The last round gave gave calcio fans entertainment, drama and down right nerve racking story lines as the 2018/19 season came to a conclusion.
Frosinone 0-0 Chievo
The worst two teams this campaign met in a dour encounter that summed up both of their contributions for the most part and quite frankly, that is all that needs to be said…
Bologna 3-2 Napoli
A five goal thriller… The Rossoblu completely dominated the first half, but it was not until the end of the 45 minutes did they make it count with a double strike; firstly, Rodrigo Palacio crossed in and Federico Santander powered the ball with a header into the corner of the net to give the home team the lead. Then with the last kick before the break, former Napoli player Blerim Dzemaili, went right through the away side’s defense and placed his left footed shot into the corner of the goal. Within 10 minutes after the start of the second half, the Partenopei got one back, as Faouzi Ghoulam ran onto a Fabian Ruiz pass, to blast the ball into the goal. A lovely move 20 minutes later was finished off inside the six yard box by Dries Mertens to tie the game, and they nearly took the lead, as Piotr Zielinski hit the post with a left footed effort. It would be the home side though that got the game winning goal, as Santander completed his brace guiding home a cross from Svanberg. Incredibly Bologna finished the season in 10th, while Napoli’s “best of the rest” status was confirmed a long time ago.
Torino 3-1 Lazio
Four second half goals in this game in an eventual win for the Granata… The home side scored two goals in the space of a couple minutes early after the interval. First, Ola Aina played a ball into the box and Iago Falque volleyed it into the goal from close range and second, Sasa Lukic ran onto a through ball from Soualiho Meite to round Silvio Proto in goal to make it 2-0. It was former Toro player Ciro Immobile that pulled one back for the away side, as he was played into the box by Marco Parolo and he hit a quick footed right footed shot into the bottom left side of the goal. However, the home team restored their two goal lead – it was through former Lazio player Lorenzo De Silvestri with the goal, as he chipped Proto after he saved a Simone Zaza strike. Toro finished in 7th place, four points above Lazio in the standings, but the Romans will be in Europe, courtesy of their Coppa Italia title.
Sampdoria 2-0 Juventus
Two goals in the last 10 minutes gave the Ligurians a win over the Piedmont side… The first was scored by Gregoire Defrel with a deflected effort off Daniele Rugani and the second, was a lovely free-kick from Gianluca Caprari (pictured in the above photo). Sampdoria finished the season in 9th on 53 points, while the Scudetto was Juve’s for a long time now.
The other six games all had European and survival implications for teams involved and so they all kicked off at the same time, 8:30 pm.
Fiorentina 0-0 Genoa
A rather dour scoreless draw… In the first half, Luis Muriel and Federico Chiesa tried to rest La Viola fans nerves with right footed efforts, both were comfortably saved, while a Grifone free-kick took a deflection off a Fiorentina player and hit Alban Lafont on his leg, although, he seemed to not know much about it. In the second half, it was again Muriel and Chiesa who were the main threats, as the Colombian set up the Italian inside the box, but his spin and shot was well saved by Genoa’s keeper and the match ended scoreless as the teams waited for the result elsewhere…
Roma 2-1 Parma
This day was all about one man, DANIELE DE ROSSI… The Giallorossi legend it had been revealed was ending his 18 year playing career at the club two weeks ago. The home team took the lead as a Lorenzo Pellegrini shot was deflected into his own net by Riccardo Gagliolo. The last 10 minutes of this game left much to salivate on… Firstly, De Rossi was taken off to a well deserved standing ovation from all at the Stadio Olimpico, then Parma tied the game up through former Roma player Gervinho, as he ran onto a ball from Pepin. However, the team made sure that their captain went out on a winning note, as Cengiz Under crossed the ball and Diego Perotti scored with a header to give them the win. Roma confirmed their place in the Europa League, but this night was really about DDR and the number 16 was given a fitting tribute by the fans and there was not a dry eye at the Olimpico.
Cagliari 1-2 Udinese
A comeback win for the Frulians… In a rainy Sardegna Arena, it was the home team that dominated the early exchanges and they duly took the lead through Leonardo Pavoletti with a headed goal. However, the away side struck back twice in the space of 10 minutes to take home the points. The first goal was a strange one, as Emil Hallfreðsson hit what looked like a cross from outside the box, but it somehow found it’s way into the back of the net, as it fooled Alessio Cragno in the Cagliari goal. The second was scored as Sebastien De Maio found himself all alone in the box from a free-kick and promptly headed home. Cagliari finished in 15th place, while Udinese’s incredible survival led them all the way up to 12th on 43 points.
Spal 2-3 Milan
A win for the Rossoneri that was not enough… It was an exciting game nonetheless as Milan took a two goal lead early on, first through Hakan Calhanoglu with a first time shot from a Franck Kessie pass. The Ivorian then got one himself, in what was a man of the match performance; he collected a pass inside the box and hit a ferocious left footed shot into the roof of the net. Just on the stroke of the half and hour mark, the home team struck back with a Francesco Vicari header. Incredibly Gli Estensi were level within minutes of the second half, with a Mohammed Fares header as he ghosted in unmarked. The away side would eventually re-take the lead with a Kessie penalty after Pitaek was fouled in the box. Spal nearly equalised with a Sergio Floccari header off the cross-bar, but it would not have mattered in the end, as other results went against Milan. Spal should feel very satisfied at a second straight season of Serie A survival, while there are many questions surrounding Milan.
Atalanta 3-1 Sassuolo
History made by La Dea! They had to do it the hard way too, as the Neroverdi opened the scoring with a well worked move finished off by Domenico Berardi. However, Atalanta equalized with that man again, Duvan Zapata, bundling home the ball from a corner. Controversy rained at the end of the first half as a “clash” between Magnalili and Martin de Roon and the aftermath, ended with Berardi being sent off. Atalanta playing this game as the “home” team, at Sassuolo’s Mapei stadium, duly took advantage of the man advantage in the second half with two goals. It was fitting that captain Papu Gomez would get the go ahead goal, as Josep Ilicic’s shot was well saved by Andrea Consigli, but the Argentine was there to chip the ball into the net. Then Mario Pasalic headed home a Gomez cross to confirm the win and sent the Bergamo based side into the Champions League for the first time in their existence! Atalanta’s incredible season got a just reward and Europe’s most prestigious competition beckons for the Lombardy club.
Inter 2-1 Empoli
What drama at the Guiseppe Meazza! The first half was dominated as expected by Inter and the Tuscan’s goalkeeper Dragowski was forced into several miraculous saves, including a Stefan De Vrij header. Mere minutes into the second half, substitute Keita Balde gave the Nerazzurri the lead with a brilliant finish from outside the box, but there was more to come… On the hour mark the home team had a penalty, after poor play from the away team’s defenders with a back pass that forced their keeper to foul Mauro Icardi in the box. The Pole made up for it however with a save on the Argentine himself. Diego Fares missed a golden chance for the away side when one on one with Samir Handanovic, but they did get an equalizer, as somehow, Hamed Traore found himself unmarked in the six yard box to tap home a Ucan cross. However, less than five minutes later the decisive blow was struck by the Biscione. Matias Vecino powered forward had a shot that hit the post, it fell kindly for Radja Nainggolan and the Belgian coolly slotted the ball into an empty net. Right at the end the away side had two chances to score, but firstly, a wonder save from the ‘Man of the Match’, Handanovic to deny Ucan and then the post denied the away side. Inter scored a third goal through Marcelo Brozovic, but it was chalked off after Balde had pulled back the Empoli goalkeeper after he went up for the corner and was racing back towards his goal. Balde was subsequently shown a second yellow card and a red and the home team were down to 10 men. Empoli tried as they might were not able to tie the game up a second time… Inter qualify for the Champions League for the second successive year and on the final day again as well, while Empoli’s brave brilliant football was sent down to Serie B.
So another season came to an end, with Juventus as Serie A champions, Lazio as the Coppa Italia winners, Napoli, Atalanta & Inter qualify for the Champions League and Milan and Roma will have to contend with a place in the Europa League. The teams relegated are Chievo, Frosinone & Empoli. This season had many story-lines and we eagerly wait for three months until the new campaign kicks off. The countdown starts now…