African All Stars

Obi-less Salernitana climb out of Serie A relegation zone after defeating Okereke’s Venezia

23:02 EAT 05/05/2022
Without their Nigerian import, the Garnets silenced the Winged Lions to move out of the drop zone for the first time since August 28

Salernitana have moved out of the Serie A relegation zone after subduing Venezia 2-1 in Thursday’s Italian elite division encounter.

Unbeaten in their last four league matches, the Garnets welcomed Andrea Soncin’s men to the Stadio Arechi as they continued their battle demotion to Serie B.

They did not disappoint as they secured all points at stake thanks to goals from Federico Bonazzoli and Simone Verdi in the keenly contested fixture.

The hosts got off to a brilliant start and got a seventh-minute penalty after Pietro Ceccaroni handled the ball in the dangerous area. Following a VAR check, referee Maurizio Mariani pointed to the penalty spot with Bonazzoli drilling the ensuing kick past goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa.

Salernitana were inches away from doubling their advantage shortly after the half-hour mark but Maenpaa denied Ivan Radovanovic.

In dire need of a positive outcome, Venezia stepped up their performance in the second half to level matters through Thomas Henry in the 59th minute - tapping home from underneath the crossbar, after Luigi Sepe had failed to hold Mattia Caldara’s header.

To add further to Salernitana’s troubles, Sepe was subbed off moments later by Vid Belec having picked up an injury in the aftermath of the goal. 

However, super-sub Verdi restored the hosts’ lead in the 67th minute with a brilliant strike that sailed into the top left-hand corner. 

The Winged Lions’ ambition to restore parity suffered a huge blow after Ethan Ampadu was given the marching orders for a second caution in the space of 60 seconds as the home team remained in control to complete a league double over Venice based outfit.

While Nigeria’s Joel Obi was an unused substitute, Mali’s Lassana Coulibaly - who was handed a place in the starting XI - got replaced by Grigoris Kastanos in the 62nd minute.

On the other hand, Nigeria’s David Okereke played for 63 minutes while his compatriot Tyronne Ebuehi was not dressed for action. 

Although Venezia remain at the base of the Italian topflight log, they are seven points adrift of safety with only three matches left to play.