Sunday, 27 May 2007

Serie A Wk 38: Review

Sunday 27 May
Catania 2-0 Chievo
Chievo's six-year stay in Serie A has been a fairytale butit ended in tears on the final day of the season as they were relegated from the top flight after losing 2-0 to fellow strugglers Catania in Bologna. Goals from substitutes Fausto Rossini and Mauro Minelli ensured the Sicilians prevailed but Chievo would have still stayed up had any of their other three relegation rivals - Siena, Reggina and Parma - slipped up. A glance at the table at the start of play would have suggested that Chievo were the most unlikely team to join Ascoli and Messina in Serie B of the five still in contention to go down. But while Siena, Reggina and Parma were all playing and would beat teams who had already achieved their objectives for the season, Chievo were playing a Catania team that had to win to be sure of staying up. The Sicilians kept their nerve and Chievo drop to Serie B under the leadership of Luigi Del Neri, the man who inspired their fabled climb to the top flight back in 2001.

Siena 2-1 Lazio
Paulo Negro struck with five minutes left to give Siena a crucial 2-1 win over his former side on Sunday and secure their top flight survival on the last day of the season. The veteran defender added to Massimo Maccarone's penalty midway through the first half to lift Mario Beretta's team - who had started the day in the bottom three on goal difference - up to 15th in the table and leave them safe by a single point. Tommaso Rocchi had threatened to give Siena reason to rue their one-point deduction at the start of the season for a late social security payment when he hit an equaliser from the spot 17 minutes from time. While the win was met with jubilation at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, it was greeted with devastation in Verona, as Chievo's defeat away to Catania meant they took Siena's spot in the drop zone.

Reggina 2-0 Milan
Reggina beat newly-crowned European champions AC Milan 2-0 to avoid relegation from Serie A. Nicola Amoruso opened the scoring in the eighth minute before substitute Daniele Amerini doubled the advantage shortly after the hour mark. The outcome allowed the Amaranto to finish 14th in the standings, one point clear of Chievo, who drop to Serie B after their 2-0 defeat at Catania. Accustomed to battle since the start of the campaign - when they were handed an 11-point deduction for their part in the Calciopoli scandal - Walter Mazzarri's men went into the last game of the campaign level on points with Siena, and therefore needing a result to avoid the drop. The hosts were given a helping hand with Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti resting his top stars after their midweek Champions League success against Liverpool in Athens.

Parma 3-1 Empoli
Parma completed their amazing fightback from the brink of relegation as a 3-1 victory over Empoli saved them from the drop. When Claudio Ranieri took over the Gialloblu in February, they looked destined to be playing Serie B football next season. However, goals from Zlatan Muslimovic, Igor Budan and Andrea Gasbaronni helped give them the win which meant they finished three points clear of the drop in 12th place. Luca Saudati grabbed the only goal for Empoli, who had already been assured of a UEFA Cup place going into the match.

Inter 3-0 Torino
Champions Inter signed off a remarkable season with yet another win to take their victory total to a record-breaking 30 and their points total to a European-high 97 against Torino at the San Siro. A Marco Materazzi penalty in the first half, a Maicon strike and a Luis Figo penalty after the break gave the hosts a 3-0 win which saw them surpass Chelsea's 95-point haul achieved in 2005. The win maintained Roberto Mancini's side's 22-point lead over second-placed Roma, while struggling Torino, whose Serie A status was already secure after a draw with Livorno last weekend, finished 17th, one place and one point above the drop zone. Inter finally celebrated the title success following the win as they were handed the Scudetto trophy.

Roma 4-3 Messina
Francesco Totti secured the Serie A Golden Boot as he helped fire Roma to a 4-3 victory over relegated Messina in a thrilling final-day encounter. The Roma captain grabbed two goals and even missed a penalty as he took his tally for the season to 26 to become the 2007 Capocannoniere, also moving ahead of Heerenveen's Afonso Alves in the race for the European award. However, all credit match must go to Messina, who despite already being relegated and having nothing but pride to play for, put in a strong display to give outgoing coach Bruno Bolchi a fitting send-off. In the 67-year-old's last game in charge, Christian Rigano put Messina in front, only for Totti and Mancini to hit back for Roma. Rigano equalised in the second half, but Totti put Roma back in front before Nicolas Cordova once again drew Messina level. With six minutes remaining Aleandro Rosi gave Roma the win, but Bolchi could have been proud of his players as they gave everything in what was essentially a meaningless game, with Roma already guaranteed second place.

Fiorentina 5-1 Sampdoria
Fiorentina wrapped up their Serie A campaign in emphatic style with a five-star performance against Sampdoria at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. A brace from Reginaldo Ferreira added to goals from Adrian Mutu, Riccardo Montolivo and Giampaolo Pazzini sent the Viola to a final-day frenzy that capped a hugely successful campaign. The only goal for the visitors came through Fabio Quagliarella, but it proved to be only a consolation as Walter Novellino's Samp ended the season in ninth. On the other hand, opposite number Cesare Prandelli's side were widely backed to struggle this term after their massive 15-point deduction at the start of the season due to the Calciopoli scandal. However, Prandelli managed to work wonders as the Florence club managed to end in fifth place and secure a UEFA Cup place for next year. Third place and the Champions League would have been their reward without the deduction.

Udinese 1-2 Palermo
Palermo secured a final day 2-1 victory over Udinese to secure a fifth place finish. The Sicilians, Fiorentina and Empoli will all play in the UEFA Cup although for much of the season it had looked as though Palermo might qualify for the Champions League. A place in the UEFA Cup is some consolation for the fans at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. The visitors began the brighter of the two sides and opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Andrea Caracciolo. Alberto Malesani's Udinese were able to level matters seven minutes later through midfielder Tomas Sivok but the visitors secured the three points through captain Eugenio Corini.

Livorno 4-2 Atalanta
Livorno finished a tough Serie A campaign in style as they enjoyed a 4-2 win over Atalanta. Having finally secured their Serie A status last week, the pressure was off for Livorno and it showed as they threw caution to the wind going forward. All but one of the goals came in a frantic second half. Cristiano Lucarelli put Livorno ahead on the stroke of half-time and Stefano Morrone added another a minute after the break. Ricardo Zampagna bundled in the rebound of his own missed penalty in the 51st minute to get one back for Atalanta but Lucarelli replied from the penalty spot. Davide Bombardini got one more back from the visitors, but Paulinho had the last word for Livorno six minutes from time.

Ascoli 2-1 Cagliari
Doomed Ascoli kissed goodbye to Serie A with a pyrrhic 2-1 victory over a weakened Cagliari. Cagliari boss Marco Giampaolo, with his club safe from relegation, had left several key players at home and gave some youth team prospects a chance for the last Serie A match to be played at the Stadio Del Duca for the foreseeable future. One of them, Marco Mancosu, opened the scoring for the visitors from Sardinia but Andrea Soncin quickly equalised for Ascoli. Michele Paolucci scored a late winner for the relegated club and both teams ended the game with 10 men as Ascoli's Stefano Lombardi and Cagliari's Jose Vitor Semedo were dismissed.

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