Sunday 18 May 2008

Serie A Week 38: Sunday Review

Internazionale secured their third straight Serie A title with a 2-0 win at Parma, a result that sends their opponents down. Catania's draw against Roma kept them up in the top-flight ahead of Empoli while Fiorentina qualified for the UEFA Champions League on a dramatic final day of the season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned after a two-month injury absence to fire Inter to the Serie A title with two second-half goals as they beat Parma 2-0. The Sweden striker came on at half-time, at which stage Roma were heading for the top of Serie A with the score in Parma still level. And, with goals in the 62nd and 79th minute, he led the Nerazzurri to their 16th Scudetto and their third in a row. Defeat for Parma sent them down to Serie B despite a spirited effort in difficult conditions. The home team had been lifted by the news that relegation rivals Catania had fallen behind to an early Roma goal, but when Inter scored the first goal, Parma's 18-year stay in the top-flight was over.

Roma's title dreams disappeared as they drew 1-1 at Catania - a result which secured the hosts' Serie A status. Catania fell behind in the eighth minute when Roma's Mirko Vucinic struck the back of the net but, after the hosts had hit the crossbar twice, Jorge Martinez finally notched a goal for the Sicilian outfit for a draw. Luciano Spalletti's Roma looked as if they might pip Inter to the Scudetto as, for much of the game while they were leading, the Nerazzurri were being held to a goalless draw at Parma. But Inter got two goals in the last half-hour of their match, which meant the result in Sicily had no bearing on the top of the table. Roma finished three points adrift of Inter while Catania held on to the last position of safety on the head-to-head record with Empoli.


Empoli were unable to avoid relegation despite a 2-1 victory over Tuscan rivals and already-relegated Livorno as Catania picked up the point they needed against Roma. Antonio Busce gave the hosts an early lead which was doubled in the second half by Luca Saudati, who also missed a penalty. Alessandro Diamanti pulled a late goal back for the visitors. The Empoli players left the field to applause for their efforts despite the news that they would be playing in Serie B next season.


Fiorentina sealed their place in the UEFA Champions League, but they were made to sweat en route to a 1-0 victory over Torino. With Milan winning against Udinese, a draw would not have been good enough because of the Rossoneri's superior head-to-head record. After a string of fine saves from Torino keeper Matteo Sereni it looked as if Cesare Prandelli's side would be denied but Pablo Osvaldo struck with 15 minutes remaining and the Viola held on to confirm their top-four finish.

AC Milan trounced Udinese 4-1 after falling a goal behind, but their efforts were in vain as they were denied the fourth and final Champions League spot by Fiorentina's win at Torino. Needing to win and hope the Viola dropped points, Milan were behind at half-time thanks to Giandomenico Mesto's goal just past the half-hour. But second-half goals from Alexandre Pato, Filippo Inzaghi, Marcos Cafu and Clarence Seedorf saw Milan cruise to a win which was rendered fruitless by events in Turin.


Despite losing 2-1 at Lazio, Napoli have finished eighth in Serie A and have qualified for the Intertoto Cup ahead of Genoa, who lost at Atalanta. Tommaso Rocchi beat the offside trap to put the hosts ahead in the 14th minute and Fabio Firmani doubled their lead in the 71st minute before Maurizio Domizzi grabbed one back for the visitors seven minutes from time. Lazio coach Delio Rossi celebrated the end-of-season victory but it could have been his last game in charge of the capital club.

Atalanta beat Genoa 2-0 with goals from Sergio Floccari and Michele Marconi, a result that ends Genoa's hopes of finishing in eighth-place and qualifying for the Intertoto Cup spot. With Napoli losing at Lazio, Genoa knew they would've only needed a point in Bergamo to finish ahead of the Azzurri. Flocari gave the hosts the lead on the half-hour mark while Marconi sealed the win in stoppage time.


Much-travelled veteran Nicola Amoruso rolled back the years to ensure that Reggina's Serie A season did not end in defeat as they drew 2-2 at Cagliari. He had been a threat all afternoon, equalising Joaquin Larrivey's opener for the home side before Reggina fell behind again to a Paolo Bianco strike. Amoruso popped up again with minutes to spare to see the game ended all square. Both sides secured Serie A safety last weekend and had nothing to play for in Sardinia.

A perfect start saw Siena beat their Serie A points record as Palermo's season limped to an end with a 2-2. Massimo Maccarone put the hosts in front with barely two minutes on the clock but Bosko Jankovic nabbed the equaliser in the 24th minute and Palermo took the lead six minutes later through Fabrizio Miccoli. Maccarone's second of the game shortly before the hour mark hauled his side level but the players then seemed happy to play out a draw as the second half was as drab as the first had been spectacular. Neither side had much to play for except pride although Siena, who equalled their best Serie A points haul of 43 with a an impressive 2-2 draw against Internazionale last week, were keen to set a new record.

[Saturday 17 May] - [Sunday 18 May]

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