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banner Monday, 19 November, 2001, 15:22 GMT
Verona derby top dogs
Chievo lost 3-2 to rivals Hellas Verona in the city's first Serie A derby
Chievo lost to rivals Verona but still top Serie A
BBC Sport's Stefano Bozzi reports on a dramatic first ever Verona derby in Serie A.

If you looked to the sky above the Stadio Bentegodi in Verona on Sunday you would have been disappointed.

Firstly those fabled flying donkeys - who Verona fans claimed would appear if there was ever a Serie A city derby between their beloved Hellas Verona and their surburban rivals Chievo Verona - failed to show.

And secondly you would have missed an extraordinary game, which included five goals, two penalties, an own goal, a disallowed goal and a red card, as Verona triumphed 3-2.

A capacity crowd of 45,000 packed into the Bentegodi - the stadium which the two clubs share - for this historic occasion for this proud north-eastern city.

The match was also live on pay-TV as Verona laid claim to be the Italy's new football capital.

The two clubs' points added together are more than Milan's Inter and AC, Rome's Lazio and Roma, and Turin's Juventus and Torino.

Tasty proposition

Chievo might have lost, but their fairy-tale season still lives on despite the massive disappointment of throwing away a 2-0 lead.

They remain top of the Serie A pile, but now just one point ahead of Inter.

It could so easily have been four.

Chievo survived early Verona pressure before Bernardo Corradi's effort was disallowed for high feet.

That spurred Chievo on and they took the lead when Brazilian winger Eriberto volleyed home a deep cross for the goal of the game.

And it was 2-0 when captain Eugenio Corini converted from the spot aftera handball.

Eugenio Corini is the Chievo captain
Corini celebrates after scoring for Chievo

But three minutes later Verona were back in it after a penalty of their own, Massimo Oddo dispatched the kick after Adrian Mutu was fouled.

The atmosphere in the stadium had now reached fever pitch.

Verona have always been the dominant club in this city - they were Serie A champions in 1984-85 - but now they were being challenged.

Consolation

Not only were little Chievo - the team owned by a family of Christmas cake makers who were still playing amateur football just 16 years ago - top of the table, but they were also threatening to win the first ever city derby in Serie A.

The Curva Sud where the hardcore Verona fans congregate were baying for Chievo's blood, and coach Alberto Malesani clearly made similar noises to his players at half-time.

Verona dominated the second half, as Chievo's notorious work ethic began to show signs of exhaustion.

Chievo top scorer Massimo Marazzina was dismissed for a wild foul and coach Luigi Del Neri urged his players to defend in numbers in an attempt to cling onto their lead.

Chievo coach Luigi Del Neri has led the surburban club to the top of Serie A
Chievo coach Luigi Del Neri contemplates defeat

Then with 19 minutes left came a savage blow.

Salvatore Lanna attempted a challenge on the edge of his own box, but only succeeded in firing the ball past his own keeper.

Chievo looked groggy on the ropes now, Lanna was inconsolable, and suddenly Verona looked favourites.

And just two minutes later came the inevitable, as Mauro Camoranesi beat the Chievo offside trap to complete a remarkable fightback for the "home" side of Hellas Verona.

Chievo twice came close in the closing stages in this extraordinary match.

Chievo still lead Serie A, while Verona are now just four points back in seventh place.

If you had told any inhabitant of Verona before the season began that that would be the case after 11 weeks, they would have said there was more chance of seeing a donkey fly.

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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