Sunday, 20 May 2007

Serie A Wk 37: Review

Fiorentina, Palermo and Empoli secured their UEFA Cup positions as Inter held Atalanta in Bergamo. Reggina's comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Empoli means five teams risk relegation on the final day of the season. Catania, Chievo, Parma, Reggina and Siena will fight against the final relegation spot next Sunday, while Cagliari, Livorno and Torino can celebrate survival.

Saturday 19 May
Milan 2-3 Udinese
Udinese took full advantage of a second-string Milan team by winning an entertaining encounter 3-2 at the San Siro on Saturday. With Wednesday's all-important European Champions League final against Liverpool in mind, coach Carlo Ancelotti opted to rest most of his stars and opposite number Alberto Malesani saw his side flourish. The hosts twice fought back with Yoann Gourcuff and Alessandro Costacurta's penalty cancelling out strikes from Gyan Asamoah and Antonio Di Natale, but Paulo Barreto netted the winner on the hour mark. But the result will not do much to upset Ancelotti, whose mind is cast on the final match in Athens in four days time that is set to define their season.

Sunday 20 May
Empoli 3-3 Reggina
Reggina's Serie A status is hanging by a thread but if they do escape the drop next week they will long remember how they came from three goals down to draw 3-3 with Empoli on the penultimate Sunday of the season. The draw means that instead of being third bottom going into the last week they are level on points with 18th-placed Siena and just above them as they have a far better goal difference than the Bianconeri. Ighli Vannucchi, Davide and Luca Saudati gave Empoli a 3-0 lead inside 23 minutes. Luca Vigiani began the revival after the break and then two goals including a penalty from Nicola Amoruso completed the comeback. Reggina, who host Champions League finalists Milan in their last match, would have normally been safe already were it not for an 11-point deduction for their part in the Calciopoli scandal but Siena could yet come to regret the single-point penalty for missing a tax deadline. The draw also saw Empoli clinch a historic UEFA Cup spot for next season.

Palermo 2-1 Siena
Siena will be fearing the worst after dropping into the bottom three going into the last week of the season with a reverse at the hands of Palermo. First-half goals from Eugenio Corini and Andrea Caracciolo gave the Sicilians a 2-0 lead with Massimo Maccarone grabbing a stoppage-time consolation for the men from Tuscany. With Ascoli and Messina having already been condemned to Serie B there is still one relegation berth up for grabs and it's currently occupied by Siena with just one game left to save themselves - at home to Lazio next Sunday. The result confirms Palermo's spot in the UEFA Cup.

Sampdoria 1-0 Catania
Catania's fate will go down to the final day of the season after the relegation-threatened Sicilians lost at Sampdoria. Pasquale Marino's side battled hard at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, despite being outplayed for long periods, but were eventually undone by Cristian Zenoni's goal 20 minutes into the second half. The result leaves Catania fearing for their Serie A future. They are just one point and two places above the relegation zone heading into the final game of the season next weekend when they meet fellow strugglers Chievo at the neutral venue of Bologna.

Chievo 1-0 Ascoli
Chievo pulled clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory over already-relegated Ascoli in Verona. Michele Marcolini got the only goal of the game two minutes before half-time to lift Chievo all the way to 14th place. At least a draw on the final day of the season against Catania in the neutral venue of Bologna would secure their Serie A status.

Lazio 0-0 Parma
Parma added another point to their magnificent run under coach Claudio Ranieri but it was not enough to secure their top flight status of the club for another season. The goalless draw at the Stadio Olimpico against high-fliers Lazio has left the Emiliani on 39 points - two clear of third-bottom Siena - heading into the final week of the season. Parma host Empoli next week still needing a result.

Cagliari 3-2 Roma
A brace of goals from Davide Marchini handed Cagliari a massive three points against Roma. Heading into the game, the relegation-haunted hosts were in 16th place and only a point above the danger-zone, but Marchini's double coupled with results elsewhere, lifted them away from the relegation area. David Suazo had fired them into an early lead, but the Giallorossi, who were crowned Coppa Italia winners on Thursday, hit back courtesy of a Francesco Totti penalty. But on-loan Marchini had the final say scoring in the 39th and 67th minutes at the Stadio San Elia, before Totti grabbed his 200th career goal late on, but it was too late as Marco Giampaolo's men secured Serie A safety for another season.

Torino 0-0 Livorno
A point was enough for both teams to secure their top flight status as Torino and Livorno shared the spoils after a tense goalless draw at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin. The draw moves both teams three points clear of the drop zone with one game left to play. And with two of the teams below them, Chievo and Catania, meeting next weekend and only one relegation place still to be filled, their total of 40 points is enough for survival.

Messina 2-2 Fiorentina
Already-relegated Messina struck twice in the last eight minutes to snatch a point against Fiorentina, but the result was enough for the visitors to secure a UEFA Cup spot next season. The Viola looked to be on course for a routine victory after they went two up with Giampaolo Pazzini scoring a first half penalty and Alessandro Gamberini adding a second goal just before the hour mark. But there was a sting in the tail as Christian Rigano made amends for an earlier penalty miss by grabbing two late goals, one from the spot, to help the Sicilians salvage some pride in their penultimate game in Serie A.

Atalanta 1-1 Inter
Atalanta continued their strong finish to the Serie A season holding champions Inter to a draw in Bergamo, but the result wasn't enough for their UEFA Cup hopes. Adriano Pinto gave them an early lead at the Stadio Azzurri d'Italia, before they were pegged back by a 48th-minute Luis Figo penalty. Roberto Mancini's men missed out on the domestic double in midweek despite a 2-1 win over Roma in the second-leg of the Coppa Italia final at the the San Siro, which fell well short of their 6-2 first-leg deficit. But the point should please the coach after seeing his team fight from a goal down as they aim to close out the season on a high. After Fiorentina, Palermo and Empoli snatched the three UEFA Cup spots, Atalanta will be hoping to join them in Europe by securing an Intertoto Cup position next week.

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