ROME - Udinese sealed a Champions League
place as a nervy 0-0 draw against champions AC Milan proved
enough to secure fourth spot in Serie A while AS Roma claimed
the final Europa League place.
Serie A's top scorer Antonio Di Natale made sure the
Bianconeri had to sweat until the last after missing a penalty
with 15 minutes to go but in a game of few chances the point was
all Udinese needed to finish above Lazio.
Lazio, who won 4-2 in Lecce, finished level with Udinese on
66 points, four behind Napoli with Milan ending up six clear of
Udinese will now play in the qualifying round of Europe's
top competition for only the second time following their first
foray into the Champions League in 2005.
"It's a magical evening," Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin
told Italian television RAI after prolonged celebrations on the
"There was a fantastic atmosphere with a full stadium
tonight and we have to enjoy the moment. We'll think about the
qualifying round of the Champions League later but finishing
fourth for a club like Udinese is an extraordinary achievement."
Roma joined fifth-placed Lazio and Coppa Italia finalists
Palermo in the Europa League.
Despite needing just a draw to finish fourth, Francesco
Guidolin's attractive side began cautiously against a full
strength Milan side determined to shackle the threat of flying
winger Alexis Sanchez and Di Natale.
Looking for his 29th goal of the campaign, Di Natale struck
the outside of the post with a 30-yard free-kick after
Kevin-Prince Boateng had become the third Rossoneri within the
first 20 minutes to be booked.
As the home side pressed for the crucial goal, strike
partner Sanchez headed over on 35 minutes after a fine run and
cross from left-back Pablo Armero.
But as the tension began to rise with news of Lazio winning,
the champions dominated possession and created chances of their
Boateng volleyed inches over after a cross from Antonio
Cassano before the former Sampdoria forward shot a yard wide
after a neat turn just outside the box five minutes before the
Milan continued to pose the greater threat early in the
second half but with more Lazio goals being scored in Lecce,
Udinese upped the tempo, creating four outstanding chances in as
After Sanchez was brought down by Clarence Seedorf's lunge
in the box, Di Natale could only hold his head in his hands as
Marco Amelia turned his penalty on to the post.
Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler had a header saved by Amelia
before watching in agony as his swerving 30-yarder crashed back
off the bar with Amelia beaten.
A minute later, Sanchez wriggled into the box again but this
time it was Amelia's feet that came to Milan's rescue.
Udinese were not to pay for the misses, though, as the
Rossoneri showed far less ambition towards the end, allowing the
Friuli to celebrate with wild abandon at the final whistle.
In Lecce, Lazio, who had crucially lost 2-1 at Udinese two
weeks ago, were twice ahead in the first half before being
pegged back by a Lecce side that had guaranteed Serie A survival
Manuel Coppola and Ignazio Piatti cancelled out Tomasso
Rocchi and Mauro Zarate's strikes before a counter-attacking
Lazio made sure of the win with a Zarate penalty and a Giuseppe
Vives own goal.
Relegated Sampdoria gave Roma an early shock at the Stadio
Olimpico through Daniele Mannini's goal but skipper Francesco
Totti equalised with a low drive and second-half goals from
Mirko Vucinic and Marco Borriello secured the three points and a
place in next season's Europa League while the club decides
whether to keep Vincenzo Montella as coach.
"It was important to end up with a win in front of our
fans," Totti told Italy's Sky TV.
"But now we have to forget this season. On balance, it's
been a bad year and we didn't achieve our goals. Next season
we'll have to start in the right way."
Juventus will take no part in Europe in their new stadium
after ending a sorry campaign in seventh position after a 2-2
draw at home to a second-string Napoli side in what was Luigi
Delneri's final match in charge.
There were also wins for Inter, Bari, Chievo and Genoa as
Fiorentina, Brescia, Cagliari and Parma shared the points as the
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