Andrea Poli and Eder secured Sampdoria’s 2-0 victory over Chievo, but Cristian Puggioni somehow escaped a red card.
This was a battle to avoid getting pulled back into the relegation dogfight, but Samp were in better shape and unbeaten in four rounds. Angelo Palombo returned, though Enzo Maresca was injured, while the Flying Donkeys had to do without Gennaro Sardo, Adrian Stoian and Lorenzo Squizzi. Mamadou Samassa was the surprise starter rather than Alberto Paloschi.
Chievo had only ever won here once in all competition, a 2-1 result in September 2005, along with four draws and five defeats. Delio Rossi continued his two-match ban.
In the opening 30 seconds Samp surged forward and a clean Luca Rigoni tackle on Pedro Obiang forced a corner. Christian Puggioni parried from Andrea Poli at the near post, but the midfielder had already strayed offside.
Chievo settled after a poor start and Sergio Romero took the sting out of a Francesco Acerbi solo effort.
Sampdoria broke the deadlock with Poli gathering from Obiang on the edge of the box, turning and placing a precise angled drive into the far bottom corner where Puggioni could not reach. It was only his third Serie A career goal.
Chievo fought back, as Roberto Guana hit a screamer from 20 metres that Romero flew to fingertip over the bar.
It was so nearly 2-0 in stoppages, as Sansone pounced on Dario Dainelli’s slip and rolled across for Icardi, but Acerbi dived in with a decisive interception in the six-yard box. Dainelli sprained his ankle during that slip and was replaced for the second half.
The rain turned to snow after the break, but Chievo should’ve gone down to 10 men after 54 minutes. Samp went on the counter from a Chievo corner and goalkeeper Puggioni came sprinting out into midfield where he kicked Icardi in the knee. The referee was making his Serie A debut and listened to advice from his assistants, opting for a booking. It seemed to be not only a clear scoring opportunity, but also a blatant foul.
Puggioni palmed the subsequent Sansone free kick round the post. Icardi did not recover from that painful kick to the knee and hobbled off a few minutes later.
Chievo also had complaints over a Lorenzo De Silvestri handling offence in the box, as the visitors had more of the ball and the momentum as the second half wore on. They introduced Sergio Pellissier and switched to a 4-3-3 system to push for an equaliser.
A stunning Perparim Hetemaj scissor-kick volley from Luciano’s cross whistled just over the bar in an extremely difficult strike.
However, just as the Flying Donkeys were giving it their all to draw level, they were caught on a classic counter-attack. Eder ran on to a long pass and sprinted away from three defenders to pass an angled drive across Puggioni with the inside of his right foot.