November 22, 2021
Coming off an exhilarating comeback win over Roma at Stadio Penzo, Venezia were set to resume play following the international break in a confident mood, as they visited ninth-place Bologna in Giornata 13 of the 2021/22 Serie A season. But while Venezia had progressively attacked Roma in what became a five-goal thriller, they took an entirely different approach on Sunday afternoon at Stadio Dall’Ara, patiently sitting back and managing pressure from the hosts in an impeccable defensive display, before striking on the counter in the second half to escape with a smash-and-grab 0-1 win.
The result marked Venezia’s first back-to-back victories in Serie A since legendary strike partners Álvaro Recoba and Filippo Maniero scored winners on consecutive weekends on April 1999.
From the start, Bologna dominated the ball, but they would struggle to find a pathway to goal, as Venezia’s back four remained calm and organized, with central defenders Mattia Caldara and Pietro Ceccaroni doing especially well to close down Marko Arnautović, the dangerous Austria international striker. Their best chance of the first half came in the 32nd minute when midfielder Mattias Svanberg fired on goal from just outside the area, but Sergio Romero was in position and parried it away.
At the other end, Venezia looked to spring into the gaps in Bologna’s three-man defense, utilizing the speed and movement of attackers David Okereke and Dennis Johnsen. But they would find opportunities few and far between, with ball-moving midfield trio Gianluca Busio, A.J. Vacca, and Ethan Ampadu having to defend deep, and the two sides remained deadlocked at 0-0 through 45 minutes.
Early into the second half, though, Venezia manager Paolo Zanetti would make three changes that helped change the dynamic of the match.
First, in the 55th minute, Johnsen made way for Thomas Henry, a more traditional striker who offered a new focal point on the counter-attack. Next, in the 59th minute, Tanner Tessmann and Sofian Kiyine came on, with the former providing added physicality in midfield and the latter bringing renewed energy in a free attacking-midfield role.
Almost instantly, Zanetti’s changes made an impact.
In the 61st minute, Henry, moving into a pocket of space in Bologna’s end, took a long ball from Ceccaroni and chested down for Kiyine, who dribbled towards goal and found Busio on the edge of the penalty area. Though he was immediately surrounded, Busio fought through multiple challenges and managed to poke the ball over to an unmarked Okereke. When Bologna ‘keeper Łukasz Skorupski slid out, Okereke quickly chipped the ball over him and into the net.
The goal ultimately stood as Okereke’s second consecutive match-winner, as Bologna manager Siniša Mihajlović would summon three strikers off the bench, but to no avail. In the 80th minute, Zanetti introduced Marco Modolo as a third central defender, and a resolute Venezia side would see out the result.
In 12 previous tries in club history, Venezia had won just once at Bologna in Serie A, all the way back in April 1943.
Next up, Venezia host Serie A champions Inter Milan at Stadio Penzo on Saturday 27 November.
Bologna 0-1 Venezia
Scorers: Okereke 61’
Bologna (3-4-2-1): Skorupski, Theate, Medel, Soumaoro, Hickey (Santander 79’), Svanberg, Domínguez (Viola 87’), Orsolini (Vignato 69’), Soriano, Barrow (Sansone 69’), Arnautović
Subs not used: Binks, Bonifazi, Mbaye, van Hooijdonk, Bardi, Bagnolini, Vignato, Cangiano
Coach: Siniša Mihajlović
Venezia (4-3-2-1): Romero, Mazzocchi, Caldara, Ceccaroni, Haps, Vacca (Tessmann 59’), Ampadu, Busio (Modolo 80’), Aramu (Kiyine 59’), Johnsen (Henry 54’), Okereke (Peretz 80’)
Subs not used: Mäenpää, Molinaro, Forte, Sigurðsson, Heymans, Bjarkason, Schnegg
Coach: Paolo Zanetti
Coach: Siniša Mihajlović