The relegation race is all but complete following the conclusion of Week 36 of the Serie A season.
Palermo, languishing in 18th place before Wednesday, faced red-hot Udinese, a team that had won their fifth game in a row on Sunday afternoon against Sampdoria. The Zebrette were also undefeated in their last six and were just a point behind Roma for the fifth and final European spot. A win would catapult them over Roma into the Europa League place.
Fortunately for Francesco Guidolin’s side and unfortunately for the Sicilians, the Bianconeri won the match 3-2 in a rollercoaster of a game. Comebacks, tying goals, the game had it all. Palermo came out ready to attack, but the Zebrette took the lead thanks to Luis Muriel’s 10th goal of the season. The Colombian skipped past Andrea Dossena before cutting in from the left and unleashed a powerful strike.
However the Rosanero managed to get something from their positive start in the 34th minute. Fabrizio Miccoli was taken down in the penalty area by Thomas Heurtaux for a penalty. The captain fired his shot off the crossbar and into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Palermo came out raring to go for the second half and nearly took the lead in the 49th minute when Josip Ilicic found Barreto in the box. The Paraguayan squared a pass for Miccoli and despite being in a favourable position, the striker mishit the ball and sent it over the goal and out.
Just like in the first half, Udinese’s first chance came on the counter as they were gifted a spot kick in the 54th minute when Salvatore Aronica raised both arms off a corner and touched the ball in the area. Thankfully for the defender, Sorrentino denied Antonio Di Natale with a diving leg save to keep the match level.
However the home fans were silenced in the 64th minute when Gabriele Angella thundered home a header from a Di Natale corner to give the Zebrette a 2-1 lead.
It was nearly 3-1 only six minutes later when substitute Piotr Zielinski made a lethal run down the centre of the pitch before laying off a pass for Emmanuel Badu who thumped the post after a close range shot.
Palermo found an equalizer with just under ten minutes remaining as Abel Hernandez let loose a thunderous left footed effort from outside the box that Brkic could do nothing to stop, reinvigorating the home supporters.
However the good news only lasted for two minutes as Udinese retook the lead in the 83rd after Sorrentino could not control a low drive from Muriel. The scramble fell to Mehdi Benatia who calmly slotted the go-ahead goal into a gaping net. Thanks to that defeat, Palermo’s now four points away from safety with two matches left. Considering that they face Fiorentina in their next fixture followed by Parma, it’ll be a tough ask for them to stay up.
Other talking points
- Genoa did their job by getting a 0-0 draw against Torino at the Stadio Olimpico. Despite winning just three games in 2012, the Grifone may have just done enough to stay in Serie A for at least another season. Torino, meanwhile, are now mathematically safe with two games remaining.
- Siena succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to visiting Fiorentina in the Tuscan derby. They’re now six points behind 17th place Genoa, meaning they’re all but relegated along with Pescara, and most likely Palermo.
- At the top of the table, Napoli are also guaranteed a spot in the Champions League group stage after brushing aside Bologna 3-0. The Partenopei will finish second in the table.
- AC Milan are also very close to clinching a spot in the top three. Their 4-0 demolition of Pescara maintains their four point lead over Fiorentina, who are currently fourth. The Rossoneri’s final two opponents are Roma and Siena, all they need is another victory or a draw, depending on how Fiorentina does in either of their remaining fixtures.
- Chievo’s last minute strike away to Roma put a damper on the Giallorossi’s European hopes. The visitors emerged victorious 1-0 thanks to Cyril Thereau’s heroics.
- Inter’s poor season continued with a 3-1 home loss against Lazio. The Nerazzurri have now lost seven of their last 10 matches, and, for the first time in 14 years, the Milanese side won’t be taking part in any European competition.
Other results: Atalanta 0-1 Juventus; Cagliari 0-1 Parma; Sampdoria 1-1 Catania