Over the past month, Palermo could not be beaten – the only problem was they couldn’t win either. After five straight draws, the Rosanero scored five goals against Modena to return to winning ways.
Palermo have been pretty remarkable in their first season back in Serie B after a three year absence. There were hardships to start the campaign. They lost five of their first eight matches. At the end of November, back-to-back losses against Cosenza and Venezia served as a wake-up call. After losing seven matches total in the first half of the season, Palermo have only lost one time since – against promotion contenders Genoa away from home. That loss came after a nine game unbeaten run that vaulted the Sicilians back into the thick of the promotion playoff push.
Following that loss on February 10th, Palermo are back in the midst of another unbeaten run. The issue, however, was their lack of victories during the five game stretch that saw them face Frosinone (1st), Sudtirol (4th), Ternana (12th), Pisa (5th), and Cittadella (14th). Draws against Frosinone, Sudtirol and Pisa could be understandable; yet, dropping points against a Ternana that was in total turmoil and a struggling Cittadella was disheartening.
The logjam of teams in the middle of the table meant Palermo was at risk of falling behind the pack for the final playoff spots. To make matters worse, Matteo Brunori picked up an injury forcing him to miss the upcoming match against Modena. For a team that is extremely reliant on his scoring output, this was scary news. In addition to Brunori, Francesco Di Mariano was also hobbled just as he was taking off, scoring three goals in the past two matches.
It was a good thing, then, that Palermo made significant investments to bolster the squad this past January. It was time for them to step up. Eugenio Corini gave four of the six signees a start for the pivotal match: Gennaro Tutino up top, Giuseppe Aurelio on the left wing, Valerio Verre (who has already been a starting XI staple) in the middle, and Simon Graves in the center of a back three.
For the third time in the last five games (and second time in a row), Palermo conceded a goal in the opening five minutes. Despite playing at home, the Rosanero looked rattled. Thankfully, 20 minutes later, they would find the equalizer through Tutino. After numerous appearances and chances, the ex-Parma man finally got his first goal for Palermo. Unfortunately, the tie only lasted five minutes as Luca Strizzolo would get his second of the half and keep Modena ahead at the break.
Palermo equalized immediately to start the second half after Edoardo Soleri smashed a header into the ground and past the Modena keeper. That goal would be Soleri’s first as a starter, having previously scored his other 14 as a substitute. The 25 year old has been a fantastic member of the club, working tirelessly without complaint no matter his role. To see him being rewarded with starts in his last three matches speaks to his value within the club. Soleri’s goal was the turning point in the match and Palermo would never look back.
After 10 minutes, Verre took advantage of a huge mistake in communication between central defender Antonio Pergreffi and keeper Riccardo Gagno. The ball took a bounce in between them and Pergreffi was waiting for Gagno to claim it, but neither saw Verre run around the defender and poke the ball past Gagno before depositing it into an empty net. Palermo were up, 3-2.
Three minutes later, Palermo broke the match open. Nicola Valente swung in a cross that the Modena defense was slow to react to. Aurelio stormed into the box and headed home the cross to put the Rosanero up two in a matter of minutes. Modena were stunned. For Aurelio, it was his first goal for Palermo as well as his first goal in Serie B. Expected to be more a signing for the future, Aurelio had been dominating Serie C for Pontedera with 5 goals and 7 assists. But the 22 year old has found himself in the starting lineup for three straight matches now for Palermo and doesn’t look like he’ll be ceding his spot anytime soon. Of all the signings in January, nobody would have expected Aurelio to have the biggest impact, but he is already making a case.
To cap off the rout, Palermo got a fifth goal from the penalty spot. Luca Vido had been having a tough time since arriving in Sicily. There were high expectations for his services, as he was supposed to be the backup to Brunori and had plenty of experience in Serie B. After 16 appearances though, he had yet to find the back of the net. His drought is one of the reasons why Palermo signed Tutino and even kept Soleri. Subbed on in the 74th minute, Vido would be tackled from behind in the Modena box only five minutes later. He stepped up to the spot and buried it for his first goal of the season and his debut goal for Palermo.
After it was all over, Palermo would get a much needed three points after a string of five draws while scoring five goals in the process without Brunori or Di Mariano. They scored five goals for the first time in nearly a year to the day having beaten Taranto in Serie C by the exact same scoreline on March 30, 2022. And it was the first time in four years that that Palermo had five different goalscorers find the back of the net in the same game, when they beat Corigliano in Serie D on March 11, 2019.
There are eight matches left in the Serie B season. Palermo will want to earn as high a place as possible with hopes of making it to the playoffs. Currently sitting in 8th place, these next two months are crucial to that push with largely the hardest part of the schedule out of the way. Friday’s victory was rewarding across the board, showing that the club has numerous players who can contribute in a myriad of ways. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a winning streak and not just the continuation of another unbeaten run!