Monday, 25 February 2013

Cagliari 4-3 Torino

Nine-man Torino suffered an agonising last minute defeat in Sardinia, as Cagliari came from behind to win 4-3 in a match that had a breathtaking finale. 

Giampiero Ventura chose to line up with the same eleven that started the game against Atalanta, so last week's hero Valter Birsa had to make do with a place on the bench.
football formations
Usually before away matches, Giampiero Ventura would probably tell his team to keep possession in the early stages in order to quieten the home supporters. However, as this game was being played 'behind-closed-doors' due to safety concerns at the stadium, Ventura's pre-match team talk may have been a little bit different.

As has happened so many times in recent weeks, Torino had what seemed to be a solid claim for a penalty turned down by the referee, despite Angelo Ogbonna being upended in the area by Danilo Avelar. However, official Sebastiano Peruzzo did point to the spot when Ogbonna himself fouled Marco Sau. Whilst it was a clumsy challenge by the Italian defender, on the replays it looked as if the in-form Sau had ended up on the ground because he kicked fresh air, and not because he was fouled.

The former Juve Stabia striker picked himself up to take the penalty, and he dispatched it well to give the 'home' side the lead. After going behind the Granata reacted well, and were on level terms just two minutes after half time. Matteo Darmian's initial cross was blocked,  but the ball fell to Alessio Cerci who fired the ball into the bottom corner - although Cagliari keeper Michael Agazzi may feel he could have kept it out.

And less than ten minutes later Torino took the lead, as Agazzi failed to deal with clear Darmian's deep cross, and that allowed an unmarked Alen Stevanovic to side foot home. Many were surprised that Giampiero Ventura stuck with Stevanovic after his disappointing performance last weekend, so that goal was perhaps a reward for the manager's faith in the winger.

Torino had chances to extend their lead on the counter attack, but failed to take any of them - and were then punished fifteen minutes from full time when an unmarked Daniele Conti was able to head in from ten yards. In the last couple of minutes of normal time, Angelo Ogbonna's day got even worse when he upended substitute Mauricio Pinilla in the area to concede his second penalty of the game - and he also received his first red card of his career because he was the last defender.

Chilean striker Pinilla calmly converted the penalty, and that looked to be enough to seal all three points for the Sardinians, especially when Toro were reduced to nine men moments later. Young striker Abou Diop, who had been on the pitch for less than a minute was given a straight red card for an apparent elbow on Albin Ekdal, in what appeared to be an extremely harsh decision.

However, two minutes into injury time nine man Torino were awarded a penalty of their own when Rolando Bianchi was tugged back by Davide Astori. As Sau and Pinilla had done before him, Bianchi picked himself up and scored what looked to be a dramatic equaliser. But incredibly, there was still time for another goal, as with the last kick of the game, Daniele Conti's long range shot took a huge deflection off Kamil Glik to leave Jean-Francois Gillet stranded and Torino's nine men heartbroken.

Whilst this game's dramatic ending as well as some questionable refereeing decisions may divert attention away from Torino's performance, the Granata can be pleased that for 75 minutes of this match they were by far the better team. However, they will be disappointed that they were unable to extend their lead and make the game safe after taking the lead in the second half, and in the end they were punished in the cruelest possible way.

Forza Torino

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