Sunday, 9 May 2010

Serie A - Week 37: Sunday Review

The Serie A title race will go down to the final weekend of the season with Inter taking a two-point advantage after they edged Chievo 4-3 and Roma overcame Cagliari 2-1. The battle for the fourth Champions League place will also go to the wire after Sampdoria, in fourth, drew 1-1 at rivals Palermo. At the other end, Atalanta joined Siena and Livorno in being relegated to Serie B.

Inter 4-3 Chievo
Inter survived a second-half fightback from Chievo to win 4-3 and remain on course for their fifth successive Scudetto. Jose Mourinho's side headed into the penultimate round of Serie A fixtures holding a two-point lead over Roma and after their rivals came from behind to beat Cagliari 2-1 at home, will take that same advantage into next weekend's final round. Despite Thiago Motta's own goal after 11 minutes, Inter looked to be coasting to victory after an own goal by Andrea Mantovani and strikes from Esteban Cambiasso, Diego Milito and Mario Balotelli. However, Pablo Granoche and Sergio Pellicier pulled the Flying Donkeys back to 4-3 at San Siro as the visitors threatened to spoil the party. Inter held on, though, and remain in the driving seat as they bid to retain the Serie A title.

Roma 2-1 Cagliari
Francesco Totti kept alive Roma's Serie A title hopes with two late goals as they beat Cagliari 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Trailing 1-0 after substitute Andrea Lazzari's 73rd-minute strike, Totti hit back with two goals - the second from the penalty spot - as Roma snatched a win. The result has left Roma trailing leaders Inter by two points heading into the final week of the campaign. Should Inter fail to win at already-relegated Siena next Sunday, Roma will be guaranteed the title should they beat Chievo in Verona due to their superior head-to-head record.

Palermo 1-1 Sampdoria
Sampdoria moved to within touching distance of a place in the UEFA Champions League next season by drawing 1-1 with their only rivals for fourth spot, Palermo. The Blucerchiati went ahead thanks to a penalty from Giampaolo Pazzini after 54 minutes, but another penalty from Fabrizio Miccoli after 68 minutes levelled the score and meant the decision over who will be joining Inter, Roma and Milan in the Champions League next season was postponed until next week's final day. Anything less than a win for Samp at home to Napoli will leave Palermo with a chance to snatch fourth spot with a win at Atalanta.

Napoli 2-0 Atalanta
Atalanta were relegated from Serie A after falling to yet another defeat, but Napoli could look forward to UEFA Europa League football as a 2-0 victory secured the automatic sixth place for them. Fabio Quagliarella scored late in each half as Napoli cruised to a straightforward victory which, combined with Juve's defeat at home by Parma, means they cannot now be caught by the Old Lady.

Genoa 1-0 AC Milan
Genoa ended their season at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris with a narrow 1-0 win over AC Milan, although their fans were unable to share in their team's celebrations. The game was played behind closed doors due to the fear of crowd violence and the Genoa supporters missed seeing their team return to winning ways thanks to a 57th-minute goal from Giuseppe Sculli. To compound Milan's misery, Mathieu Flamini saw red late on for a second bookable offence. The home side had the better of the game, but the win proved too little too late as they had already lost all hope of playing in Europe next season while, despite the defeat, Milan secure third place.

Juventus 2-3 Parma
Juventus will finish a disappointing Serie A campaign in seventh place after they suffered a 3-2 defeat in their final home game against Parma. Veteran striker Alessandro Del Piero had fired the hosts ahead but a double from Davide Lanzafame before the break and a third from Jonathan Biabiany ensured an underwhelming final game at the Stadio Olimpico. Vincenzo Iaquinta pulled back a goal in injury time, but it was scant consolation. The defeat meant Juve will now have to go through the qualifying rounds of the Europa League next season with a four-point gap behind sixth-placed Napoli, and just next weekend's trip to Milan to come, too much of a margin to bridge.

Livorno 1-2 Lazio
Lazio left a controversial week behind by winning 2-1 at relegated Livorno to secure their Serie A status for next season. Cristiano Lucarelli's 33rd-minute goal cancelled out Lazio captain Tommaso Rocchi's opener. Christian Brocchi then scored on the stroke of half-time and the Romans held on for a vital win. The result lifted the Biancoceleste into 15th place - eight points clear of the drop zone heading into the final week of Serie A.

Bologna 1-1 Catania
Bologna and Catania played out an entertaining 1-1 draw on the day both sides sealed their Serie A survival for another season. The two clubs knew a draw would be enough to beat the drop, and that is exactly what they served up as Maxi Lopez's second-half leveller cancelled out Marco Di Vaio's opener for the hosts. In the end the result was academic with Atalanta, the last team who could overhaul either side, going down to a 2-0 defeat at Napoli.

Udinese 3-3 Bari
Udinese's Antonio Di Natale scored his 100th Serie A goal and took his season's tally to 28 but Bari substitute Sergio Almiron grabbed a 90th-minute equaliser in an entertaining 3-3 draw at the Stadio Friuli. Di Natalie and Simon Pepe were on target for the hosts but goals from Paulo Barreto, who also missed a penalty, and Vladimir Koman left the way clear for Almiron's dramatic leveller.

Fiorentina 1-1 Siena
Fiorentina played out a 1-1 draw with relegated Tuscan rivals Siena in their final home game of a disappointing Serie A season. Both goals came in the opening 16 minutes with Simone Vergassola putting the visitors ahead and Marco Marchionni levelling for the visitors. Siena came closest to snatching all three points as Marcelo Larrondo hit the post two minutes from the end.

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