MILAN: AC Milan, Napoli and Juventus will have to wait until the final day of the season to see which two teams qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Milan, who are bidding to return to Europe’s elite after an eight-year absence, could only draw 0-0 against Cagliari on Sunday to leave them level on 76 points with Napoli after Gennaro Gattuso’s side won 2-0 at Fiorentina earlier on Sunday. The two teams are a point above fifth-placed Juventus.
Milan next play at Atalanta, who have already qualified for the Champions League. Napoli host Hellas Verona and Juventus visit Bologna. The top four qualify for Europe’s premier club competition.
Milan knew a win would guarantee it a return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Cagliari would have needed a point to secure safety but earlier results meant they were already guaranteed another season in Serie A.
Milan were reduced to long-range shots in the first half. The Rossoneri went closer in the second period but were denied on several occasions by Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno.
Cagliari also threatened with Gianluigi Donnarumma saving two second-half headers from Leonardo Pavoletti and Diego Godin.
In Florence, Lorenzo Insigne’s free-kick came off the crossbar in the first half but the Napoli captain broke the deadlock 11 minutes after the break with the follow-up after Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano had saved his shot from the spot.
Insigne hit the woodwork again before Napoli doubled their lead 11 minutes later after Piotr Zieliski’s shot was deflected in by Fiorentina defender Lorenzo Venuti for an own-goal.
Benevento’s survival chances are out of their hands after the team could only draw 1-1 against 10-man Crotone. Their fate will be played out next week against Torino, who are just three points ahead but have played a game less.
Already-relegated Parma lost 3-1 at home to Sassuolo, and Sampdoria won 1-0 at Udinese.
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021