A Pazzini inspired comeback silences the raging bull.
#1. A nervy start. Against a slick and confident-looking Torino, Verona looked nervous and out-of-sorts. The first 45 minutes was not the kind of performance we've come to expect from Hellas, with some sloppy defending and little to offer going forward. In truth, Hellas were fortunate to be just one down at the interval.
#2. Juric rings the changes. Not satisfied with what he'd seen in the first half, Juric withdrew Di Carmine and Zaccagni in favour of Stepinski and Verre. Although it was a more focussed-looking Verona in second half, Torino scored twice in quick succession. At three-nil down with just 30 minutes remaining, the contest seemed over. But each of Juric's second half substitutes would play a decisive part in an unlikely comeback.
#3. Super Pazzini. With Amrabat hobbling, Pazzini was given a rare opportunity. A fan's favourite, the veteran striker has been side-lined by three consecutive coaches. Under Juric the 35-year-old had played only 17 minutes of competitive football, bu within minutes of coming on he calmly converted a VAR-awarded penalty kick (see #4 below). Minutes later his vicious strike on turn rebounded off the post and into the path of Verre who slammed home from close range. Two-three and with just 15 minutes remaining, the crowd sense that something miraculous might happen. With just five minutes remaining on the clock, Stepinksi was on hand at the back post to dink in a Veloso cross, to complete a remarkable come-back.
#4. So VAR so good. While recent VAR decisions have gone against the Gialloblù, we finally got the rub of the green against Torino, with both VAR decisions (a disallowed goal for Torino in the first half and the penalty decision in the second) going in our favour.
#5. Three points for a draw? Three-nil down with 60 minutes on the clock and a third successive defeat for Verona seemed inevitable. A Pazzini-inspired comeback and the home fans celebrated afterwards like it was a famous victory. A glance at the league table, though, shows a more sobering reality. Verona are in 12th place, just 10 points above bottom of the table SPAL. In the other direction, league leaders Inter are a distant 20 points in front. Despite an overwhelmingly positive mood around the club, survival remains the clear objective.
Next up Hellas Verona travel to SPAL on Sunday 5 January.