Shon Weissman scored on his Serie A debut for Salernitana, but M’Baye Niang converted a late penalty and set up Matteo Cancellieri to give Empoli a potentially crucial relegation dogfight victory.
This was a head-to-head between the bottom two in the table, both trying to change their campaigns following a change of coach. The hosts started five January signings, including Jerome Boateng and Marco Pellegrino, with Federico Fazio, Norbert Gyomber and Triantafyllos Pasalidis injured, while the visitors had Sebastian Walukiewicz suspended, Francesco Caputo, Razvan Marin and Tyronne Ebuehi not fully fit.
Boateng made a crucial block on Szymon Zurkowski when clear on goal, not realising the Empoli midfielder was offside.
Antonio Candreva had penalty appeals, but Bartosz Bereszynski used his strength well as the veteran tried to cut inside him on the counter-attack.
Empoli took the lead when Niccolò Cambiaghi cut inside from the left and curled a right-footed cross-shot, as it took a massive deflection off Alessandro Zanoli’s head to loop over Guillermo Ochoa into the far top corner.
Alberto Cerri wasted a promising counter-attack after Domagoj Bradaric was robbed, while Boulaye Dia on his return to the starting XI turned and drilled inches wide from 12 yards.
Niccolò Pierozzi went off injured, so Israeli international Shon Weissman made his Serie A debut for Salernitana.
Elia Caprile made a stunning one-handed save to fingertip the Giorgos Kastanos volley out from under the bar just before half-time.
Weissman hit a fresh-air shot from 10 yards on the Bradaric cross, Dia also mistiming his attempt from a promising position.
Liberato Cacace curled just off target from outside the box, but Salernitana equalised when Candreva whipped in a cross from the right flank and Ardian Ismajli was caught out by the Weissman header from 10 yards on his Serie A debut.
Jacopo Fazzini earned a penalty after nutmegging Pellegrino and tripping over the Milan-owned defender’s foot. After seemingly trying to take it, Cancellieri was convinced to step aside at the last second so that Niang could convert on his debut in the Empoli jersey.
Salernitana poured forward in stoppages, but Pellegrino gave it away cheaply to spark a counter-attack, Niang’s slide-rule pass sending Matteo Cancellieri forward to turn Lorenzo Pirola inside out and beat Ochoa one-on-one.
The result leaves Salernitana increasingly isolated at the foot of the table.
Salernitana 1-3 Empoli
Zanoli og 24 (E), Weissman 69 (S), Niang pen 88 (E), Cancellieri 94 (E)