This already felt like a relegation dogfight, especially after the Tuscans became the first side in Serie A history to play the opening five rounds without a single point or goal scored. New coach Aurelio Andreazzoli made his debut with a 1-0 defeat against Inter, but still missed Daniel Maldini, Elia Caprile and Ardian Ismajli. Boulaye Dia was back on the Salernitana bench after a row over a failed transfer to Wolves, but Lassana Coulibaly was out with a fractured nose.
There was yet more bad news for Empoli, as in the opening stages they sustained two injuries, losing first Giuseppe Pezzella and then Bartosz Bereszynski.
Matteo Cancellieri threatened the opener with a rapid counter only to fire at Guillermo Ochoa’s legs, then moments later the goalkeeper had trouble parrying a strange, swerving Sebastian Walukiewicz half-volley.
Salernitana had the ball in the net too, but Jovane Cabral was caught in an offside position and the Tyronne Ebuehi touch was considered a deflection, not an attempt to play the ball.
Tommaso Baldanzi really should’ve scored, but couldn’t steer the Jacopo Fazzini cross on target from close range.
Empoli finally scored their first goal of the entire season when they struck on the counter-attack, Baldanzi flicking it on for Cancellieri, who down the left gave back the low assist for a tap-in from seven yards.
Youssef Maleh threatened a second, but his right-foot curler was just off target, while Baldanzi had penalty appeals waved away for a coming together with Riccardo Maggiore.
Paulo Sousa made a triple change at the break and Kastanos went close with a curler that skimmed the upright, then Bradaric volleyed over from a Pasquale Mazzocchi cross.
Stiven Shpendi thought he had doubled Empoli’s lead until the offside flag went up, then his effort from a tight angle forced Ochoa to parry with his legs.
Boulaye Dia made his comeback after several weeks of injury and dispute with the club over his failed transfer to Wolves.
Ochoa made a double save on Fazzini and Shpendi, even though the latter was offside, while Jovane Cabral blasted over from distance.
However, Ochoa was keeping Salernitana in the game, making a great reaction save on Emmanuel Gyasi and the Maleh rebound was deflected wide off Flavius Daniliuc.
Salernitana were in turn unlucky not to equalise on 88 minutes when Cabral unleashed a right-foot curler from the edge of the area that bent wickedly around the goalkeeper to thump the base of the far post.
Cabral was the last to give in, forcing another couple of saves from Etrit Berisha in stoppages.
Empoli 1-0 Salernitana
Baldanzi 34 (E)