On Saturday evening Palermo travelled to Turin to face struggling Torino at the Stadio Olimpico, who were back on home turf after last week’s dramatic last-gasp defeat across the city to rivals Juventus.
It’s been a torrid start to the season for the Granata who have found goals extremely hard to come by following the departures of Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile. The aged combination of Fabio Quagliarella and Amauri is just not in the same league and had only delivered three home goals this campaign prior to the match. With Amauri failing to find the net in any of his seven appearances, it was no surprise to see Josef Martinez get the nod ahead of the former Rosanero striker.
For Palermo, the main absentee was Il Capitano Edgar Barreto who was suspended following his dismissal in the closing stages against Parma last weekend, while Andrea Belotti was drafted in for a rare start in the absence of Franco Vazquez, also suspended.
In keeping with current form, it was Palermo who looked the brighter from the start and deservedly took the lead after 18 minutes. A smart ball from Paulo Dybala was smartly left alone by an onrushing Andrea Belotti clear down the inside left channel. The Italy U21 star unselfishly let the ball continue past him and onto a wide open Luca Rigoni – taking out the Torino defence in the process – for the midfielder to slot home into a near unguarded net.
That goal shook life into Torino. Quagliarella wasted two glorious chances before Martinez mustered up a superb equaliser on 35 minutes. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, the Venezuelan turned and shot in one movement to smash the ball into the bottom corner beyond Sorrentino from just outside area.
Parity didn’t last long though. Two minutes before the break, Dybala restored Palermo’s lead with an exquisite piece of skill to conjure up one of the best goals of the season so far. Achraf Lazaar’s zipped cross from the left was slightly behind Dybala who somehow reacted to flick the ball with his left heel over his shoulder and his marker before passing the bouncing ball under the on-rushing Jean-Francois Gillet with his next touch. It was an astonishing piece of skill and demonstrated just why Palermo and Zamparini value him so highly.
Let’s just hope the young Argentine – who finally seems settled at Palermo – isn’t auctioned off during the next transfer window as his goals and maturing ability are essential if the Rosanero are going to stay in Serie A this season. It’s still early in his career, but you can easily see why comparisons are being made to Sergio Aguero and finally Palermo has another talent with which a team can be built around.
That moment of magic ended the first half with Palermo leading 2-1.
The second half was a very different affair as Palermo sat back trying to catch Torino on the break. Those breaks though were few and far between as Torino piled on the pressure but struggled to create clear openings.
Both Martinez and Quagliarella stung the palms of Sorrentino from distance and eventually a second equaliser came on 63 minutes, when another former Palermo player Kamil Glik rose to plant a powerful header beyond Sorrentino from Omar El Kaddouri’s cross.
The last 30 minutes were seemingly played entirely in Palermo’s half without any real threat of a goal. Torino did have the ball in the net in the 85th minute when Ezequiel Munoz headed into his own net, but the goal was rightly ruled out following Darmian’s pressure from an offside position.
As the game ebbed to a draw, Darmian had the last meaningful effort when his drive swerved wide of the upright.
In the end, the draw was a fair result and chalked up another impressive away point for Palermo.