di Andrea Rosselli
A superb shot fired by Gianluca Comotto with just three minutes to go allowed Toro to collect their third win in a row and celebrate the Centenary in the most exciting way.
To be honest, the 1-0 win over Empoli wasn’t fully deserved. The Granata played a good first half, but in the second they were saved by an incredible mistake of linesman Ivaldi, who didn’t concede Empoli a clear goal.
The first part of the match was balanced, with Empoli starting better (good chance for Moro after 3 minutes and nice save by Abbiati) and Toro dominating between the 15th and the 30th minute: the Granata went very close to the lead at least twice, first with a header by Cioffi and then with a shot by Stellone that even touched Balli’s post.
Despite their ball possession, however, Zaccheroni’s men struggled to find spaces inside the opponents’ half: Empoli showed once again the reason why they can count on the best Serie A defence and played with an extraordinary tactical accuracy, preventing Toro to menace Balli’s net for the rest of the first half.
In the second half, after a careful start by both sides, Toro received the above-mentioned early Christmas gift: following a corner kick and a bad mistake by Abbiati, who completely missed the ball, Empoli midfielder Marianini headed towards the empty net. The ball clearly crossed the line when Barone managed to kick it away, but neither the referee nor the linesman realized it.
On the following play Toro went close to the lead when Abbruscato (who had just replaced Lazetic) perfectly assisted Stellone from the left wing, but the Roman striker’s touch only skimmed the post.
Following this chance, nothing happened anymore and the match was clearly headed towards an overall fair draw, although Toro had more ball possession. In the 87th minute, however, Comotto found room on the right wing and after moving towards the middle he fired an awesome left-footer from the edge of the box: no chance for Balli.
The final minutes were very intense, but there were no dangers for Abbiati’s net: the celebration, started four hours earlier with a beautiful pregame show and almost 100 former Granata players parading in front of the Olimpico fans, was definitely completed.