap-in.
The result is a hard, albeit unsurprising one for Venezia, as it drops them into the relegation places, after having gone now more than two months without a win in Serie A. There is still hope, as they have a game in hand compared to the rest of their immediate competitors for survival, and will have a less formidable run of opponents coming up, beginning with Torino on Saturday.
Juventus 2 – 0 Hellas Verona
Weston McKennie was understandably held out of the starting lineup by Massimiliano Allegri for their Sunday-evening home game against Hellas Verona, and put in a short contribution in the end as the locked down to earn an important win.
The evening belonged the two major new arrivals for Juventus, with forward Dusan Vlahovic and winger Denis Zakaria doing the damage.
Vlahovic put the Old Lady ahead in the 13th minute in spectacular fashion, storming in behind the defense to run onto a ball from Paulo Dybala, then chipping Hellas keeper Lorenzo Montipo with his first touch for the lead.
Zakaria made it two just past the hour mark, sneaking in from the right side onto a lay-off from Alvaro Morata, taking a short stutter-step to draw Montipo off his line, and blasting his shot into the empty goal for 2-0.
McKennie entered the game with seven minutes on the clock for Zakaria, almost making it a three-goal lead in the 90th minute when he forced Montipo into a save.
The victory for Juventus allows them to pass Atalanta, who suffered a shocking defeat to Cagliari earlier in the day, and take hold of fourth place.
They will be back in action on Thursday when they host Sassuolo in the Coppa Italia quarterfinal, then visit Atalanta three days later in a critical game that will have major implications on European qualification.
Frosinone 2 – 0 LR Vicenza
Andrija Novakovich started up top for Frosinone on Saturday afternoon, as a two-goal victory over LR Vicenza took them within shooting distance of the automatic promotion spots.
Frosinone went ahead just before the halftime whistle, when Federico Gatti pulled down a corner, maintained possession despite the best efforts of Vicenza defender Sebastien de Maio, and poked it over the line from short range.
They struck again just after the restart, however with Vicenza’s other central defender Nicola Pasini scoring a spectacular own-goal while trying to clear a cross from Karlo Lulic.
After a respectable performance that saw him make three attempts on goal and set up a number of dangerous chances, Novakovich was pulled in favor of Emmanuele Cicerelli in the 69th minute.
Frosinone could have made it a three-goal win after Cicerelli was upended in the area, however Luca Garritano’s attempt bounced off the crossbar, forcing the hosts to settle for the 2-0 victory.
The convincing win over Serie A’s cellar dwellers brings Frosinone up to fourth place, two points behind Brescia and only three behind second-place Pisa, with a superior goal differential compared to both. They will be back in action on Saturday with a trip to Perugia.
Giuseppe Barone wasn’t in uniform for Ascoli in their 0-1 loss at home to AC Perugia. Anthony Fontana is rumored in the local press to have signed with the team and awaiting the official announcement of his arrival, however will not be immediately available due to an injury.