Sassuolo registered four Serie A wins in a row for the first time in two years after a 1-0 success over Spezia at the Mapei Stadium. Domenico Berardi provided Sassuolo’s decisive strike from a 12-yard duel, leaving the visiting Aquilotti winless in five SA trips.
Spezia didn’t take long to settle into the game despite their underdog status, mounting early pressure on a Sassuolo outfit struggling defensively at home, having recorded just two clean sheets at the Mapei Stadium since the start of September while posting a 50% loss rate in the same period.
Yet, despite the Neroverdi’s shortcomings at the back, they had a little problem going forward, though it took key man Berardi more than half an hour to truly threaten the visitors.
The first of Berardi’s successive chances was a sight to behold in particular, remarkably crashing off the crossbar to unsettle newly appointed Spezia coach Leonardo Semplici.
Referred to aptly as the ‘clash of the giant killers’ in Italian media – based on their preceding wins against Roma and Inter respectively – both Sassuolo and Spezia tussled back and forth, but to no avail, as they headed back into the tunnel with everything to play for after the break.
A three-match unbeaten run might have allowed Spezia some breathing space at the bottom of the table, but the hosts had no intention to allow the visitors a chance of extending that streak.
And Alessio Dionisi’s men finally drew first blood from the spot 25 minutes before FT after a period of concerted pressure. Kelvin Amian’s handball denied a goal-bound effort, and Berardi subsequently buried an inch-perfect penalty into the bottom corner for his fifth successful conversion from six attempts this season.
Shortly after, substitute Davide Frattesi skied a fantastic opportunity to double Sassuolo’s lead, prompting a sigh of relief from the visitors.
However, despite the miss giving Spezia some faint hope of a comeback, they failed to disrupt the Neroverdi’s momentum and now go back to losing ways after their heroic win against Inter seven days ago.
Now having played a game more than their bottom-three chasers, the Ligurians still hold a five-point cushion above the nearest relegation spot, whereas a rare clean sheet wins at home increases Sassuolo’s hopes of a top-half finish.
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