The second-to-last Sunday in Serie A commenced, and several matchups took place that had implications on the league table.
As is the case in multiple leagues across Europe right now, the final period of spring signals a time of great import for squads meeting–or perhaps, failing to meet–their originally-set plans for the year.
Palermo 2-3 Fiorentina: At the Stadio Renzo Barbera, the Lilies staved off Palmero in a 3-2 victory to qualify for the Europa League. Midfielder Josip Ilicic left the Eagles behind in 2013 and the hometown fans harangued him in this match, but he was the man to open the scoring in the 23rd minute. Alberto Gilardino poached for the second goal and then Mato Jajalo struck for Palermo to halve the scoreline. A second-half comeback begun when Luca Rigoni converted on a poor defensive effort in the box, and the two sides were level. In the 78th minute, Marcos Alonso buried a ball from Gilardino to seal a finish in the top-six. A red card was given to Jasmin Kurtic in stoppage time, though it was too late to have an effect on the outcome.
Empoli 1-1 Sampdoria: Matias Vecino’s clanging of the crossbar marked the most notable chance of the first half. But Manuel Pucciarelli would have no bothers taking an assist from Massimo Maccarone, who also had a threatening shot from long range, in the 58th minute to give the Blue the lead. For those who thought Empoli would finish this up with a surprise win, you were nearly correct. Samuel Eto’o came off the bench, though, and found the back of the net in first minute of stoppage time to salvage a point. The draw now puts Sampdoria four points back and thus out of contention for the sixth-place Europa League spot on the heels of Palermo’s triumph.
[RELATED: Saturday’s Serie A & La Liga roundup]
AC Milan 3-0 Torino: Milan’s 3-2 loss to Sassuolo last week was tossed in the rearview mirror, and Stephan El Shaarawy starred with a brace en route to i Rossoneri’s smooth-sailing victory. Still, the Devils find themselves sitting smack in the middle of the table at 10th place but the good news was, of course, the performance of the 22-year-old El Shaarawy compensating a bit for his unsteady run of form. His first goal (his last score being in November 2014) was executed with a special first touch and finish, while a pinpointed left-footer into the bottom corner explains his second. Additionally, Giampaolo Pazzini added a penalty kick.
Udinese 0-1 Sassuolo: Down to 10 men in the 80th minute because of Guilherme’s second yellow card, Udinese essentially quashed their own hopes of surging back for to tie the match at 1-1. Francesco Magnanelli, the lone goalscorer, corralled a ball from Berardi and applied the touch to beat the reach of goalkeeper Simone Scuffet. The Little Zebras, having only won twice in their past 12 league contests, remained at 16th place. Sassuolo moved up to 12th place in the standings, and manager Eusebio Di Francesco, despite being on the shortlist for other Serie A teams, could stay on as head man at the Mapei Stadium.
Other results from Sunday
Parma 2-2 Verona
Cesena 0-1 Cagliari
Chievo 0-1 Atalanta
Juventus 3-1 Napoli
Genoa 3-2 Inter Milan