Coppa Italia Winners & Losers: Sassuolo, Vertus Entella & Riccardo Orsolini

When fifth-place Serie C side Virtus Entella scored in stoppage time of the second overtime against Genoa in the fourth round of the Coppa Italia, the Ligurian players couldn’t even muster the energy to celebrate. 

The marathon game had taken the wind out of the underdog’s sails a number of times already: After Simone Icardi gave Entella the lead at 20 minutes, a penalty call — converted by Krzysztof Piątek — equalized for Genoa. The exact same thing happened in the final 10 minutes of the match: an Icardi goal, a Piątek penalty equalizer. All three of Genoa’s goals, in fact, were converted by at the spot, the last being Gianluca Lapadula’s 110th-minute strike. 

But Entella did not give up. Sapped of energy and looking like they may fall apart — seconds before Entella equalized for good, Piątek clanged a shot off the post that would’ve seen the game complete — they scraped together a miraculous goal in the final seconds to send the game to penalties, where they won by a one-goal margin. 

Elsewhere in the fourth round, Sassuolo escaped Genoa’s fate by beating Catania on a strike in the final 10 minutes from AC Milan loanee Manuel Locatelli. Torino, Sampdoria, Benevento, Novara, and Cagliari advanced as well.

Perhaps the biggest winner of the round besides Virtus Entella was Riccardo Orsolini, the 21-year-old winger on loan to Bologna from Juventus. Orsolini has faced his ups and downs the last couple of years since he was acquired by the Old Lady, but performances like this show why the leaders of Italian soccer invested in him. Bologna must be thrilled, too. Orsolini bagged a brace with a creative pair of goals and assisted on the third, helping his side advance on a fairly smooth 3-0 tally against bottom-table Serie B side Crotone. 

On the first goal, Bologna’s No. 7 made a piercing run behind the Crotone center back, gathered the ball and then muscled his way into the penalty area. He displayed great strength — one could argue his shedding of the defender was a foul, but the official rightfully let the call go — and positional awareness with the run. Crotone keeper Alex Cordaz did well to stop the initial shot, but there was nothing he could do in letting the rebound fall right back to Orsolini, who didn’t panic and converted the opportunity. 

The second goal of the game was No. 7’s time to assist. From the right side of the field he sent a beautifully arcing in-swinger to the head of Diego Falcinelli. The final goal was something of an Arjen Robben feat — a player to whom Orsolini has been compared — as the youngster gathered the ball on the far right-hand side of the pitch, attracting two defenders, and feinted his way into the box. Instead of pressing the matter too much, he attempted a soft chip shot through the defense, around the keeper, and safely into the opposite corner of the net — an absolutely lovely finish.

The real action begins a month from now as the Round of 16 begins. As a reward for advancing, Vertus Entella will face a shaky but supremely talented Roma side. Bologna and Orsolini must face league leaders Juventus. Torino play perhaps the most compelling matchup against an up-and-down Fiorentina. Sampdoria take on AC Milan, Sassuolo face Napoli, Novara head to Lazio, Benevento take on Inter Milan, and Cagliari face Atalanta to round out the next group of games.

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