Nani makes instant impact for Venezia in Empoli draw
Milan, Jan 16, 2022 (AFP) - Nani made an immediate impression on his Venezia debut after setting up the goal which gave his new team a 1-1 draw with Empoli on Sunday.
The former Manchester United and Portugal winger arrived as a free agent on Friday and came on in the 72nd minute with his team behind to Szymon Zurkowski's first-half strike.
Seconds later the 35-year-old rolled in David Okereke to fire home the leveller after playing a smart one-two with Mattia Aramu.
His entrance on the pitch gave Venezia an energy that they had lacked for most of the match, and Okereke would have had the winner three minutes later had Guglielmo Vicario not got down well to push away his powerful shot.
"It was a really good start, the team played well... We know it's an important period for us, we need to get as many points as possible," said Nani to DAZN.
"I was a bit worried because I haven't have many training sessions with the team and right now I'm not at my best physically but when you want to do something good you can."
However the draw means Venezia, who are winless in nine league matches, can finish the day in the relegation zone, as 18th-placed Cagliari will leapfrog them if they continue their recent revival by beating Roma in the Italian capital later on Sunday.
League leaders Inter Milan then face a tough test at Atalanta in the weekend's big match.
Empoli meanwhile sit 11th, one point behind Verona who earlier won an entertaining match at Sassuolo 4-2 thanks to Antonin Barak's hat-trick.
Barak was the beneficiary of a lucky ricochet to put Verona two ahead on the stroke of half-time after Gianluca Caprari had opened the scoring in the 37th minute for the away side.
The Czech midfielder netted from the penalty spot 20 minutes later, shortly after Gianluca Scamacca had halved the deficit for the hosts with his ninth goal of the season.
Substitute Gregoire Defrel then headed Sassuolo to within a goal of Verona in the 67th minute but Barak made absolutely sure of the points with a lovely dinked finish in stoppage time after being put through by Nikola Kalinic.