Parma beats out Torino, AC Milan for final Europa League spot in Serie A

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Incredible drama on the final day of Serie A saw Parma squeak past Torino and AC Milan for the final European spot in Italy’s top flight.

Torino’s Antonio Cerci had an injury-time penalty saved by Fiorentina goalkeeper Antonio Rosati, and the miss meant Parma safely finishes in sixth position with a victory over Livorno.

The goal would have seen Torino into Europe, as they began the day a point ahead of Parma, but they could only muster a 2-2 draw against Cerci’s old club.

All three of Torino, Parma, and AC Milan at one point in the 90 minutes had qualification in their control. For AC Milan, a disastrous five-minute stretch saw them go from leading the chase to bottom of the heap.

An early 2-0 lead over Sassuolo combined with a Torino one-goal deficit and Parma 0-0 scoreline meant Milan were in on goal differential by one.  However, early in the second halves Parma took the lead when Amauri scored just minutes after coming off the bench, and Torino leveled through Marcelo Larrondo also fresh out of the dugout.

That pair of goals meant that even Milan’s 2-1 victory wasn’t enough, and Parma finished on 58 points as Amauri ended with a brace. They complete the season one point above both Torino and Milan.

Meanwhile, Napoli pummeled five goals past Verona, giving them a total of 104 goals on the year in all competitions, a new club record.

With Gonzalo Higuain still injured, it was Duvan Zapata up front, and the Colombian didn’t disappoint with a brace, as well as two for Dries Mertens and a prize for Jose Callejon for the icing on the cake.

It wraps up a solid season for Napoli, who will be playing in the Champions League next year alongside Juventus and Roma after a comfortable third-place finish.

Elsewhere, Inter failed to win on the final day as they could be sending Walter Mazzarri out on a low note, falling to Verona 2-1. Mazzarri’s job could be in jeopardy as his side could only limp to a fifth place finish, a year after a ninth-place ending saw out Andrea Stramaccioni.

Lazio took out Bologna 1-0 as Lucas Biglia’s stoppage-time penalty locked in Lazio’s ninth-place finish.

Juventus ended their successful title run with a 3-0 win over Cagliari to put them over the century mark on the year, finishing on 102 points.

Roma, meanwhile, finished 17 points back in second place with a disappointing 1-0 loss at Genoa, with Ioannis Fetfatzidis scoring the winner seven minutes from full time.  They still finish with 85 points for their best table result in four years. Genoa end up in 14th.

Despite already being mathematically relegated, Catania went out on a high note with a 2-1 win over Atalanta.  Sassuolo’s loss to Milan makes relegation sting even more for Catania, as they finish the year just two points back in 18th. Atalanta ends up 11th, four back of the top 10.

Mourinho: Van Gaal left good team, but I brought belief

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Jose Mourinho and Manchester United are bringing happiness to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, or at least more of it.

The United boss says the club’s turnaround is emotionally-based, and that the cupboard certainly wasn’t bare when he took over the Red Devils last summer.

[ MORE: Fellaini red  had “a bit of acting” ]

United finished fifth in the Premier League last season, tied for fourth with Man City and 15 points back of Arsenal. Mourinho’s men sit in the same spot this year, but are in the semifinals of the Europa League, have won the League Cup, and have the door open to the Top Four.

So what’s different? Here’s the boss, from the BBC:

“I think Mr. Van Gaal left a good group of boys with very good relations between them.

“[But] I think they missed happiness, they missed trust, belief, this extra bit that brings resilience, brings fight and they have it [now].”

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster with the Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw drama, but — like any new manager — Mourinho did have to sort the club. Now we wonder whether he’ll keep it happy or hit a traditional rut by Year Three (assuming he gets there, and United should be very good next season).

Spurs confirm Wembley as 2017-18 home

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May 14 will indeed be the last time Tottenham Hotspur takes the field at White Hart Lane.

Club chairman Daniel Levy has announced that Spurs will play all of its 2017-18 home matches at Wembley Stadium, and that WHL will be demolished in the offseason.

Spurs have a new venue under construction next door to WHL, calling the venue “the heart” of regeneration plans in the region. From TottenhamHotspur.com:

“This marks a momentous day in our Club’s history as it is the day we formally agreed the demolition of our beloved White Hart Lane.

“The Lane means a huge amount to each and every one of us and we needed to gain greater certainty on the delivery of the new stadium before we made the final decision to commence with the decommissioning of our iconic, historic home for some 118 years.

‘We shall ensure that we give the Lane a fitting farewell when we play our last match here on May 14.”

West Ham’s final match at Upton Park was a memorable one last season, thanks not just to the off-field but the on-field as well. The Irons came back to beat Manchester United 3-2 on a Winston Reid goal.

With Manchester United coincidentally (?) serving as the visitor on May 14, with Top Four if not title implications likely still in play, sign us up for a comfortable seat in front of TV.

Pochettino: Derby matters, but this is about title not “Totteringham”

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Mauricio Pochettino is a focused boss, one many of us wouldn’t mind as our manager.

The longtime Espyanol man knows a thing or two about being relegated to second fiddle in town, with Catalan rivals Barcelona enveloping the spotlight 99 times out of 100.

That’s why he’s not even bothering with treating Arsenal and “St. Totteringham’s Day” — the Gunners’ annual celebration of clinching a spot above Spurs in the standings — like anything than a derby date.

“I really don’t think about which position Arsenal are in. My view and focus is to try to win every game and try to win the Premier League.

“For me (finishing above Arsenal) is not a motivation. The motivation for me is to win because it’s a derby and I know what it means to win a derby. My motivation is to try to win some titles with Tottenham, and my players improve every day and show we are better than the opposition.”

Spurs as a club is growing in big ways, and aiming to sit atop the Premier League standings every year. Yes Premier League derbies are important, but aiming to finish above a rival versus above all rivals is short-sighted. Pochettino’s got it right.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks – Week 35

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The Premier League games continue to come thick and fast with 10 matches on the slate this weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live ] 

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out.

[ STREAM: Premier League “Goal Rush”

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the longshots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

West Brom 2-0 Leicester City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Man United 2-0 Swansea City – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Middlesbrough 1-3 Man City – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM

Crystal Palace 3-1 Burnley – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM

DON’T TOUCH THIS… 

Stoke City 2-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Premier League Extratime) – [STREAM]

Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal – (Sunday, 11:30 am. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Sunderland 1-2 Bournemouth – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, CNBC) – [STREAM

Southampton 2-1 Hull City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Watford 2-1 Liverpool – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Everton 2-1 Chelsea – (Sunday, 9:05 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM