by Satish Sekar at the Renato Dall’Ara Stadium © Satish Sekar (May 11th 2014)
Bologna’s 2-1 defeat at home to Catania proved no use to the Sicilian club either. Both clubs were relegated to Serie B. Bologna’s fans booed their team off the pitch – an action aimed at their President Alberto Guaraldi. The fans were livid at the sale of Alesandro Diamanti to Guangzhou Evergreen in February, especially without securing adequate cover.
They sportingly applauded surprised Catrania players off the pitch too. Catania’s players reciprocated. Meanwhile, police deployed a helicopter in anticipation of disorder. Riot police maintained a visible presence too. There was no disorder.
The Pellegrino Effect
Despite three wins in their last five matches under former Valencia coach Maurizio Pellegrino, including last week’s 4-1 demolition of Roma, Catania’s 2-1 away victory over Bologna proved too little to late to avoid the drop to Serie B. The pill will be even harder to swallow knowing that bitter rivals Palermo return to top flight football after a year’s absence. Bologna’s defeat sent them to Serie B too as Sassuolo followed their 4-3 win at Fiorentina with a 4-2 dismantling of Genoa and Cagliari was defeated at home by Chievo Verona.
Against the run of play Luciano Monzon’s 22nd minute free-kick gave the visitors the lead – a lead they held until half time despite the sending off of Gino Peruzzi for two yellow cards with just under half an hour played. A superb 79th minute strike by Archimede Morleo which gave the outstanding Catania goalkeeper Alberto Frison no chance levelled the scores. Gonzalo Bergessio scored the controversial winner with five minutes of normal time remaining. The Sicilian-born Pellegrino performed wonders for Antonio Pulvirenti’s team, taking 9 points out of 15, but the resurgence came too late.
Both Bologna and Catania knew that only a win could save them and even then, they needed other results to go their way, which didn’t happen. Bologna, however have cause to be aggrieved. Within a minute of equalising Morleo was clearly tripped in the box by Catania’s captain Mariano Izco. Referee Gianluca Rocchi waved the protests away. Yet again, the issue of technology rears its ugly head. TV replays showed the foul – it should have been a penalty and that might have made all the difference.
About 20 minutes earlier substitute Robert Acquafrecsa had his demands for a penalty against Norbert Gyombar turned down too. Quite how the persistent fouling of Fabian Rinaudo earned only one yellow card is a mystery that only Rocchi can resolve. Less than 5 minutes after Peruzzi was sent off Rinaudo’s foul on Lazaros Christodoulopoulos deserved a card – former Manchester City striker Rolando Bianchi, who resurrected his career at Torino got one for dissent instead.
Panagiotis Kone had been booked for a much more innocuous foul on Monzon, after all. Rinaudo was finally booked less than five minutes into the second half for a nasty trip on Morleo which enraged Bologna’s players. Rinaudo remained on the pitch.
The counter-attacking move which resulted in the deciding goal began with yet another foul by Rinaudo on Morleo again. Once again it wasn’t given and worse still Cesare Natali broke rapidly before finding Bergessio on the right of the area. His shot embarrassed Gianluca Curci at his near post to give Catania a lead that they clung onto through 5 minutes of added time.
Rocchi brandished a straight red card at an incensed Danielle Papon for dissent. Nippon was on the bench. Rocchi also booked Frison for time-wasting before insisting that Catania’s goal-keeper retake the goal-kick, so Bologna could make a substitution first.
To And Fro
Bologna had the best of the opening half of the first half. Kone pulled strings while Christodoulopoulos tormented Catania’s defence without testing Frison. The keeper distinguished himself in the second half with a string of fine saves that preserved Catania’s lead despite the numerical disadvantage.
Five minutes before Bologna’s bizarre wall gifted a gap that Monzon could not resist, Christodoulopoulos delivered a teasing cross that Bianchi headed just over the bar. With five minutes of the first half remaining Christodoulopoulos fluffed his shot, which found substitute Jonatan Cristaldo on the left at a very tight angle – he could only hit the post. It rebounded to Gyorgy Garics, but his tame shot was gratefully collected by Frison. In injury time Kone’s cross was headed at goal by Rene Khrin, but Frison parried.
He was kept busy in the second half and excelled. Just over 10 minutes into the second half substitute Barreto Ibson was convinced that his powerful shot from just inside the area would restore parity, but he had not reckoned on the excellence of Frison. Shortly afterwards a goalmouth scramble ricocheted to Bianchi, but his goal-ward prod was saved by Frison. With less than 10 minutes remaining Christodoulopoulos unleashed a powerful 25 yard shot, but Frison was equal to it yet again.
Catania held on to win, but Rocchi’s performance will surely raise eyebrows and demands for technology. Television replays revealed that Rocchi had got to major decisions wrong. Bologna should have had a penalty and Catania’s winner should have been hauled back for a free-kick. With the cost of relegation looming large for Bologna, isn’t it time technology was used to ensure that referees get the help it can offer where needed?