This weekend summoned the long-awaited return of top-flight Italian football with Serie A the final major European league to resume action. Take a look back at the biggest highlights from the weekend’s proceedings.
The first Serie A game in 103 days and five seconds into the Italian League’s restart between Torino and Parma at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, the referee had to call the players back to retake kick off thanks to a deflated ball.
Torino could have had their relegation fears eased if it wasn’t for Andrea Belotti’s penalty miss in the second half: Torino and Parma shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw as Juraj Kucka equalised for the visitors after Nicolas Nkoulou nodded home the opener.
The flat ball personified what was a ‘flat’ comeback for Italian football and Torino specially, who after the game needlessly make headlines and rightfully drew criticism for posting a photo of Nkoulou kneeling before Belotti with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
— Torino FC English (@TorinoFC1906_En) June 20, 2020
Handicapped Hellas Verona hold out
In the other Serie A game on the first day of it’s return: 10-man Verona held on to beat Cagliari 2-1. Samuel di Carmine’s double proved enough despite Fabio Borini’s sending-off, with Giovanni Simeone getting a consolation goal.
The hosts appeared to be cruising to a win thanks to a brace from Di Carmine until the referee sent Fabio Borini off in the 35th minute for a late challenge on Marko Rog following a long VAR review. Giovanni Simeone quickly pulled one back but the visitors couldn’t find an equaliser, instead finding a red card themselves with midfielder Luca Cigarini sent off in the 70th minute.
Double trouble as Lukaku & Lautaro bag on Inter’s return
Third place Inter Milan restarted their season with a win thanks to forward duo Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez picking up of from where they left off.
Conte’s cavalry resumed their Serie A campaign with a 2-1 victory over struggling Sampdoria, although they lived dangerously in the second half.
Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez put Inter 2-0 ahead in just over half an hour but Sampdoria, pulled one back through Morten Thorsby early in the second and finished the match threatening an equaliser.
Lukaku celebrated his goal by taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The former Manchester United striker sits third in the goalscoring charts, with the Belgian’s goal on the weekend taking him to 18 goals in his debut campaign in Italy.
Typical Atalanta – back like they never left
Sunday saw Sassuolo thrashed by Atalanta 4-1 as Serie A staged its first match in Bergamo – one epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – since February 15th. The minute’s silence before the match was accompanied by a video honouring the near 35,000 people who died and a song called “Rinascero, Rinascerai” (I will be born again, you will be born again).
Then, the goals rained down: three in the first 37 minutes with two more chalked off and goalscorer Duvan Zapata also hit the bar. The Colombian added a second after the break and Atalanta also had penalty appeals waved away on a tight VAR decision; Gasperini, the Atalanta coach, was so incensed by the decision that he was sent off for dissent, making it the third red card across the Serie A restart. Bourabia made up for his own-goal however by scoring at the right end in stoppage time.
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