NEWS

Fight in Serie A for final CL spot goes to last round


AP
Published 11:33 a.m. ET May 13, 2018 | Updated 11:57 a.m. ET May 13, 2018

MILAN (AP) — The fight for the last Champions League place is heading for a thrilling finale in Serie A after Lazio was held to a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Crotone on Sunday.

Lazio remained fourth, three points head of Inter Milan, which it faces next week in the final match of the season with a place in Europe’s premier club competition at stake.

Third-place Roma is already assured of Champions League football next season no matter what happens in the evening match against Juventus, which only needs a point to mathematically secure a record-extending seventh successive title with one match to spare.

Despite the impressive result, Crotone slipped into the relegation zone, below Spal on their head-to-head record. It visits Napoli in its final match.

After Inter was beaten 2-1 by Sassuolo on Saturday, Lazio knew victory at Crotone would secure it a Champions League berth.

It took the lead in the 17th minute in disputed circumstances as Senad Lulic went down under Federico Ceccherini’s challenge but had appeared to shove Mario Sampirisi in the build-up.

After checking with the video assistant referee, a penalty was awarded and Lulic struck it into the bottom left corner, just past the outstretched hand of Alex Cordaz.

Ceccherini atoned for his error in the 29th as he stole the ball off Felipe Anderson in midfield to spark a counterattack and Simy powerfully headed in after being set up by Bruno Martella.

Felipe Caicedo should have restored Lazio’s advantage when sent clear by Felipe Anderson, but he hesitated and Cordaz did well to save his weak attempt from point-blank range.

Caicedo went even closer immediately after the break but he headed Felipe Anderson’s free kick off the bar.

Lazio was made to pay for its missed opportunities as Crotone took the lead shortly after the hour as Ceccherini fired Andrea Barberis’ free kick in off the post.

Crotone almost extended its lead minutes later when Marcus Rohden’s effort beat Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha but was cleared off the line by Stefan de Vrij.

De Vrij, who is almost certain to leave for Inter in the offseason, was instrumental in his side’s equalizer six minutes from time with a glancing header, which Sergio Milinkovic-Savic controlled brilliantly before drilling past Cordaz.

Milinkovic-Savic almost won the match for Lazio but his header went inches wide of the far post.

FINAL RECKONING

Any one of five clubs could be relegated on the final day of the season.

Cagliari managed a surprise 1-0 victory at Fiorentina to damage its opponent’s Europa League hopes and climb out of the bottom three.

It moved a point above Crotone and Spal, which lost 2-1 at Torino.

Udinese is a point further ahead after a 1-0 win at already-relegated Hellas Verona saw it end a dismal run of one point from 13 matches.

It is level with Chievo Verona, which came from behind to win 2-1 at Bologna.

Fiorentina remained eighth, two points behind Atalanta and the final Europa League spot. AC Milan is a point further ahead and visits Atalanta later before hosting Fiorentina in the final round.

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More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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