It was a hugely-entertaining six-goal thriller and there could easily have been more goals, as Marko Arnautovic missed a penalty and hit the woodwork in Bologna’s 4-2 defeat to Empoli.
The hosts missed Lorenzo Tonelli and Riccardo Fiamozzi, but confirmed Federico Di Francesco after a surprise win away to Cagliari. Bologna were struggling after a 6-1 loss at Inter and 2-2 draw with Genoa, while Jerdy Schouten was still out of action.
It was the worst possible start for Bologna, as in the opening minute, Liam Henderson whipped in a seemingly normal cross from the right and Kevin Bonifazi came sliding in from six yards to accidentally prod it into his own net.
However, Musa Barrow got his men back on level terms. His strike from distance was fingertipped over the bar, then the resulting corner was taken short to the edge of the box, where his daisy-cutter drilled into the near bottom corner.
Bologna also received a penalty for an entirely unnecessary Szymon Zurkowski tackle on Lorenzo De Silvestri. However, Marko Arnautovic stepped up and fired the spot-kick onto the base of the upright.
Instead, Empoli restored their advantage when a free kick was taken quickly and Stojanovic pulled back from the by-line for Andrea Pinamonti to sweep into the far bottom corner from nine yards.
Nicola Sansone stung the goalkeeper’s gloves at the near post, the Henderson couldn’t quite get the final touch from close range on a pull-back from the by-line. After viewing it again on VAR, the referee realised that was because he’d been tripped from behind by substitute Arthur Theate, so Nedim Bajrami converted the penalty.
Bologna thought they’d got back into it just after the hour mark, but Barrow’s screamer smashed against the crossbar and Arnautovic failed to nod in the rebound from point-blank range, also clipping the frame of the goal.
Empoli rattled the frame of the goal too, a Zurkowski curler from the edge of the area bouncing off the crossbar.
Arnautovic might’ve missed the penalty, but he did get on the scoresheet for Bologna, given time to control and fire in a De Silvestri cross from six yards.
Just over a minute later, it was almost 3-3, as Arnautovic thumped the frame of the goal yet again with a volley on a corner.
Instead, Samuele Ricci secured the spoils for 4-2 with a daisy-cutter into the near bottom corner from distance.
Empoli 4-2 Bologna
Bonifazi 1 (E), Barrow 11 (B), Pinamonti 31 (E), Bajrami pen 54 (E), Arnautovic 76 (B), Ricci 90 (E)
Missed penalty: Arnautovic 20 (B)