There were a couple of issues to resolve on the final day in Italy as the battle for Champions League places reached its climax while a number of teams were hoping to avoid relegation. Did Genoa manage to avoid relegation to Serie B?
The Champions League Race
Roma 2-1 Parma
Roma came into the weekend’s fixtures knowing that they needed to win while also relying on a couple of other results if they wanted to qualify for the Champions League next season and they did their bit with a narrow victory over Parma at the Stadio Olimpico.
The home side had an early chance when Javier Pastore forced an early save from Pierluigi Frattali but Parma nearly took a surprise lead on the counter attack as Mattia Sprocati set up Gervinho, though the Ivorian’s shot was well saved by Antonio Mirante. However, it was Roma who took the lead ten minutes before the break as Lorenzo Pellegrini’s deflected shot eventually found its way past Frattali to keep their Champions League chances alive.
Diego Perotti nearly doubled the lead after half time as his effort struck the post from a difficult angle but it looked as though Roma would definitely be confined to a season in the Europa League late on as Gervinho managed to slot the ball past Mirante to make it 1-1 in the 86th minute.
Had the scoreline remained the same, Roma would have been unable to catch anybody in the race for the Champions League but they were rescued by Diego Perotti late on as the Argentinean midfielder headed home at the far post to make it 2-1, leaving Roma to wait on positive news from the other matches…
Spal 2-3 AC Milan
A fourth consecutive victory for AC Milan ensured that they kept their Champions League hopes alive as they beat Spal 3-2 at the Stadio Paolo Mazza, meaning that they also ended Roma’s faint hopes of snatching a Champions League spot too.
The visitors started well with Krzysztof Piątek forcing an early save from Emiliano Viviano but it wasn’t long before AC Milan took the lead as Franck Kessie set up Hakan Çalhanoğlu to score the opening goal before Kessie doubled the lead from close range as he fired the ball into the top corner of the net.
However, Spal hauled themselves back in the match as an inswinging free kick from Jasmin Kurtić allowed Francesco Vicari to head past Pepe Reina and it could have been 2-2 when a cross from the right found Mohamed Fares in acres of space but the Algerian couldn’t beat Reina from close range.
The warning signs were there for AC Milan, though, and they were made to pay for their complacency at the back when a cross from Thiago Cionek found Fares at the far post, with the Algerian taking his chance by heading past Reina to make it 2-2.
Spal nearly took the lead as Manuel Lazzari’s shot only went narrowly wide of the far post via a deflection but AC Milan were handed a lifeline shortly after the hour mark as they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Piątek. Franck Kessie stepped up to take the penalty and his second goal of the evening ensured that AC Milan collected the three points they needed in the race for the Champions League but did they get any favours from Sassuolo or Empoli?
Atalanta 3-1 Sassuolo
Atalanta have qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history as they capitalised on two red cards for Sassuolo to win 3-1 at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia while also claiming their highest ever league finish by ending the season in third place.
It didn’t look like the hosts were going to claim a Champions League place when Sassuolo took a surprise early lead as a fine move involving Pol Lirola and Alfred Duncan set up Domenico Berardi to slot the ball just inside the far post but Atalanta were back on level terms before half time as Duván Zapata eventually bundled the ball home from a corner to make it 1-1.
The hosts received a further boost before the break as Sassuolo’s Berardi was sent off for pushing Marten de Roon in the face and Atalanta made the most of the numerical advantage when Alejandro Gómez reacted quickest after Josip Illicic’s shot had been saved to chip Gianluca Pegolo from close range to make it 2-1.
The hosts increased their advantage as Mario Pasalic headed home at the far post from Alejandro Gómez’ cross before Sassuolo were reduced to nine men when Francesco Magnanelli saw a second yellow card, leaving Atalanta to see out the game with ease to secure their Champions League qualification.
Inter Milan made sure of their place in next season’s Champions League as they just about managed to see off Empoli at home to claim the fourth and final spot in Serie A with a nervy 2-1 victory on Sunday.
Both teams were desperate for the points heading into the fixture but it was Inter who came close to taking the lead in the first half as Empoli’s Bartlomiej Dragowski had to be at his best to deny Stefan de Vrij’s header from a corner.
The hosts had to wait until the 51st minute before edging in front as substitute Keita Baldé fired into the bottom corner to make it 1-0 and they were awarded a penalty shortly afterwards as Dragowski fouled Mauro Icardi to give Inter a chance to put themselves firmly in control of the match.
However, Icardi’s penalty was easily saved by the Polish goalkeeper as he managed to block the ball with his legs to keep Empoli in the match and the hosts were stunned with a little under 20 minutes remaining as Empoli equalised. Salih Uçan’s cross at the far post gave Hamed Traorè an easy finish at the far post to make it 1-1 as the visitors looked to be heading towards Serie A safety while the hosts were on course to miss out on the Champions League.
Inter still had enough time to retake the lead and they managed to find their second goal of the night with about ten minutes remaining as Matias Vecino’s low shot struck the post before rebounding to Radja Nainggolan who slotted the ball into an empty net, but the drama was far from over.
It was Empoli’s turn to push for an equaliser again and the visitors came very close to finding it as Francesco Caputo’s low cross to the far post was almost turned into his own net by Danilo D’Ambrosio but the Italian defender was relieved to see the ball rebound off of the bar before bouncing into Samir Handanović’s hands.
Empoli had another chance late on as Salih Uçan managed to break through the home defence but a brilliant save from Handanovic denied the Turkish midfielder a crucial equaliser as the hosts booked a Champions League spot while Empoli were dependent on positive news from Fiorentina’s match against Genoa in their battle to avoid the drop.
The Relegation Battle
Fiorentina 0-0 Genoa
Following Empoli’s defeat at Inter Milan, Fiorentina were safe but Genoa still needed a point to ensure their Serie A status and a goalless draw was enough for Cesare Prandelli side as they leapfrogged Empoli in the table.
Both teams came into the match in poor form but it was Fiorentina who seemed to be pretty keen to win the match as Luis Muriel forced a good save early on from Andrei Radu before Federico Chiesa tested the Genoa goalkeeper with a shot from distance.
However, Genoa came the closest to scoring before the break as a dangerous free kick from the right nearly found its way into the net but a great reflex save from Alban Lafont kept the scores level.
That proved to be Genoa’s only real chance in the match as Fiorentina created numerous opportunities in the second half but after Nikola Milenković and Chiesa were denied by Radu late on, Genoa managed to hold on to secure a 13th consecutive season in the top flight.
The two lowest scoring teams, Frosinone and Chievo, ended the season on a low note as they drew 0-0 at the Stadio Benito Stirpe in their final match in Serie A. For Chievo, who ended the season with only 25 goals from 38 matches, it was their fourth successive match without a goal.
Atalanta 3-1 Sassuolo
Bologna 3-2 Napoli
Cagliari 1-2 Udinese
Fiorentina 0-0 Genoa
Frosinone 0-0 Chievo
Inter Milan 2-1 Empoli
Roma 2-1 Parma
Sampdoria 2-0 Juventus
Spal 2-3 AC Milan
Torino 3-1 Lazio
Lazio, AC Milan, Roma
Relegation to Serie B
Empoli, Frosinone, Chievo