Napoli 2-0 Atalanta

Serie A Week 37 – 9/5/10 – Stadio San Paolo – Ref: Orsato
Striker: Quagliarella 42′, 83′ (Napoli)

Fabio Quagliarella’s brace has mathematically secured Napoli’s place in the Europa League – sending Juventus to the preliminary round – and relegated Atalanta to Serie B.

The Orobici conceded their hopes had been “reduced to their last embers” after the unlucky 1-1 draw with Bologna last week. Max Pellegrino’s red card proved crucial and here he sat out the first in a two-match ban, joining the injured Cristiano Doni, Jose Leonardo Talamonti, Paolo Zanetti and Edgar Barreto.

Napoli were in the Europa League, but faced a battle with Juventus to avoid the preliminary round. Gianluca Grava and Juan Zuniga were suspended, with Hugo Campagnaro out for the rest of the season, but Walter Mazzarri tested out the trident attack.

German Denis had a goal disallowed after six minutes for his foul on Bianco, then ‘El Tanque’ nodded another chance just wide.

Andrea Consigli kept his cool in a on-on-one against Ezequiel Lavezzi to close down the striker. At the other end Morgan De Sanctis was attentive to palm away a Tiberio Guarente lob.

Fabio Quagliarella made his comeback from a ban and scored on the stroke of half-time. He charged down the right flank and flashed a snooker-shot of an angled drive across the face of goal into the far bottom corner.

Simone Tiribocchi went so close to an equaliser 30 seconds later, but after skipping round De Sanctis he had narrowed the angle too much and hit the side-netting.

Fabio Caserta wasted the chance to equalise with a header off target, but it was Napoli who doubled their lead.

Quagliarella got the second in the final stages, soaring at the back post for a towering header on Mariano Bogliacino’s cross from the left.

Udinese 3-3 Bari

Serie A Week 37 – 9/5/10 – Stadio Friuli – Ref: Pinzani
Strikers: Barreto 18 (B), Di Natale, 63 21 (U), Pepe 27 (U), Koman 40 (B), Almiron 93 (B)
Missed penalty: Barreto 16 (B)

It was certainly entertaining, as Antonio Di Natale celebrated his 100th and 101st Serie A strikes in a game with six goals and a missed penalty.

Both sides were comfortably mid-table and ready to have fun going into the final two rounds. In particular, Antonio Di Natale was eager to secure the Capocannoniere title. Maurizio Domizzi was suspended, joining Gaetano D’Agostino, Chris Obodo, Andrea Coda and Paolo Sammarco in the stands. Bari missed goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet for the first time this season, along with Nacho Castillo, Mariano Donda, Andrea Ranocchia and Antonio Langella. This meant former Liverpool ‘keeper Daniele Padelli got the gloves.

Bari thought they were about to take the lead when Cristian Zapata brought down Riccardo Meggiorini with a clumsy tackle. However, Paulo Vitor Barreto incredible fired the penalty wide of the upright.

Moments later Barreto made up for his error, as he was given acres of space outside the box to pick his spot and smash an angled drive into the far bottom corner.

Udinese equalised through Di Natale, who celebrated his 100th Serie A goal with a special gold crown and T-Shirt provided by teammates. Mauricio Isla deserves much of the credit, as he burst down the right flank and rolled across for Di Natale’s daisy-cutter from outside the box.

Simone Pepe turned the game around completely. Di Natale’s cross from the right was hooked brilliantly with the right foot and thumped in with the left from nine yards.

Bari equalised again for the fourth goal of the first half, as a long Massimo Donati cross found Vladimir Koman at the back post for a well-taken volley. However, it probably should’ve been disallowed, as Bonucci was offside and in the way of Damiano Ferronetti.

After the restart only an acrobatic Bonucci intervention prevented Di Natale from adding to his tally.

Di Natale did get his 101st Serie A goal, as a well-worked move saw backheel flicks from Pepe and Isla, he cut back past his marker to fire from the edge of the box.

Zapata used his body as a human shield to charge down an Edgar Alvarez strike.

It was almost a fourth when Sergio Almiron had to clear off the line from Pepe’s corner kick, while Padelli needed a double save to deny Alexis Sanchez.

Bari completed their comeback in stoppages, as Donati’s cross from the left found Almiron for a free header at the back post against his former club.

Siena 1-2 Palermo

Serie A Week 36 – Stadio Franchi – Ref: Brighi
Siena 1-2 Palermo – Cavani 24 (P), Miccoli 58 (P), Calaio’ 80 (S)

Fabrizio Miccoli gave Palermo a potentially decisive win that effectively sends Siena into Serie B.

Robur had one last roll of the dice to avoid relegation, but welcomed a Rosanero side battling for the Champions League. To make matters worse, captain Simone Vergassola was suspended.

Antonio Nocerino’s lob did not surprise Gianluca Curci, but it was Siena who had the stronger start to this match.

Abdel Ghezzal caused constant problems for the Sicilian back line, earning a succession of free kicks and forcing some saves out of Salvatore Sirigu with his header and low drive.

Simon Kjaer’s wayward attempt to clear Massimo Maccarone’s cross from the left almost turned into an own goal after 14 minutes, giving Sirigu quite a scare.

However, it was Palermo who broke the deadlock. Nocerino chipped up a cross for Edinson Cavani to volley low from six yards with his right foot.

It should’ve been 2-0 on 36 minutes, as Federico Balzaretti’s cross flashed past two defenders to find Marco Cassani at the back post, but he only thumped the base of the post from point-blank range.

The impressive Ghezzal nearly equalised, as his header from five yards forced Sirigu into a reaction save with the inside of his foot. The cross had come in from Aleandro Rosi.

On the stroke of half-time Fabrizio Miccoli cut back to get away from Jajalo, but the strike whizzed past the far top corner.

Siena wasted several chances to equalise straight after the restart. Maccarone had three great opportunities, but drilled just wide, forced Sirigu into a save with his feet and then his wayward cross-shot was parried.

Miccoli made it 2-0 with a poacher’s goal. Francesco Pratali slipped in his attempt to intercept Balzaretti’s low pass from the left, so the Pocket Striker delicately prodded with the outside of his right foot to steer into the far bottom corner.

This was a very special goal, as it was Miccoli’s 40th in a Palermo jersey, matching Dante Di Maso’s club record from the 1960s.

Curci flew to deny Nocerino’s right-foot screamer, while Cavani’s audacious backheel flick was off target.

Sirigu denied an Emanuele Calaio’ header, but the striker did score 10 minutes from time. Maccarone’s cross from the left found Calaio’ for a precise glancing header across the face of goal to the far post.

Javier Pastore went on a series of slaloms through the Siena defence, but nobody managed to finish off his chances.

Siena: Curci; Rosi, Cribari, Pratali (Terzi 60), Del Grosso; Codrea (Jarolim 75), Ekdal; Jajalo (Larrondo 84), Ghezzal, Maccarone; Calaiò
Palermo: Sirigu; Cassani, Bovo, Kjaer, Balzaretti; Nocerino, Liverani, Migliaccio; Pastore (Budan 91); Miccoli (Abel Hernandez 63), Cavani (Bertolo 78)

Chievo 1-2 Napoli

Serie A Week 36 – Stadio Bentegodi
Chievo 1-2 Napoli – Denis 45 (N), Granoche 75 (C), Lavezzi 86 (N)
Ref: De Marco – Sent off: Morero 90 (C)

Napoli got the points at the Bentegodi, but this game was a show of comical goalkeeping.

The Partenopei were still in the running for a Champions League spot, albeit with one win from their last four games, and travelled to a Chievo side that was now mathematically safe. Fabio Quagliarella continued his three-match ban, but Ezequiel Lavezzi recovered to start. Davide Mandelli was suspended for the home side, joining Mario Yepes, Luciano and Tommaso Bianchi in the stands.

Sergio Pellissier held off two defenders to burst into the box to get his shot away and sting Morgan De Sanctis’ palms, then the follow-up was also charged down.

Napoli took a long time to settle into this match, but tested Stefano Sorrentino with a fingertip save on Lavezzi’s viciously dipping free kick.

German Denis was sent clear by Lavezzi and dribbled round Sorrentino, but narrowed the angle too much and missed the open goal.

El Tanque did finally find a way through on the stroke of half-time. Morero lost sight of Denis when Hugo Campagnaro’s cross came in, allowing the Argentine a precise cushioned header into the far top corner.

Michele Marcolini tested De Sanctis, while a Pellissier diving header from a corner whistled wide.

However, Denis was allowed a free header from Lavezzi’s corner kick, nodding off target from seven yards.

Chievo made the most of their chance to equalise after 75 minutes, but it was a howler from De Sanctis. He meekly prodded at a seemingly harmless Simone Bentivoglio snapshot, turning it into a perfect assist for Pablo Granoche from six yards.

Marek Hamsik drilled wide from a very promising position, but Napoli did restore their lead with some more bizarre goalkeeping. Lavezzi hit a very powerful and low free kick from the left channel that slipped through Sorrentino’s legs.

In stoppages Chievo went down to 10 men, as Morero received a second yellow card for a tussle with Zuniga.

Chievo: Sorrentino; Sardo, Morero, Mantovani, Jokic, Frey (De Paula 68), Rigoni, Marcolini (Bentivoglio 73), Pinzi, Pellissier, Granoche
Napoli: De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Grava (Aronica 65), Maggio (Bogliacino 83), Pazienza, Gargano, Zuniga, Hamsik, Denis (Rinaudo 92), Lavezzi