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Serie A Weekly: Juventus eke out narrow derby win, Inter run riot & Milan slip again

Serie A Gameweek 15 produced exhilarating moments that electrified the fans and kept them on the edge of their seats.

We explore the stories and displays that shaped the week, delving into the tactical duels, standout individual performances and unexpected results.

Let’s walk you through Matchday 15.

Max Allegri strikes again

Juventus affirmed their Serie A title credentials with another gutsy win last Friday.

Federico Gatti’s match-winning goal at the start of the second half inspired the record-time Italian champions to a narrow 1-0 home triumph against reigning holders Napoli

It wasn’t a convincing performance by Massimiliano Allegri’s side by any means, yet they got another crucial three points over the line, courtesy of their unparalleled defensive resilience. 

Things could’ve gone the other way hadn’t Khvicha Kvaratskhelia spurned a golden opportunity to put the Partenopei in front midway through the first half. 

However, his wasteful finishing threw Juventus a lifeline, and the Turin giants have been clinical in this type of situation this season, maintaining a two-point deficit on table-topping Inter Milan. 

As for Napoli, Walter Mazzarri’s return to the helm has failed to produce the desired effect, with the troubled southern colossi losing three games on the spin since a 2-1 win at Atalanta to kick off his second mandate.

Muriel magic pours more misery on Pioli

Scudetto-winning manager Stefano Pioli is walking a tightrope after his out-of-sorts AC Milan side slumped to a last-gasp 3-2 loss at fierce rivals Atalanta on Saturday. 

Despite showing tremendous fighting spirit to battle back from a deficit twice, the Rossoneri failed to win points in Bergamo.

Atalanta took a well-deserved lead through Ademola Lookman late in the first half before Olivier Giroud’s head on the stroke of half-time gave Milan an equaliser.

Ten minutes into the second half, the Nigerian forward restored La Dea’s advantage, only for in-form Luka Jovic to put things back to square one with a routine finish in the 80th minute.

When a draw looked inevitable, Milan captain Davide Calabria picked up a second booking, with Gian Piero Gasperini’s side reaping the immediate benefit of numerical advantage.

Luis Muriel’s outrageous backheel goal deep into stoppages sealed the deal for Atalanta, inflicting more damage on Pioli’s reputation at the San Siro. 

Now nine points off the Scudetto pace, the 19-time champions face uncertain times. 

Unplayable Inter put Udinese to the sword

Leading Serie A title candidates Inter cemented their status as the supreme force in Italy’s top flight with an overwhelming 4-0 home triumph over underachieving Udinese. 

Despite being held goalless until the 37th minute, Simone Inzaghi’s high-flyers entered half-time 3-0 up following an outstanding seven-minute sequence at Giuseppe Meazza.

Hakan Calhanoglu’s penalty not only broke the deadlock. It opened the floodgates before goals from Federico Dimarco and Marcus Thuram put the game beyond Udinese’s reach before the interval. 

Serie A top-scorer Lautaro Martinez put the cherry on top with his 14th league goal of the season in the 84th minute, making it two league triumphs on the trot for the Nerazzurri.

And while Inter’s bid to win the title for the first time since 2020/21 remains firmly on course, Udinese finished the round level on points with 18th-placed Empoli.

Hotheaded Roma barely rescue a point against purple army

Fiorentina hauled back a 1-0 half-time deficit to hold a nine-man Roma to a tense 1-1 draw in Sunday’s ill-tempered Serie A contest in the capital. 

Jose Mourinho’s side thought they were on the verge of extending their superb seven-match winning streak at the Stadio Olimpico when Romelu Lukaku fired them 1-0 up in the fifth minute.

However, only 20 minutes after setting the Belgian frontman on a plate, talismanic Argentine forward Paulo Dybala succumbed to another injury setback. 

Dybala’s early withdrawal changed the game’s dynamics, forcing Roma to the back foot, with Vincenzo Italiano’s Fiorentina taking control of the proceedings. 

Things went from bad to worse when Nicola Zalewski received a red for a second bookable offence midway through the second half, hanging his teammates out to dry.

Only two minutes after the Poland international’s expulsion, La Viola restored parity through Lucas Martinez Quarta’s header with almost half an hour left on the clock.

Mourinho’s team took another massive blow on the brink of stoppages as referee Antonio Rapuano sent off Lukaku for a horror sliding tackle on Christian Kouame. 

Despite falling two men down, Roma eked out a precious draw to maintain their place in the top four.

Around the grounds

Unreal scenes took place at Unipol Domus as Cagliari pulled off an incredible injury-time comeback to beat 10-man Sassuolo 2-1 on Monday evening. 

Late strikes from Gianluca Lapadula and Leonardo Pavoletti annulled Martin Erlic’s seventh-minute opener, dragging the Sardinians out of the danger zone. 

Empoli and Lecce shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Carlo Castellani earlier that day. If you haven’t seen the goals, better check the YouTube highlights. 

Joshua Zirkzee’s first-half double laid the groundwork for Bologna’s 2-1 win at relegation candidates Salernitana on Sunday, drawing Thiago Motta’s side level on points with fourth-placed Roma.

On the same day, Dany Mota’s late winner catapulted Monza to a narrow 1-0 victory against Genoa, while the day before, Lazio failed to beat Hellas Verona, wasting a 1-0 lead in a gut-wrenching 1-1 draw.

Player of the week

Bologna starlet Zirkzee continues to make strides in Serie A this season.

The 22-year-old forward put on a match-winning performance at Stadio Arechi to maintain the Rossoblu’s dream start.

After opening the scoring with a simple tap-in, the ex-Bayern Munich youngster latched onto a disastrous back pass from Matteo Lovato to seal the deal for the visitors. 

What’s next?

Serie A’s attention switched to the Stadio Olimpico, where Lazio and Inter go head-to-head in a mouth-watering contest.

Juventus will try to take advantage of the Nerazzurri’s daunting trip to the capital to move to the top with a win at promoted Genoa, with Milan seeking redemption against Monza at the San Siro.

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