Bologna can look forward to another season in Serie A after overcoming Catania 3-1 to condemn Torino to relegation. Giuseppe Papadopulo’s men kicked-off the matching knowing a win would guarantee their safety although just matching il Toro’s result would also have proven sufficient.
With Catania sitting comfortably in mid-table and with little left to play for, it was no surprise to see the Rossoblu come flying out of the traps as Marco Di Vaio produced two early efforts although neither proved too worrying for Paolo Acerbis in the Catania goal. However, the first goal didn’t prove long in coming as Nicola Mingazzini’s tame strike was fumbled in at the near post by Acerbis, much to his embarrassment. The Catania stopper did go some way to atoning for his early howler, saving superbly from Di Vaio’s close range shot, but it only delayed the inevitable as the Rossoblu doubled their tally shortly before the half-hour mark. And the goal arrived from an unlikely source, Claudio Terzi rising unmarked to head home from a corner to send the Stadio Dall’Ara into near delirium.
It looked like being the killer blow for Catania but the visitors forced their way back into the game after Bologna appeared to take their foot of the gas. Firstly, Jorge Martinez shaved the post with a stinging drive before Ezequiel Carboni also went close to beating Francesco Antonioli in the hosts’ goal. Taka Morimoto’s shot was parried by Antonioli moments later with Martinez failing to latch onto the rebound, as the visitors continued to press, and Walter Zenga’s men had further opportunities early in the second half but an inspired Antonioli continued to deny the visitors. However a close range finish from Morimoto did eventually beat the Rossoblu number one to give Catania a route back into the match.
The Rossazzurri could smell blood now and the home side once again had Antonioli to thank after he denied Cristian Llama with a superb fingertip save to preserve his side’s lead. But the Rossoblu made the game safe in the 68th minute when Di Vaio’s smart control and finish at the near post confirmed his side’s league status. Despite notching his 24th goal of the campaign, the prolific striker’s goal only proved enough for him to take second position behind Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the race for the Capocannoniere crown.
Bologna’s win rendered Torino’s result in Rome immaterial in the end, but there was still plenty of excitement at the Stadio Olimpico. Tommaso Vailatti opened the scoring with a superbly taken volley for the visitors but Roma hit back when French winger Jeremy Menez fired home a stunner from outside the box. Mirko Vucinic scored to make it 2-1 before Francesco Totti put the game to bed, converting from the spot after Ivan Franceschini had fouled and received his marching orders. Nicola Ventola grabbed a consolation goal with an acrobatic volley but it wasn’t enough and Torino head back to Serie B after three seasons amongst Italy’s elite.
Elsewhere, Milan secured third spot thanks to a comfortable win over Fiorentina in Florence courtesy of their Brazilian dynamos. Kaka and Alexandre Pato both netted in the second half to give Paolo Maldini a winning send off but all the headlines centred around what happened after the final whistle. Carlo Ancelotti finally revealed football’s worst kept secret when he announced his departure from the Milan hotseat with speculation rife about a potential switch to Chelsea, while the Rossoneri wasted little time in replacing Serie A’s longest-serving Coach with il Diavolo legend Leonardo taking over the reigns at the San Siro.
Meanwhile, Inter ended their Scudetto-winning campaign with a thrilling 4-3 victory over local rivals Atalanta. A double from Cristiano Doni and a stunning volley from Luca Cigarini saw the visitors leading 3-2 as the match entered the final ten minutes, but an Esteban Cambiasso equaliser from close range and a second goal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic clinched the Capocannoniere crown for the Swedish striker and a winning end to the season for Jose Mourinho and his men. Juventus also won to consolidate their runners-up position, Vincenzo Iaquinta bagging a brace to hand Ciro Ferrara another victory as caretaker Coach. However, the day belonged to Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved who said a final goodbye to the Bianconeri tifosi before retirement.
Genoa’s excellent campaign also ended in style as they hammered relegated Lecce at the Stadio Ferraris. It proved another day for farewells in Genoa as Diego Milito signed off with a brace to finish the season with 24 goals, while teammate Thiago Motta also waved an appreciative goodbye to the crowd before both players head to Inter in the summer. The Giallorossi said their own goodbyes to Serie A and another convincing defeat summed up their season. Elsewhere, Walter Mazzarri also bode farewell as he confirmed his departure from Sampdoria after seeing his side come from two down to secure a draw at Palermo.
A rare Napoli victory was overshadowed by supporters’ protests despite Roberto Donadoni’s men running riot early on to secure the former Azzurri Coach a second win since taking charge in March. Over in Calabria, Reggina’s eight-year stay in the top flight came to an end with a 1-1 draw against Siena. A Cristian Stuani penalty gave the hosts the lead but a Massimo Maccarone strike mid-way through the second half denied the Amaranto a winning end to their stay in Serie A.
Udinese’s strong end of season form continued as they hit Cagliari for six in an eight goal thriller at the Stadio Friuli. Fabio Quagliarella netted in what is widely expected to be his last game for the Friulani as Pasquale Marino’s side finished a more than respectable sixth.
So there you have it – the 77th Serie A season over and done with. Another campaign gone, another Scudetto for Inter and plenty of memories for us all. The Nerazzurri dominated once more but their supremacy will surely be tested next season with new coaches and personnel arriving elsewhere as their major rivals attempt to close the gap on Mourinho and his men. Il Biscione will no doubt be odds on to take the crown next term but let’s hope they’re pushed a bit closer this time.
Week 38 Results
Bologna 3 – 1 Catania – Mingazzini 5, Terzi 26, Di Vaio 68; Morimoto 50
Fiorentina 0 – 2 Milan – Kaka 55, Pato 76
Genoa 4 – 1 Lecce – Jankovic 22, Criscito 52, Milito 56, 67; Tiribocchi 32
Inter 4 – 3 Atalanta – Muntari 6, Ibrahimovic 12, 81, Cambiasso 79; Doni 9, Cigarini 25, Doni 55
Juventus 2 – 0 Lazio – Iaquinta 3, 58
Napoli 3 – 0 Chievo – Montervino 4, Bogliacino 8, Pia’ 19
Palermo 2 – 2 Sampdoria – Miccoli 8, Succi 42; Pazzini 44, Stankevicius 59
Reggina 1 –1 Siena – Stuani (pen) 44; Maccarone 68
Roma 3 – 2 Torino – Menez 35, Vucinic 74, Totti (pen) 83; Vailatti 9, Ventola 88
Udinese 6 – 2 Cagliari – Asamoah 10, Pepe 11, Floro Flores 15, Pasquale 58, Quagliarella 82, Ighalo 89; Acquafresca pen 55, Parola 57