Rafael imperious as Verona take point at Catania
Goalkeeper Rafael performed heroics to help Verona claim a share of the points in a scoreless draw away to Catania in Italy's Serie A on Saturday.
Verona travelled to the league's basement side looking to improve on their miserable away record this season and claim a win that would move them up to fifth ahead of Fiorentina.
However despite finding their stride in a more balanced second half Andrea Mandorlini's men were lucky not to be at least two goals down prior to the interval.
Only three minutes in Mariano Izco hit a long-distance drive which Rafael palmed out from under the bar.
The 'keeper then stopped Sebastian Leto from point-blank range and when the ball fell to Gino Peruzzi the defender hit his effort wide.
Lucas Castro then shot straight at the Brazilian 'keeper, who did well to palm away Pablo Alvarez's header from Pablo Barrientos's free kick.
Verona, looking to improve on their sole win away from home this season, did not get near the Catania goal until two minutes before the interval when Romulo's off-target shot from a perfect position was ruled offside.
Verona resumed in more positive fashion and Icelandic midfielder Emil Hallfredsson was unlucky to see his drive skim the Catania crossbar.
However the second half was a scrappy affair which was notable for several tussles between players, Pablo Barrientos scuffling with Luca Toni after both players got tangled and fell together in the Catania defensive area.
Toni was positioned perfectly to get on the end of Juan Iturbe's cross but the Argentinian striker hit a low angled drive instead which whistled past the far post.
At the other end Rafael blocked a Nicolas Spolli's snap shot at his near post, palmed away another Castro cross-shot and blocked a rasping drive from Keko.
Verona had a chance to snatch the win in the closing minutes however Iturbe pushed the ball too far in front as he ran down on goal and Verona 'keeper Alberto Frison was out quickly to smother.
Juventus will look to stretch their lead over Roma to six points when the champions host Sassuolo on Sunday. Roma travel to struggling Milan on Monday.