Palermo are practically in Serie B after a thrilling and spectacular 3-2 home defeat to Udinese, who continue their march on Europe.
Francesco Guidolin faced his former club with the Friulani seeking Europe and a fifth straight win, while the Sicilians were desperate to get out of the bottom three. Massimo Donati sat out a ban for the hosts, while Danilo, Maurizio Domizzi and Giampiero Pinzi were suspended with Andrea Lazzari injured.
Within the opening 200 seconds Fabrizio Miccoli’s strike was deflected over the bar by Mehdi Benatia, then at full stretch Zeljko Brkic fingertipped an angled drive round the far post.
However, for all their pressure Palermo went behind to the first Udinese opportunity. Luis Muriel ran on to a long Gabriel Silva pass, skipped past Andrea Dossena and smashed the powerful finish past Stefano Sorrentino in a one-on-one.
Jasmin Kurtic and Alejandro Faurlin’s finishing let them down, as Palermo started to let the tension get to them.
Miccoli was brought down from behind by Thomas Heurtaux for a penalty. It was captain Miccoli himself who got back up to take it and converted, although it ricocheted in off the underside of the bar.
Dossena thought he had given Palermo the lead on 39 minutes, but he was correctly flagged offside when tapping in the rebound from a parried Edgar Barreto diving header.
Straight after the restart Miccoli fired over from six yards, but protested that there was a deflection from Benatia’s diving attempt at a block. Moments later Miccoli turned another opportunity over and he was so frustrated that he tore open his own shirt like The Hulk.
However, Udinese were awarded a penalty when Aronica foolishly jumped with his hands far above his head to graze the ball. Antonio Di Natale took the spot-kick, but his record is poor and Sorrentino performed a potentially season-deciding save with his legs.
Udinese did take the lead again anyway, as Gabriele Angella soared above the crowd for a towering header from a corner.
This left even more spaces for Udinese to counter-attack in and Emmanuel Badu smacked his shot against the upright. There was also controversy, as Di Natale refused to shake Coach Francesco Guidolin’s hand after he was substituted.
Josip Ilicic went on a fantastic slalom through several Udinese players, but ran out of steam by the time he got to the goalkeeper and passed it into his arms.
Palermo did draw level with Abel Hernandez, who unleashed an absolute screamer from distance that flashed into the bottom corner. It was his first goal since missing most of the season with an injury.
However, Palermo threw it away with a Sorrentino howler, as he only parried a simple shot at the near post and Dusan Basta pounched to pass it back for Benatia’s easy tap-in.
Palermo poured forward, but deep into stoppages Morganella drilled wide from a poorly-cleared corner.
Saved penalty: Di Natale 54 (U)