Serie B: Thrills aplenty as Venezia and Sampdoria entertain

Serie B started 2024 with a bang, largely thanks to Catanzaro, Lecco, Venezia and Sampdoria providing 16 goals between them over the weekend, while Parma remain top of the table and on track to return to the top flight.

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There was plenty of drama in the first round of Serie B for the new calendar year, and leaders Parma had their lead cut to four points after Venezia and Como won their respective Matchday 20 fixtures.

Parma are on 42 points after a 1-1 draw against Ascoli, but the Arancioneroverdi won 5-3 in a dramatic match against Sampdoria, and Cesc Fabregas‘ Azzurri thumped Spezia 4-0, closing the gap on the Crociati.

Meanwhile, Catanzaro have jumped to sixth after defeating Lecco 5-3 in another exciting clash. After beating the Blucelesti 4-3 on the road earlier in the season, the Aquile had to come back from 2-1 down at half-time in front of their home fans.

Catanzaro winger Dimitrios Sounas tries to shrug off Lecco midfielder Artur Ionita. (@USCatanzaro1929)

Catanzaro throw caution to the wind against Lecco

Catanzaro are in Serie B for the first time since 2004/05, but the Calabrians have not looked out of their depth in the Cadetti, often playing enterprising football. For the opening fixture of 2024, they hosted a Lecco side that had returned to Serie B via the Serie C play-offs.

The Aquile opened the scoring after 19 minutes thanks to a Luca Verna effort, but the Lombards turned things around shortly after with fine strike from Lorenzo Di Stefano and a Mats Lemmens header.

Dimitrios Sounas scored his first goal of the match to make it 2-2 four minutes into the second half, and Catanzaro captain Pietro Iemmello gave his team the lead from close range in the 53rd minute, but Andrija Novakovich equalised three minutes later with a header.

The Blucelesti thought they made it 4-3, but a Luca Giudici strike was disallowed for an offside in the build-up after a VAR review. Instead, it was the Aquile that scored their fourth after Iemmello provided a cross for Sounas to header in. An excellent team move by Catanzaro almost went unrewarded, but a slip-up from Lecco utility Franco Lepore allowed Tommaso Biasci to seal the win for the Calabrians.

Parma players Simon Sohm, Adrian Bernabe and Ange-Yoan Bonny celebrate. (@ParmaCalcio_en)

Pohjanpalo heroics crucial for Venezia

Venezia had failed to win their last four Serie B matches while Sampdoria had their purple come to an end before Christmas. The Arancioneroverdi came in fired up whereas the Blucerchiati were missing in-form striker Sebastiano Esposito due to injury.

Joel Pohjanpalo proved to be the star of the show, and he opened the scoring for the Venetians after 16 minutes with a clever back-heel. Leonardo Benedetti equalised in the 30th minute, but he earned two yellow cards for cynical fouls and received his marching orders before half-time. Before the Sampdoria midfielder was sent off, Matteo Ricci committed a foul in the penalty area and Pohjanpalo scored his second goal of the match with his spot kick.

The Finnish striker completed his hat-trick with a diving header after 58 minutes, but Fabio Depaoli helped turn things around for Samp. The right-back provided a through-ball for Manuel De Luca to run onto and lob the ball over Venezia goalkeeper Jesse Joronen, then the defender scored soon after when Ricci hit a long ball forward and headed the ball past a perplexed Joronen.

Despite the heroic comeback, Sampdoria could not hold on as Gianluca Busio made it 4-3 from close range, and Mikael Ellertsson sealed the victory with a powerful shot after a scrap in the box.

Serie B 2023/24: Matchday 20 results

DateSerie B Fixtures/Results
Fri, Jan 12Catanzaro 5-3 Lecco
Sat, Jan 13Bari 3-1 Ternana
Sat, Jan 13Cittadella 2-0 Palermo
Sat, Jan 13Como 4-0 Spezia
Sat, Jan 13Modena 1-2 Brescia
Sat, Jan 13Sudtirol 1-0 Feralpisalo
Sat, Jan 13Pisa 2-2 Reggiana
Sun, Jan 14Cremonese 1-0 Cosenza
Sun, Jan 14Parma 1-1 Ascoli
Sun, Jan 14Venezia 5-3 Sampdoria

Serie B 2023/24: Table after Matchday 20

PosClubMPPts
1Parma2042
2Venezia2038
3Como2038
4Cittadella2036
5Cremonese2035
6Catanzaro2033
7Palermo2032
8Brescia2028
9Modena2028
10Bari2026
11Reggiana2024
12Sudtirol2023
13Pisa2023
14Sampdoria2023
15Cosenza2021
16Lecco2020
17Ascoli2018
18Ternana2018
19Spezia2017
20Feralpisalo2014

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