Soccer: Back to dogfight for Sassuolo after Milan win

Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:11am EST
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By Brian Homewood

(Reuters) - After causing the downfall of AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri with an astonishing 4-3 win, struggling Sassuolo return to the harsh reality of the fight against relegation when they host Torino on Sunday (1400 GMT).

Despite last weekend's victory the Serie A debutants are still precariously placed in 17th position with 17 points, one point and one place above Bologna in the drop zone.

The smallest town to be represented in Serie A, Sassuolo's season has been full of drama, from 19-year-old Domenico Berardi's four-goal performance against Milan to defender Francesco Acerbi's battle against cancer.

Results have been wildly inconsistent, ranging from a 7-0 home drubbing by Inter Milan to their first-ever top flight win on a near waterlogged pitch against Bologna and a memorable 4-3 victory at Sampdoria.

Sassuolo lost four league games in a row in December without scoring but bounced back in style against Milan, Berardi hitting four goals in just over half an hour as his side recovered from going two goals behind.

Few can predict what the second half of the season will hold although it is unlikely to be boring as coach Eusebio Di Francesco is reluctant to change his team's style despite the worst defensive record in Serie A.

"We certainly concede too many goals and are too open so the midfielders must work hard at helping to cover the defense but I enjoy myself more when we play good football," the coach said after the Milan game.

"I am extremely grateful to the players as every time they were called upon to put in a great performance, they were up to the task."   Continued...

AC Milan's Giampaolo Pazzini (R) jumps for the ball with Sassuolo's Luca Antei during their Italian Serie A soccer match at the Mapei stadium in Reggio Emilia January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo