Sunday, 13 May 2007

Serie A Wk 36: Review

Sunday 13 May
Reggina 1-1 Chievo
Reggina and Chievo remained locked together in deep trouble after a tense relegation dogfight at the Stadio Oreste Granillo on Sunday afternoon. With sides around them winning, Reggina and Chievo are now joint third-bottom - one point away from safety. If that remains the case at the end of the season it's Chievo who will be doomed because of their inferior goal differance. The club from Verona led through Matteo Brighi's opener shortly after half-time but Rolando Bianchi quickly restored parity. However, in a desperately tight race to avoid joining Ascoli and Messina in Serie B there are two games left for both clubs to save themselves.

Siena 2-0 Empoli

Siena grabbed a crucial win over Tuscan rivals Empoli that lifts them out of the relegation zone one point clear with just two games to play. Last weekend Siena had dropped into the bottom three but their success against their neighbours was enough to pull them back out. Daniele Portanova opened the scoring early on for Siena and after UEFA Cup-chasing Empoli had been further hamstrung by the sending-off of Ighli Vannucchi there were still some tense moments for the home side. Massimo Maccarone ended any doubts about the outcome by scoring the second in stoppage time against the team with whom he started his career.

Fiorentina 1-0 Cagliari
Fiorentina have almost confirmed their place in next season's UEFA Cup with a narrow win over Cagliari which leaves the Sardinian's just one point clear of the relegation zone. Young striker Giampaolo Pazzini, filling in for injured talisman Luca Toni, grabbed the only goal of the game in the seventh minute as Fiorentina took advantage of defeats of sides around them as they climbed up to fifth. Not bad for a team who began the season with a 15-point deficit as a result of the club's involvement in the Calciopoli scandal.

Parma 4-1 Messina
Parma gave their survival hopes a major boost after scoring four times in a blistering first-half display to see off the challenge of already-relegated Messina. Giuseppe Rossi twice, Zlatan Muslimovic and Andrea Gasbarroni all struck in an extraordinary 11-minute spell at the Stadio Ennio Tardini to lift Claudio Ranieri's side two points clear of the drop zone with two games of the season left. Christian Rigano pulled one back for the visitors in the closing stages, but it could not take the gloss off a scintillating Parma performance.

Catania 1-1 Milan
The return to football in front of their fans for the first time in three months, albeit at a neutral venue in Bologna, was a happy one for struggling Catania, who managed to earn themselves a draw at home to Champions League finalists Milan. But it was not the ideal start after the visitors took an early lead courtesy of Clarence Seedorf, before hitting back through Gionatha Spinesi to earn a point that keeps them two points off the relegation places with two games remaining. The result means Milan confirm their place in the top four and a place in next season's Champions League preliminary stage although they would qualify automatically if they beat Liverpool in the final this season.

Roma 0-1 Torino
Roberto Muzzi scored the only goal to give Torino a massive boost in their bid for Serie A survival against Roma. The striker took full advantage of an error from Cristian Chivu early on to slot the ball home at the Stadio Olimpico and earn his team three points that sends them three points clear of the drop zone. Gianni De Biasi's side headed into the game knowing they could have fallen into the bottom three if they failed to win, but gave 100% as they managed to claim an all-important victory.

Livorno 1-0 Sampdoria
Livorno picked up a crucial three points in their battle against relegation by beating Sampdoria. Antonio Filippini scored the only goal of the game in the 71st minute to give the home side a deserved win in front of a large crowd at the Stadio Armando Picchi. The goal set Livorno President Aldo Spinelli's heart beating quickly and he needed medical treatment in the stands, and was unable to show his full delight at the final whistle. But his players celebrated a win which takes them three points clear of the relegation zone. The result means Samp miss out on a UEFA Cup place although they could still qualify through the Intertoto Cup.

Udinese 2-3 Atalanta
Veteran striker Cristian Vieri came off the bench to score a late winner as Atalanta twice came from behind to snatch a dramatic 3-2 victory against Udinese. Both sides were hoping to close the gap on a UEFA Cup place but it's Atalanta who have the best chance of cathing up with two games remaining. Asamoah Gyan put the home side in front on two ocassions with a goal in each half, but a penalty from Riccardo Zampagna on the stroke of half-time levelled the match at the break and Fernando Tissone grabbed a second equaliser with 16 minutes to go before Vieri struck four minutes from time. The win lifts the Bergamo club up to eighth in the table on 46 points, just three points away from the final UEFA Cup place held currently by Palermo. Udinese's hopes of playing European football ended for another season.

Ascoli 3-2 Palermo
Relegated Ascoli put a severe dent into Palermo's UEFA Cup ambitions with a fine victory at the Stadio Del Duca. Ascoli's Serie A fate was finally sealed last weekend with a single-goal defeat at Torino, but Nedo Sonetti's men had enough about them to overturn a half-time deficit and stun their Sicilian opponents on Sunday. Fabio Simplicio and Radoslaw Matusiak struck in the first half for the visitors, with Viktor Boudianski's effort for the hosts sandwiched between the two. The hosts turned the game on its head after the break through further goals from Michele Paolucci and Boudianski again, with Simplicio's late red card adding to the visitors' woes. Palermo's season has lost some of its lustre since the turn of the year but a place in the UEFA Cup would have been almost within touching distance if they had beaten their lowly opponents. The defeat, however, sees the Rosaneri slip a place to seventh and the final UEFA Cup spot - just three points ahead of Atalanta who are still chasing.

Inter 4-3 Lazio
Marco Materazzi headed a dramatic late winner for Inter after a Hernan Crespo hat-trick had helped the Serie A champions overturn a two-goal deficit to edge a seven-goal thriller against Lazio at the San Siro. Goran Pandev and Massimo Mutarelli had put the high-flying Biancocelesti two goals to the good within the opening four minutes, but Crespo double had the hosts level 10 minutes before half-time. Parity was retored for only two minutes, however, before Cristian Ledesma put Lazio back ahead. The visitors from the Eternal City held that advantage until the 81st minute, when Crespo again levelled before Materazzi notched the winner. Lazio's misery was compounded by the late dismissal of Sebastiano Siviglia for dissent. The result was a welcome return to winning ways for Roberto Mancini's team, who were crushed 6-2 by Roma in the first leg of the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday to all but end their hopes of a league and cup double. Despite the defeat Lazio have confirmed their place in next season's Champions League preliminary stage after clubs chasing behind dropped points.

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