PIACENZA, April 6 (Serie A) - Enzo Maresca scored a last-gasp equaliser as Piacenza snatched a 3-3 draw with Modena on Sunday in a relegation dogfight at the Leonardo Garilli Stadium.
The former West Brom and Juventus midfielder struck his precious blow deep into stoppage time after Fabio Vignaroli had looked to have secured the points for Modena, who are gradually being sucked into relegation trouble after a good start to the season.
Veteran defender Eusebio Di Francesco had given Piacenza an early lead only for Omar Milanetto to notch two penalties for Modena in three first-half minutes.
Di Francesco then restored parity midway through the second period to set up the thrilling finale. But this result will do little to help Piacenza, who already look stranded, while Modena are not yet in the drop zone but still have work to do to ensure survival.
Piacenza's need was even greater than Modena's and it showed with them making the early running before taking the lead in this battle of two near neighbours in Italy's Emilia region.
Experienced Di Francesco, who played as a defender in Roma's Scudetto-winning season of 2000-01 before moving to Piacenza that summer, collected a long ball from Davide Baiocco and scored with his left foot.
After 21 minutes Modena threatened for the first time with Stefano Mauri swinging in a free-kick and Vignaroli heading the ball narrowly wide.
Two minutes later the visitors restored parity with the first of two penalties. Their French striker Diomansy Kamara, who has committed his international future to Senegal, won the penalty, going down after bursting between Sergei Gurenko and Filippo Cristante. Milanetto netted from the penalty spot and shortly afterwards was asked to repeat the feat.
Cristante was the culprit again, this time fouling Vignaroli and again Milanetto made no mistake from the spot.
After 31 minutes it was almost 3-1 with Giuseppe Colucci firing a right-foot shot but Paolo Orlandoni made a fine save at the expense of a corner.
Gianni De Biasi's side looked well in control but suddenly lapsed in concentration midway through the second period.
The whole defence seemed not to see Di Francesco, who is noted for his charity work off the field but showed little pity for Modena and scored easily with a header to level the match again.
And after 86 minutes it looked as though Piacenza had taken full advantage when they moved 3-2 ahead. Substitute Giuseppe Sculli played a pass to Vignaroli, who composed himself before scoring just inside the post with a left-foot shot.
It was looking desperate for Modena, but then came Maresca's moment of inspiration.
Despite the goal things look bleak for Piacenza, whose veteran striker Dario Hubner was joint top of the Serie A goalscoring chart last season with David Trezeguet of Juventus but who has failed to hit the net with the same regularity this season.
They are eight points from the safety zone with seven rounds of matches remaining.
Modena, playing in the top flight for the first time in nearly 40 years, are only three points above the last relegation place and may yet come to rue the dramatic finish of this match.