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Domenico Berardi marked his highly anticipated season debut for Sassuolo by delivering a splendid performance, scoring a brace that propelled his team to their first victory of the campaign and ending Verona’s perfect start to the season.
Berardi’s return to the squad was eagerly awaited after overcoming back issues and a potential transfer to Juventus. Unfortunately, Maxime Lopez was suspended, and Agustin Alvarez was sidelined due to injury. Sassuolo had endured a difficult start to the season, suffering defeats in both of their previous games, while Hellas Verona had enjoyed a flawless record, being joint top with a 100 percent win rate. Isak Hien was serving a suspension, and Darko Lazovic, Jayden Braaf, and Thomas Henry were sidelined.
The opening goal for Sassuolo arrived in the 11th minute when Berardi’s shot was parried, only for Jeremie Toljan to send in a cross that found Andrea Pinamonti, who executed a glancing header from six yards.
Ondrej Duda missed an opportunity to level the score with a wayward effort from the edge of the area, and Cyril Ngonge had a goal disallowed due to an offside position by Michael Folorunsho before he could apply the finishing touch.
Verona’s woes deepened as Martin Hongla was forced off due to injury, and Ngonge directed a free header wide. Meanwhile, Matheus Henrique narrowly missed the target with a dinked finish after a delightful give-and-go sequence with Berardi.
Hellas Verona stumbled into an equalizer somewhat unintentionally, as Ngonge cut inside from the right and attempted a left-footed cross that eluded everyone and nestled into the far bottom corner of the net.
However, Berardi’s season debut was truly special as he latched onto Armand Lauriente’s through ball and saw his shot deflect off Diego Coppola’s knee, wrong-footing the goalkeeper in the process.
Berardi’s remarkable performance continued as he chased down Nedim Bajrami’s through ball, only to be brought down clumsily by Josh Doig, resulting in a penalty. The captain stepped up and calmly converted to complete his brace.
Bajrami came close to extending the lead to 4-1 with a well-angled drive that was parried away by Lorenzo Montipò at the near post. The goalkeeper produced a sensational one-handed save to deny Lauriente and preserve some pride for Verona.
The final score was Sassuolo 3-1 Verona, with Pinamonti (S) scoring in the 11th minute, Ngonge (V) equalizing in the 56th minute, and Berardi (S) sealing his brace in the 64th and 72nd minutes.