Empoli have ended a six-year wait to return to Serie A after they clinched promotion with a 2-0 win over Pescara.
In what was for long periods a tense evening at the Stadio Carlo Castellani, an own goal by Federico Di Francesco on 70 minutes finally gave the home side the lead they craved.
Francesco Tavana’s strike four minutes later wrapped things up for the Tuscans and the final whistle sparked jubilant scenes as they joined Palermo in making the step up to the top flight. Both teams can now look forward to a season mixing it with the giants of the Italian game.
Empoli’s result rendered third-placed Latina’s meaningless, for they began the evening needing their rivals to slip up in order to pip them to second. Nevertheless, it would not have mattered if they had as the Lazio outfit stumbled to a goalless draw at home to Spezia. They therefore finish third and will have to settle for a place in the play-offs.
The race for spots in the end-of-season lottery provided far more drama. Cesena had already guaranteed their place, while Modena and Crotone both joined them by securing the draws they needed to finish fifth and sixth respectively.
Bari, who began the day in ninth, needed to win and hope that at least one of the teams above them slipped up for them to make the top eight. An emphatic 4-1 win over Novara, coupled with the failure of either Siena or Spezia to taste victory, triggered wild celebrations in Apulia.
In the end, it was Siena who were the unlucky team to drop out of the fray at Bari’s expense after they were beaten 2-0 at Varese. It could have been oh so different though had the Tuscans not missed a late penalty which would have made it 1-1 and secured them eighth spot. As it turned out however, Spezia’s draw at Latina was enough from them to cling on to their own promotion dream.
Siena will now be left to lick their wounds in the knowledge that they would have finished third had it not been for their eight point deduction.
Virtus Lanciano and Avellino both also kicked off this evening with a faint opportunity of reaching the play-offs, but neither secured the wins they needed to give themselves a chance.
At the bottom, Varese and Novara will as expected contest the relegation play-out tie. Both sides knew they needed to win and hope that Cittadella lost to Virtus in order for either to pull off a miraculous escape.
Novara crumbled to defeat at Bari and though Varese fulfilled their end of the bargain by beating Siena, Cittadella’s goalless draw meant they got the point they needed to secure their safety.
Varese and Novara will now play a two legged tie, the loser of which will join Padova, Reggina and Juve Stabia in being relegated to Lega Pro.
Serie B Week 42 Results:
Padova 2 – 1 Avellino
Melchiorri 25 (P), Diakite 27 (P), Castaldo 45 (A)
Trapani 0 – 1 Brescia
Coriva 46 (B)
Juve Stabia 0 – 2 Carpi
Inglese 38 (C), Mbakogu 45 (C)
Modena 0 – 0 Cesena
Virtus Lanciano 0 – 0 Cittadella
Palermo 0 – 0 Crotone
Bari 4 – 1 Novara
Gonzalez 51 (N), Cani 62 & 74 (B), Polenta 82 (B), Beltrame 86 (B)
Empoli 2 – 0 Pescara
Di Francesco OG 70 (E), Tavano 74 (E)
Varese 2 – 0 Siena
Pavoletti 68 (V), Falcone 90 (V)
Latina 0 – 0 Spezia
Reggina 1 – 2 Ternana
Bochniewicz OG 10 (T), Fischnaller 13 (R), Alfageme 75 (T)
Serie B Roll of honour:
Play-offs: Latina, Cesena, Modena, Crotone, Bari, Spezia
Play-out: Varese, Novara
Relegated: Padova, Reggina, Juve Stabia
Serie B Play-off quarter-finals, one off ties to be played on Tuesday June 3:
Modena v Spezia
Crotone v Bari
Serie B Play-out, two legged ties to be played on Friday June 6 and Friday June 13:
Varese v Novara
Novara v Varese