Sunday, 6 May 2007

Serie A Wk 35: Review

Sunday 6 May
Messina 0-1 Inter
Hernan Crespo's second-half goal secured another three points for champions Inter on Sunday afternoon and condemned Messina to Serie B football next season. The Argentina frontman made an immediate impact after coming off the bench, scoring 19 minutes from time to maintain the Nerazzurri's already unassailable advantage at the summit. The goal was a bitter blow for the home side, for whom Arturo Di Napoli's penalty had been saved by Francesco Toldo only few minutes earlier. Messina are now 10 points adrift of the last position of safety with only three games remaining. The Sicilians had expected to play this season in Serie B following their bottom three finish last season, but Juve's demotion gave them a reprieve. [Messina relegated to Serie B]

Torino 1-0 Ascoli

Ascoli's Serie A fate was also sealed with a single-goal defeat at Torino, who edged two points clear of the drop zone. After two troubled seasons in the top-flight, Nedo Sonetti's side drop back down to Serie B after their relegation was finally mathematically confirmed. The win could prove crucial for the Turin side who move up to 14th place on 36 points, although it is still realistic that any of the sides in the bottom half of the league could fall into the third and final relegation place, with just three games remaining. The Bianconeri were surprisingly handed a place in the top flight a few weeks before the start of the 2005-06 season after Torino went bankrupt in Serie B. [Ascoli relegated to Serie B]

Atalanta 3-1 Siena
Siena occupy the final relegation spot as their alarming late-season slide continued with a 3-1 defeat at Atalanta - their third straight loss. The Tuscan club had only themselves to blame at the Stadio Azzurri D'Italia as they missed an early penalty and had two players sent off late on. Luca Ariatti put Atalanta ahead after 12 minutes before Daniele Corvia wasted a chance to level with a penalty miss in the 33rd minute. Simone Vergassola did equalise with another spot-kick three minutes into the second half, but a wonder goal from Christian Vieri and a late Morris Carrozzieri header won it for Atalanta. The visitors' misery was complete when Valerio Bertotto and Do Carmo Nieto Alberto both saw red in the final seconds. Seina are one point from safety and just three points away from 11th-placed Cagliari - as the whole bottom half of the Serie A table look to fight against relegation.

Chievo 1-0 Parma
Sergio Pellissier's early goal helped Chievo climb out of the relegation zone and plunge Parma right back into the survival dogfight. The result means Claudio Ranieri's side are now only a point outside the relegation zone on 35 points, while Chievo moved above their visitors on goal difference.

Cagliari 2-1 Udinese
Cagliari secured three precious points in their battle for Serie A survival with a hard-fought win over 10-man Udinese. Sulley Muntari drew first blood for Udinese with a goal one minute before the interval, but Davide Marchini fired the hosts level midway through the second period. The Bianconeri's chances of taking all the points took a knock after 80 minutes when Vincenzo Iaquinta received a straight red for violent conduct, and Cagliari substitute Andrea Capone made the visitors pay as he popped up with the winner five minutes from time. The victory snaps Cagliari's three-game winless streak, although they remain just three points above the relegation zone and face tricky fixtures against Fiorentina and Roma between now and the end of the season. Meanwhile Udinese's hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Cup look over as they are now 8 points away from seventh-placed Fiorentina.

Sampdoria 0-0 Reggina
Sampdoria's faint hopes of clinching a UEFA Cup spot also suffered a blow when they were held to a goalless draw by Reggina at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Walter Novellino's side are now five points adrift of the final European berth available in Serie A. Reggina, meanwhile, lie just one point above the drop zone with three games remaining. Walter Mazzarri's side would actually have the same number of points as Samp if they had not started the season with an 11-point penalty for their part in the Calciopoli scandal.

Empoli 2-1 Catania
Surprise high-fliers Empoli have taken another step towards the UEFA Cup next season, while Catania are still sweating over their top-flight status after a hard-fought win at the Stadio Carlo Castellani. Two goals in three first-half minutes from young striker Nicola Pozzi and Argentinian midfielder Segio Almiron put the home side 2-0 up, and even though the visitors pulled one back through Gionatha Spinesi, Empoli held on for victory. The home side need just two points from their remaining games to secure European football next season while, Catania are just three points claer of the relegation zone.

Lazio 1-0 Livorno
Lazio climbed to third in the Serie A table by edging out Livorno 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. Luis Jimenez's 27th-minute strike allowed the Eternal City outfit to return to winning ways having failed take all three points from any of their previous four encounters. The outcome means the Biancoceleste, who climbed one point above AC Milan in the table, need just one point to secure a Champions League place.

Milan 0-0 Fiorentina
Champions League hero Kaka missed a first-half penalty as Milan were held to a goalless draw by Fiorentina at the San Siro. Kaka, who terrorised the Manchester United defence in Wednesday's 3-0 win, saw his 26th-minute spot-kick come back off the post after Fiorentina defender Alessandro Gamberini had handled the ball inside the area. The result sees Milan drop to fourth in Serie A. With three games remaining, the Rossoneri need just 2 points to secure Champions League football for next season

Palermo 1-2 Roma
Roma sealed second place in Serie A and an automatic place in next year's Champions League after first-half goals from Francesco Totti and Marco Cassetti proved enough to take the points at Palermo. The hosts pulled a goal back late on through Giovanni Tedesco, but it proved little more than a consolation. The Sicilians were knocked down into sixth spot by the defeat but they need just three points to secure UEFA Cup football next season.

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