Sunday, May 13, 2012
ESPNsoccernet: May 14, 8:21 AM UK
Decorated veterans score on final bows
Serie A legends Alessandro Del Piero and Filippo Inzaghi netted on their last appearances for Juventus and AC Milan respectively to help secure final-day wins for their sides.
Del Piero marked his final league appearance for Juventus with a goal as the champions preserved their unbeaten Serie A record with a 3-1 victory at home to Atalanta.
The Bianconeri legend, who after 20 years' illustrious service will leave the Turin club on the expiry of his contract this summer, slotted home Juve's second of the afternoon after Luca Marrone had opened the scoring.
Andrea Barzagli's penalty completed the victory for the hosts in stoppage time after Atalanta had been given late hope thanks to Stephan Lichtsteiner's own goal.
Juve won their 28th Scudetto last week and the celebrations intensified on Sunday as Juve secured the result they needed to join Perugia and AC as the only clubs to have gone undefeated through an entire Serie A season.
Antonio Conte's side still have one more date in their diary this term - the Coppa Italia final against Napoli in Rome next weekend - where 37-year-old Del Piero, the club's all-time record goalscorer, will have chance to make another fitting farewell to the Turin faithful.
There was an emotional goal for Inzaghi, too, as he scored a late winner on his farewell appearance to earn AC Milan the points with a 2-1 victory against relegated Novara.
With Milan finishing runners-up in Serie A, veteran Inzaghi announced earlier this week he would leave the San Siro at the end of the season, along with Alessandro Nesta, Mark van Bommel and Gennaro Gattuso.
And the striker said his goodbyes to the Rossoneri fans with an 83rd-minute goal as Milan came from behind to win. Santiago Garcia had earlier given Novara an unexpected lead, but that was cancelled out by Mathieu Flamini.
Inzaghi ensured a fairytale finish to his Milan career eight minutes from time, running on to a ball from Seedorf before slotting low into the centre of the net.
Antonio Di Natale and Diego Fabbrini scored as Udinese claimed their fourth straight win, 2-0 at Catania, to clinch a place in next season's Champions League qualifying round.
Francesco Guidolin's men showed no signs of nerves as they took the game straight to mid-table Catania, Di Natale grabbed the opener in the 20th minute with an angled shot in the box after an assist from Maurizio Domizzi.
The hosts should have equalised in the 37th minute when Mehdi Benatia fouled Andrea Catellani in the box but Alejandro Gomez fired the Catania spot-kick wide.
Di Natale went close again at the start of the second half and Udinese extended their lead in the 58th minute when Kwadwo Asamoah set up Fabbrini who hit a right-footed shot into the bottom left corner.
Napoli failed to earn a place in the Champions League despite defeating Siena 2-1.
The win, secured thanks to a brace from defender Andrea Dossena, was rendered meaningless by Udinese's 2-0 win over Catania which meant that they finished third, with Walter Mazzarri's side having to settle for fifth place and a place in the Europa League next season.
Mattia Destro scored Siena's consolation as they completed a successful season in 14th place.
Lazio beat Inter Milan 3-1 but their efforts were in vain due to Udinese's win at Catania.
Lazio went behind on the stroke of half-time when Inter's Diego Milito scored from the penalty spot. Libor Kozak equalised before the hour and team-mate Antonio Candreva put the hosts ahead four minutes later.
Inter almost drew level with nine minutes remaining after Lazio's Giuseppe Biava deflected visiting captain Javier Zanetti's cross towards the post. Lazio made sure of victory when Stefano Mauri struck his team's third goal seconds from time.
Udinese took the last qualifying spot away from Lazio, this time with a 2-0 triumph in Sicily. Lazio must settle for fourth place and a spot in the Europa League while Inter ended a disappointing campaign in sixth position. However, they have secured a place in the preliminary round of the Europa League.
Lecce were relegated to Serie B after ending the season with a 1-0 defeat at Chievo.
Only a win would have given Serse Cosmi's side any chance of staying up, but even then, they were reliant on Genoa losing at home to Palermo. Chievo ended Lecce's spirited battle at the Stadio Bentegodi with a goal from Kamil Vacek in the 78th minute sealing their demise.
Moris Carrozzieri was then shown a straight red card in the 81st minute as Lecce's survival bid disappeared.
Genoa preserved their top-flight status on the final day of the season with a 2-0 win over Palermo behind closed doors at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Knowing they might need a point to avoid relegation, Genoa secured a more convincing outcome with two second-half goals downing the Sicilians. Giuseppe Sculli and Alberto Gilardino scored for the Rossoblu, who will be happy to put this season behind them and move on to the next campaign.
Palermo will also be glad to see the back of the 2011-12 campaign after finishing just above the drop zone, although their top-flight status was not under threat.
Fiorentina's wretched run at home continued after they ended their season with a disappointing goalless draw against Cagliari.
La Viola are now winless in six matches at the Artemio Franchi stadium - a run stretching back to March 4 - following Sunday's lacklustre showing.
And it could have been worse had goalkeeper Norberto Neto not pulled off a marvellous save to deny Radja Nainggolan in the closing stages. Neto's stop also denied Cagliari from claiming a first win on the road since they beat Catania 1-0 on December 4.
Parma clinched a club-record seventh consecutive win with a 1-0 victory over Bologna at a packed Ennio Tardini stadium.A goal from Jonathan Biabiany in the 37th minute gave the Gialloblu a perfect end to the season and sealed an eighth-place finish for Roberto Donadoni's men.The Gialloblu finished level on 56 points with seventh-place Roma. Bologna, meanwhile, ended their campaign five points adrift of Parma in ninth position.
Roma coach Luis Enrique celebrated his last game in charge with a 3-2 victory over Cesena.
Simone Del Nero scored for the hosts in the ninth minute only for Bojan Krkic to equalise before the half-hour mark.
Erik Lamela put Roma in front for the first time in the 32nd minute and
team-mate Daniele De Rossi made it 3-1 four minutes into the second half.
Mario Santana gave Cesena a late lifeline, but Roma held on for their 15th win
of the campaign.