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Serie A Weekly: Pulisic strikes again, Napoli & Inter relentless, Roma & Juventus stutter

It wasn’t the most eventful weekend in Serie A, yet several big guns are already up to their necks in trouble. 

Only four sides boast a 100% win ratio after the opening two rounds of fixtures.

Here’s a brief recap of all the happenings on Matchday 2.

New-look AC Milan maintain rich vein of form at San Siro

Christian Pulisic’s early life in Serie A may have made Chelsea scratch their heads after effortlessly letting him join AC Milan on a cut-price deal in the summer.

After hammering home a rocket missile in a 2-0 humbling of Bologna on the opening weekend, the lightning-fast winger opened the scoring on his San Siro debut as Milan thumped Torino 4-1. 

Pulisic and his former Chelsea teammate Ruben Loftus-Cheek combined well to inspire the Rossoneri to a well-deserved opener, with the 24-year-old tapping home from point-blank to put Stefano Pioli’s side in front.

Torino replied three minutes later through highly-rated defender Perr Schuurs, who slotted home a sublime half-volley from an awkward position to level the score.

Little did Ivan Juric’s side know they would find themselves two goals down at half-time after restoring parity in the 36th minute, yet Olivier Giroud and Theo Hernandez were relentless.

Another ex-Chelsea ace was on the scoresheet on Saturday evening as Giroud converted a penalty in the 43rd minute to re-establish Milan’s lead. 

When it looked like the Rossoneri would go into the dressing room with a slender lead, Rafael Leao played a delightful through ball into the stride of Hernandez, who chipped it over Vanja Milinkovic-Savic to ensure a two-goal cushion.

Despite relinquishing their attacking ambitions after the break, Milan tripled their advantage midway through the second half. 

Schuurs’ reckless challenge on Leao went unnoticed by referee Maurizio Mariani at first look. But after consulting with VAR, he pointed to the spot, with Giroud taking his tally for the season to three. 

Milan are now unbeaten in their last ten Serie A matches on home turf, a run stretching back to late January, while Torino will hope to bounce back from a two-game winless start against newly-promoted Genoa next weekend.

Reigning champions Napoli ease past 10-man Sassuolo

Fresh off a come-from-behind 3-1 win at newcomers Frosinone on the opening weekend, Napoli returned to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona to host Sassuolo on Sunday.

Despite finishing their Scudetto-winning campaign with three consecutive home league wins last season, the Partenopei had failed to score in the first half in eight straight home outings before Sunday.

Last season’s Capocannoniere award winner, Victor Osimhen, picked up where he left off at Frosinone, thundering home an early penalty to fire new boss Rudi Garcia to a perfect home debut. 

When it looked like Sassuolo could gain a foothold in the game, Maxime Lopez received a straight red card for dissent, stripping Alessio Dionisi’s men of any realistic chance of troubling their high-flying hosts.

However, ex-Neroverdi forward Giacomo Raspadori offered his former side a lifeline as he skied the ball over the crossbar from the spot on the hour mark. 

Sassuolo’s hopes of pulling off a comeback didn’t last long. Captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo escaped his markers before picking out a far corner with a poacher’s finish just four minutes later.

Napoli wasted several presentable opportunities in the remainder of this one-sided contest but still walked away with three points, leaving Dionisi’s team pointless after two rounds. 

Inter Milan drown Cagliari in Sardinian waters

A scoreless away draw against Torino on the opening weekend handed promoted Cagliari a legitimate reason to hope they could defy an underwhelming home record against Inter. But it wasn’t meant to be.

Marquee summer signing Marcus Thuram dispatched an inch-perfect pass into the box for Denzel Dumfries to collect and finish with aplomb, giving Simone Inzaghi’s side an early lead.

Lautaro Martinez, who saw his left-footed half-volley rattle off the post minutes before the Dutchman’s opener, took the spotlight on the half-hour mark to put clear daylight between the sides.

The Argentine striker broke one-on-one with Cagliari goalkeeper Boris Radunovic after getting on the end of Federico Dimarco’s lofted pass and showed composure to extend his scoring spree against the Sardinians.

It was his ninth goal against Cagliari in as many Serie A appearances against them.

Hellas Verona stun Roma

With Jose Mourinho still serving a touchline ban, Roma headed to the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, looking to make amends for a dismal 2-2 home draw against Salernitana last time out.

They had a rather unpleasant welcome in Veneto, with Ondrej Duda putting last season’s relegation fighters 1-0 up only four minutes into the game.

Verona added insult to injury on the stroke of half-time. Cyril Ngonge sprinted behind the enemy lines before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the top corner, giving Roma a mountain to climb in the second half.

When Houssem Aouar nodded home a loose ball inside Verona’s six-yard box in the 56th minute, the Giallorossi thought they could be on the verge of recovery.

But the home side’s backline stood firm for the rest of the game despite Isak Hien’s expulsion in the 84th minute reduced them to ten men.

While Roma are winless after the opening two matchdays, Verona are among a select group of four clubs to have started the new Serie A season with back-to-back wins. 

Bologna take the wind out of Juventus’ sails

An emphatic 3-0 win at Udinese in round one encouraged Juventus to believe they could overcome an ominous-looking off-field turmoil and a poorly managed transfer window. 

However, Bologna snapped Massimiliano Allegri’s side back to reality, holding them to a dramatic 1-1 draw at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday evening. 

Lewis Ferguson gave Thiago Motta’s lads a 1-0 lead at half-time before Dusan Vlahovic put things back to square with a towering header in the 80th minute.

Allegri ordered a siege in the second half, introducing Paul Pogba and Arkadiusz Milik into the fray, but to no avail. 

Bologna’s defence didn’t blink, condemning Juventus to another dreadful result.

Around the grounds

Lazio cannot catch a break without their former talisman Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

After surrendering a 1-0 lead in a stomach-wrenching 2-1 defeat at below-par Lecce, Maurizio Sarri’s side slumped to a 1-0 home loss to promoted Genoa on Sunday.

Mateo Retegui scored his first Serie A goal for Alberto Gilardino’s side to stun the Stadio Olimpico into silence and inspire Genoa’s resurgence after an embarrassing 4-1 loss to Fiorentina.

La Viola seemed to be cruising to a perfect two-game start to the season after Nicolas Gonzalez and Alfred Duncan propelled them to a 2-0 half-time cushion against Lecce on home turf.

But Roberto D’Aversa’s ‘comeback kings’ struck again, netting an unanswered second-half brace to eke out a 2-2 draw at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Genoa’s fellow newcomers Frosinone proved no match for Napoli in their opening match of the season, but they took a major scalp in their second home outing. 

Abdou Harrou and Ilario Monterisi catapulted Eusebio Di Francesco’s side to a two-goal lead inside the opening 24 minutes of their home clash against Atalanta.

Duvan Zapata pulled one back for the visitors, but it wasn’t enough to salvage a point for La Dea.

Player of the week

Our player of the week is Monza’s Andrea Colpani. The 24-year-old winger scored on either side of half-time to take down Empoli single-handedly at the Brianteo.

After a 2-0 loss at Inter last time out, Raffaele Palladino’s men found themselves on the right end of that scoreline thanks to Colpani’s phenomenal individual display. 

His 45th-minute deadlock-breaker was a state of art. After scoring ‘the goal of the week’, his header found a way into the net early in the second half to seal Empoli’s fate.

Ones to watch in Gameweek 3

A mouth-watering encounter between Roma and Milan falls on Friday, and there’s a good chance that Romelu Lukaku could make his Giallorossi debut after arriving from Chelsea on loan.

Out-of-sorts Lazio will be desperate to put Napoli’s title credentials to the test when the two sides lock horns at the Maradona Stadium on Sunday night. 

Inter’s home meeting with Fiorentina should be another intriguing match-up if the visitors can recover from a mental shock after cheaply dropping two points against Lecce.

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