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

1 Comment

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.

Yaya Toure talks future, wants to play with Paul Pogba

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There is very little debate: Yaya Toure is his own special case.

The longtime Manchester City midfielder does what he wants, flies his own flag, has the worst agent in the game, and is pleased or dismayed in unusual ways.

[ UCL: What would Real 3-peat mean? ]

Toure, 35, has been linked with a move to NYCFC now that he’s leaving Man City, but the Ivorian still wants to play two more seasons for a Champions League or Europa League club.

And he wants to get together with Paul Pogba. You can see where this is going… (from The Manchester Evening News):

“Pogba is the same size, power – but different in the way he wants to go. Technically as well, the ability to score goals as well. It is a player I want to play with, to be honest, just to teach him some things.”

That must mean both are going to Paris Saint-Germain because… Yaya at Manchester United? No way, right? Right? Even with last year’s reports from his — again — terrible agent that it was an option, that still seems too villainous.

“I don’t rule big teams out. The big teams are very important for me. What they want to achieve, the way they want to go, for me is very important. … I want to go somewhere I can win and achieve. It’s going to be hard one day to play against City, but I have to do that. It is part of my job.”

Toure later said he was “no good in an office,” which had us thinking, well, what if they properly celebrated your birthday, Yaya?

WATCH: Miami United midfield unleashes Open Cup laser

@USSoccer
Leave a comment

Tomas Granitto, have yourself an extra plate at the postgame buffet.

The Miami United midfielder scored a gorgeous goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over fellow NPSL side Jacksonville Armada in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

Complete with aesthetically-pleasing post-ping, the former El Salvador U-20 player laid into a 25-yard shot to open the scoring in Florida.

Granitto, 24, has played for Timbers 2, Swope Park Rangers, FC Edmonton, since leaving NCAA side Florida Gulf Coast.

Rondon wanted by Atleti, Inter Milan, and West Ham

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The big boys are looking to Salomon Rondon as a bargain striker.

Yes, $22 million is a bargain in the striker market these days.

[ MORE: Napoli hires Ancelotti ]

West Brom’s Venezuelan international, 28, stands 6’2″ and has a relegation release clause that is reportedly interesting Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, and West Ham United.

Atleti and Inter are in the Champions League next season, but Rondon played for new West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga, posting 25 league goals in two seasons.

He’s scored 24 goals in three Premier League seasons at West Brom, almost a quarter of the 104 produced by the Baggies.

He also picked up three assists this season as the target man for Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, and Darren Moore (and was fouled more often than any other Baggie (Baggy?)).

Rondon and Marko Arnautovic next to each other would be a real handful for PL defenses. Then again, maybe he’ll stay loyal to West Brom and set the Championship scoring record next season.

Three German organizers of 2006 World Cup indicted for tax evasion

Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Three German organizers of the 2006 World Cup have been charged with tax evasion linked to a payment to FIFA.

German news agency dpa reported that Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R. Schmidt confirmed Wednesday they are indicted by Frankfurt prosecutors in a long-running investigation.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

They are accused of falsifying tax returns on behalf of the Germany soccer federation (DFB) in 2006. The DFB has already paid 19.2 million euros ($22.4 million) in back taxes. All three deny the charges, which were first reported by German daily Bild

The allegations are also being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA’s ethics committee. They have targeted German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer, who led the 2006 tournament organizing committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach were members of FIFA’s executive committee in turn from 2007 through 2016.

In 2016, the DFB published an inquiry report into a complex payments trail including 6.7 million euros ($7.8 million) to FIFA in April 2005. Zwanziger and the DFB claimed the money was for a World Cup opening gala and therefore tax-deductible.

However, the payment went through FIFA and ended in a Swiss account belonging to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

The inquiry report did not rule out, but could not prove, that votes were bought when Germany beat a Nelson Mandela-supported South Africa bid for the hosting rights in a 12-11 vote of FIFA executive committee members in 2000.

Swiss prosecutors said in 2016 they had opened a criminal proceeding against the four German officials the previous year, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. That case spun off from a wider Swiss investigation of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup hosting votes that is ongoing.

Niersbach lost his seat on FIFA’s ruling committee when he was banned for one year for failing to disclose possible unethical conduct.

The various investigations have tarnished the reputation of the 2006 World Cup that was a popular success in the host nation, which called it the “Summer Fairytale.”