Napoli were the favourites for third place, but threw it away with a shock 2-0 defeat in Bologna on Marco Di Vaio’s Dall’Ara swansong.
There was a party atmosphere at the Stadio Dall’Ara, as Di Vaio waved goodbye to Serie A and the Rossoblu celebrated their safety, while at the same time thousands of Napoli fans flocked to Bologna to cheer their side on towards Champions League qualification.
Going into the game they were level in third place with Udinese, but missed Hugo Campagnaro, Marco Donadel and the suspended Federico Fernandez. Ezequiel Lavezzi was again dropped in favour of on-form Goran Pandev. The home side had Gaston Ramirez, Panagiotis Kone and Daniele Portanova suspended plus the injured Henry Gimenez, Nico Pulzetti, Jean-Francois Gillet and Rene Krhin.
Marek Hamsik had a great scoring opportunity in the opening minutes, but was denied by a desperate Federico Agliardi save. The Slovak gathered with his back to goal from Juan Zuniga and spun round from six yards to find a one-handed Agliardi block.
Moments later Paolo Cannavaro went on the counter to the edge of the area and unleashed a blockbuster that cannoned off the crossbar!
However, Napoli left themselves exposed on the counter-attack when Archimede Morleo and Robert Acquafresca combined, so Alessandro Diamanti had all the time he needed to sweep home from 12 yards.
Napoli were continually wasting chances at the Dall’Ara, as Agliardi flapped at a messy Niccolo Cherubin header to deny an own goal.
Cavani sprung the offside trap to go one-on-one with Agliardi and his lob only clipped the crossbar of an open goal!
The Uruguayan wasted another great opportunity by running on to Pandev’s pass through the middle, but curled it inches wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Safir Taider replaced the injured Diego Perez in the Bologna line-up, while Lavezzi replaced Christian Maggio after the break, moving Pandev wide right.
Bologna had a potential penalty when Salvatore Aronica had his arms around Di Vaio on a corner, but the referee waved play on.
Lavezzi’s free kick skimmed the base of the near post and Napoli switched to a four-man defence. However, they left themselves open at the back and Bologna scored a second goal on the counter-attack with substitute Matteo Rubin running on to Di Vaio’s reverse pass to smash under the bar from a tight angle.
Agliardi flew to palm away a Hamsik cross-shot, then Camilo Zuniga miskicked from the edge of the box. However, Bologna threatened a third, as Di Vaio was one-on-one with Morgan De Sanctis and thumped the base of the near post.
Di Vaio wasted again, combining with Belfodil to drive wide of the upright from eight yards. To make matters worse for Napoli, Cavani was booked and will be suspended for the final match with Siena.
The tension got to Napoli and a brawl erupted after a Zuniga tackle, resulting in Blerim Dzemaili and Morleo’s red cards, although there was pushing and shoving from most of the teams.
Sent off: Dzemaili 89 (N), Morleo 89 (B)