The Rosanero's highly talented Argentine recovered to score a crucial hat-trick against their rivals.Palermo won the first Sicilian derby of the season with a 3-1 win over Catania, courtesy of a hat-trick from the influential Javier Pastore at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in a match full of scoring chances.
The hosts had some good news at the start as Pastore, who was a major doubt to feature, recovered to play in the contest and was in the starting XI, as was captain Fabrizio Miccoli, who made his first start since recovering from a long-term injury.
Meanwhile, Catania had a number of key players missing, including Ciro Capuano, Pablo Ledesma, and Ezequiel Carboni. Coming into the match both sides were level on 14 points in the standings.
The match started at a slow pace, though Antonio Nocerino went down in the penalty area, but the referee waved play on as the midfielder went down rather easily under pressure.
Despite being on the back foot in the early part of the clash, Catania missed a golden chance to open the scoring. A long ball for Alejandor Gomez broke the offside trap and he flicked the ball over the defender before taking a strike from a tough angle, it was saved by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirgiu, though somehow Maxi Lopez failed to tuck away the rebound, firing over the net.
The Etnei were dangerous on the counter, as Maxi Lopez showed quick feet to dribble through three players, but no one was quick enough to get onto his dangerous cross.
Mariano Andujar made a miraculous save on Miccoli's volley, but the hosts did get one past the goalkeeper soon after. Armin Bacinovic chipped over the defence for full-back Federico Balzaretti's run, who put in a pinpoint cross for Pastore to head into the bottom corner and make it 1-0.
The first-half ended that way, with the visitors ruing some early missed opportunities.
The second-half started with two quick-fire goals. Christian Terlizzi scored against his former club by firing home the equaliser from a corner and showed respect by not celebrating. However, Pastore only took seconds to restore the lead as he fired hard and low under the goalkeeper on the break after being set up by Miccoli. It was 2-1 after 47 minutes.
Josip Ilicic should have given the team in pink their third goal on the hour mark, but after stealing the ball on his own half, he curled wide with the visitors' backline scrambling to get back into position.
Miccoli had run out of gas and was replaced by Massimo Maccarone for the last 25 minutes of the contest. The substitute somehow failed to put the game beyond doubt when the ball bobbled into his path and he missed a tap in.
Substitute Adrian Ricchiuti nearly made them pay for failing to score, as he controlled a long ball in the area and struck a vicious volley that cannoned back off the crossbar. Sirigu saved the result by blocking Ricchuiti's close ranger header after Giuseppe Mascara's corner as Marco Giampaolo's men poured forward in search of another equaliser.
Incredibly Sirigu nearly cost his side minutes later, being caught well out of his net and needing his defence to bail him out.
Pastore put the result to bed on 85 minutes, completing his hat-trick. Ilicic's long pass sparked the counter and Maccarone held off the defender before squaring for the on-rushing Pastore, who easily slotted the ball home to spark the celebrations as the clash ended 3-1 and Palermo overcame the disappointment of the midweek loss to Milan. Meanwhile, the hat-trick hero's price tag continued to sky rocket.
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