Sampdoria have the upper hand in the promotion play-off Final after Daniele Gastaldello struck twice in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Varese.
There was bad news from Varese before kick-off, as defender Christian Terlizzi picked up a suspected thigh strain during the warm-up.
It was a strong start from the home side, as Gianni Munari’s shot was charged down from point-blank range, Renan blasted inches over and Fabrizio Grillo risked an own goal by nodding a free kick away from Eder.
The Blucerchiati took the lead when a corner from the left found Gastaldello free to nod in, having squirmed away from his marker Alessandro Camisa.
The advantage lasted only four minutes, as Varese equalised with a stunning solo effort from Emmanuel Rivas. He dribbled forward, cut in past Gastaldello and curled a scorching right-foot finish into the far top corner.
Samp were repeatedly threatening from corners and free kicks, where Varese’s defending left a lot to be desired, while Sergio Romero smothered efforts from Daniele Corti and Jasmin Kurtic.
The Blucerchiati restored their lead straight after the restart, as Pedro Obiang’s long ball from midfield was not dealt with at all by Magnus Troest, whose mis-kicked clearance deflected it into the path of Nicola Pozzi, who kept his cool to slide low past the goalkeeper.
Eder tested Walter Bressan at the near post moments later, but Varese would not give in and got back on level terms for a second time. It was a long move with several efforts before Giuseppe De Luca was finally able to tap in from six yards.
Roberto Soriano should’ve made it 3-2 for Sampdoria on 74 minutes, but ballooned over the bar when favoured by an Eder dummy.
Varese’s defending from set plays let them down again as captain Gastaldello was allowed to nod in another corner from six yards, rising above the crowd.
A long Kurtic free kick was only cleared to the edge of the box where Enis Nadarevic blasted just over.
The second leg is on the evening of Saturday June 9, 19.45 UK time.
Due to the format of these play-offs, Samp currently have three points. If Varese win the second leg, then promotion will be decided by goal difference. The away goals rule does not apply.
If the teams still cannot be separated, then Varese will go into Serie A, as they ended the season higher up the table.
Sampdoria 3-2 Varese
Scorers: Gastaldello 21, 81 (S), Rivas 25 (V), Pozzi 47 (S), De Luca 56 (V)
Sampdoria: Romero; Rispoli, Gastaldello, Rossini, Costa; Munari (Soriano 58), Obiang (Pelle 75), Renan; Foggia (Juan Antonio 60); Eder, Pozzi
Varese: Bressan; Cacciatore, Camisa, Troest, Grillo; Zecchin, Corti, Kurtic, Rivas (Nadarevic 70); Neto Pereira (Martinetti 67), De Luca (Damonte 78)
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk