Vibonese Vibes

Is there a better recipe for success than playing the last placed team in the group in the friendly confines of the Renzo Barbera?

It appears that answer is a definitive no.

Palermo looked to bounce back from their deflating loss to Virtus Francavilla the previous week by taking on relegation fodder Vibonese. Mister Baldini stuck with his 4-2-3-1 formation but surprisingly didn’t overhaul the side. The only personnel changes were the return of Ivan Marconi in central defense in place of Marco Perrotta and Samuele Massolo in goal to relieve Alberto Pelagotti. The goalkeeping switch may also have had something to do with Pelagotti’s shaky performances over the last couple of matches while giving Massolo an opportunity to shine.

Vibonese had a chance on goal in literally the first minute of the match but after that, it was all Palermo. Somehow the visitors managed to keep the score level at zero going into halftime. Palermo had numerous chances and a ridiculous amount of corner kicks in the opening 45 minutes, but were unable to find a breakthrough. Attacks were particularly effective on the wings, with both Roberto Floriano on the left and Nicola Valente on the right torturing the Vibonese fullbacks. Nevertheless, the finishing wasn’t quite there in the early going, paired alongside some fine saves from Vibonese’s under siege goalkeeper Riccardo Mengoni. Besides the constant chances, the only other noteworthy item from the first half was a yellow card shown to Marconi for a high boot that caught the face of an adversary near midfield.

To start the second half, Baldini brought on Perrotta for Marconi – not willing to take any chances of a sending off. It was a double substitution at that, as Samuele Damiani made way for Jacopo Dall’Oglio in the midfield. It wouldn’t take long for Palermo to find their breakthrough. In the 51st minute, Valente was rewarded for all of his hard work. The winger nearly had a goal in the first half after his header smacked off the crossbar, but this time he would not miss. A perfect cross from Maxime Giron found Valente unmarked. Nicola calmly controlled the bounce and slot it past Mengoni to give the Rosanero the lead. Giron nearly doubled Palermo’s lead minutes later via a free kick. It was a gorgeous curler that rounded the wall, beat Mengoni but unluckily caromed off the crossbar. Giron tried again from a free kick that was basically on the end line, nearly catching Mengoni who wasn’t expecting a shot from that angle. The keeper was able to get a touch and put it out for a corner.

Brunori scores in his 7th consecutive match equaling a Palermo record

The story heading into the match was whether or not Matteo Brunori could continue his torrid goal-scoring pace. The striker had scored in his previous six matches in a row and was in search of a record tying 7th. He had numerous opportunities, including an all-but-certain goal when he got the ball in the box with his back to goal, spun around and faked out his marker with only the keeper to beat from close range. Somehow, Brunori blasted over. It looked like it would not be his day. And yet, that would not be the case! In the 81st minute, Valente served up a ball on a platter for Brunori who used his left foot to sneak it past Mengoni into the far corner. Seven straight matches for Brunori with a goal – equaling a record set by Palermo’s Turkish striker Sukru Gulesin back in the 1950-51 season in Serie A. In addition to the record, it was Brunori’s 9th goal in the last seven matches, bringing his tally on the year to 16, still good for second place in group C.

The rout was on a couple minutes later as super sub Edoardo Soleri made it 3-0. Gregorio Luperini sent Soleri through on goal and it was surprising that the substitute was able to beat his opponent to the ball. He finished it off with a lovely little chip over the onrushing Mengoni. The goal provided the exclamation point on the affair and the Rosanero would get all three points. For Soleri, it was his 7th goal on the season with every single one of the goals being scored as a substitute. He has been a pleasant surprise for Palermo.

A good win, albeit expected given the opponents. The win at the Renzo Barbera also meant that Palermo have not lost at home for an entire year. Their last loss came against Juve Stabia in March of 2021. Since that time, they have 13 win and five draws in the league, two wins out of two in playoff matches and another two wins in Coppa Italia games. That’s 22 straight and underscores how badly the Rosanero need to start winning away from home. With these three points from Vibonese, Palermo sit in 6th place with a game in hand, trailing Monopoli by a point in fifth. In all honesty, there’s not a lot that can be gleaned from last match but there will be plenty to find out next match. Palermo go on the road to play 4th place Avellino. A win against the club from Campania would be a huge morale boost as we head into the final stretch of the season.


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