Sunday, 27 May 2007

Chievo relegated on dramatic final day

Chievo's six-season stint in Serie A has ended with relegation after a thrilling final day. The Verona-based side lost 2-0 to Catania, while wins for Reggina, Siena and Parma meant the 'Flying Donkeys' were finally grounded.

It was cruel on Luigi Del Neri's side, who started the day 14th but plunged into the drop zone after all four teams directly below them won.

Chievo appeared safe until the 65th minute, when Fausto Rossini powered a header past Lorenzo Squizzi into the left corner of the net. Even then, it looked like they might survive with Siena drawing 1-1 against Lazio, but a late close-range Paolo Negro goal saved the Tuscan outfit.

Chievo started the season in the qualifying stages of the Champions League having moved up to fourth in the wake of the Calciopoli penalties handed out. But a poor run of form saw them fall into the relegation zone. Not even the return of Luigi Del Neri - the man who masterminded their initial success in the top flight - could save them.

Mauro Minelli sealed their fate 10 minutes from time, prodding into the roof of the net after Squizzi missed a cross. The result keeping the Sicilians in the top flight for another year.

Negro's late finish maintained Siena's top flight status, which had been threatened by a second-half Tommaso Rocchi penalty for Lazio that beat Alex Manninger and went in off the post. Massimo Maccarone had earlier opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

It was rather easier going for Reggina, who also needed a win but cruised at home to a Milan side still feeling the after-effects of their midweek Champions League success. Goals from Nicola Amoruso and Daniele Amerini made sure of the Southerners' Serie A status.

Parma completed their march to safety under Claudio Ranieri with a comprehensive 3-1 win against Empoli. Zlatan Muslimovic, Igor Budan and Andrea Gasbarroni were all on target for the Gialloblu.

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