1000km from home the unlikely dream became a reality. With the clock ticking down to half time and thousands of expectant eyes upon him Raffaele Palladino confidently strode up to the ball and with ice running through his veins smashed into the top left corner from 12 yards out.
That goal, the Squali’s 59th of the season, will go down as perhaps the most historic in the club’s history being as it was the one to secure their promotion to Serie A for the first time in the clubs 93-year history. As for the man who scored it there was perhaps nobody more apt, Palladino had been without a club up until January but since his arrival has proved a revelation. In the end a man who had been written off by many was the man who promoted a club who had been written off by many over the course of the season, a club few expected to go the full distance.
But go the full distance they did, Crotone are Serie A bound. A league that has produced its fair share of miracles in the last few years has presented us with another and by God it may just be the best one yet.
(Read full Feature on Crotone’s remarkable season HERE)
Away from Crotone and their celebrations it was easy to forget that there had been an opposition on the pitch that Friday night. For Modena their fight is in stark contrast to the Calabrian’s, rooted down near the foot of the table they are desperate for points in the last few matches if they are to avoid the drop. In the end the draw at home to Crotone should be looked on as a point gained rather than two dropped. It combined with other results from the weekend leave the Gialloblu 18th, still in the relegation play-off positions but level on points with a chronically out of form Latina side with three matches remaining.
In truth it was a good thing that Crotone delivered on their fairy tale because things around the rest of the league proved pretty uninspired this weekend, with four of the ten matches played so far ending scoreless. Those matches took place between the aforementioned Latina and Spezia, Perugia v Bari, Trapani v Novara and Virtus Entella v Pescara.
A subplot of three (Trapani, Bari & Pescara) of those four draws was that it involved teams in the race to finish in third spot. A spot which for most of the season has seemingly brought out an allergic reaction in anyone who holds it for more than a week or two. For now, though it remains in the hands of the Sicilians (Trapani), as already said though with three matches still remaining it really is anyone’s guess who will be sitting there come the end of match day 42.
Changing track now to a match that actually had some goals in it, Cagliari v Livorno. The clash at the Sant’Elia saw second from top go up against second from bottom. For the Rossoblu they knew a win here and other results to go their way (Which they did) and they would be promoted back to Serie A. In the however an Amaranto side frantically trying to avoid the drop into Lega Pro would somewhat spoil the party by coming away with a point.
It was the hosts who opened the scoring on 25 minutes, Niccolo Giannetti managing to control what was a shot from outside the area then turning and putting past Carlo Pinsoglio from around the penalty spot. Not long into the second half though Cagliari would be hit by a blow when Gianni Munari was given a straight red for what was deemed a dangerous tackle.
Initially however it did not seem to overly effect the Rossoblu as seven minutes later on 65 minutes Joao Pedro made it 2-0 from the penalty spot. Promotion now looked to be very much on the cards, but three minutes later Daniele Vantaggiato would get one back for Livorno, converting the rebound after he had missed a penalty of his own. Still even with that Cagliari had the goal advantage, well not for long as only three minutes later Livorno got the leveller. Marco Biagianti getting in behind his man to head home at the back post.
Cagliari are still Serie A bound despite this delay, Livorno well their still Lega Pro bound despite a good away point.
At the Stadio Del Duca, Ascoli knew that a win against Salernitana would virtually guarantee them Serie B football next season. And they started with the notion of that very much in mind racing in a two goal lead inside 20 minutes. As ever it was that man Daniele Cacia doing the damage for Ascoli, his first on 13 minutes showing all his class. Flicking the ball one way around the last defender he went the other before gathering it back and heading for goal where he coolly slotted into the bottom left corner.
His second was not as aesthetically pleasing but easily as coolly taken as he took possession of a cut back just beyond the penalty spot before stroking home. The Granata, another club fighting for their life down the bottom eventually showed some sort of fight when they got back into the match on 33 minutes, Christopher Oikonomidis showing excellent technique to score on the half volley from outside the area after a free kick from the right was not sufficiently cleared.
2-1 would be the way it stayed until deep into stoppage time at the end of the match, 92 minutes to be exact. It was then that young Croatian Ricardo Bagadur would head home a free kick from the left at the near post to give the Granata a potentially massive point. As for Ascoli they should be safe anyway but must remain on their guard for the last few matches.
One club who will no longer have to be on their guard is Como, the Lariani eventually succumbed to the inevitability of relegation on Sunday evening, losing 1-2 at home to Ternana. It has been coming a long way down the tracks but it remains painful nonetheless for the loyal fans. After only one year Como make an immediate return to Lega Pro.
The other two matches played so far this weekend saw away wins for Vicenza and Avellino over Brescia and Virtus Lanciano respectively. Both results go a long way to easing either sides relegation worries.
The final match of week 39 takes place tonight and sees Cesena host Pro Vercelli.
View Current Table HERE.
Week 39 Results:
Modena 1-1 Crotone, Cagliari 2-2 Livorno, Ascoli 2-2 Salernitana, Brescia 0-1 Vicenza, Latina 0-0 Spezia, Trapani 0-0 Novara, Perugia 0-0 Bari, Virtus Entella 0-0 Pescara, Virtus Lanciano 1-2 Avellino, Como 1-2 Ternana, Cesena (Mon) Pro Vercelli.