Sunday May 8 2016
Serie A Review: Old Man sinks Old Lady

Luca Toni bowed out by ending the Juventus run and Roma’s race with Napoli goes to the wire, writes Paul Hill.

Demonstrating the same class and confidence shown throughout his career, Luca Toni effortlessly slotted home a Panenka-style penalty in his final ever game, as bottom of the table Hellas Verona put an end to Champions elect Juventus’ astounding run of 25 wins and a draw.

Possibly the last great No 9 to come out of the peninsula, few Juventus fans will begrudge him having the chance to portray his famous celebration one last time. As the World Cup winner retires, the national team faces a monumental struggle to find a player anywhere near his ability these days.

What The Azzurri would give for Argentina’s riches in that position, with Paulo Dybala (another penalty scorer in Toni’s last match) and Gonzalo Higuain both unable to even get in their country’s first XI.

The latter is the only man to have matched Toni’s 30 goals in a season since 2006 and continued his breath-taking form this year with his 33rd goal securing a 2-1 win for Napoli in an emotional night in Turin.

Roma refuse to leave the race for second, however, with the capital club registering a 3-0 win earlier in the day at home to Chievo in Francesco Totti’s 600th match for the club. The captain again showed age shall not wither the ability to pick out a perfect first-time pass.

It was a day of tributes and farewells, as Gianpaolo Bellini got to score a rare penalty in Atalanta’s 1-1 draw with Udinese, the captain bidding goodbye after an entire lifetime in Bergamo. It was his 429th appearance for the Orobici in all competition, a fitting way to step aside.

Manuel Pasqual isn’t retiring yet, but was in tears as he played his last game at the Stadio Franchi. After 11 years, Fiorentina will not offer him a new contract. Palermo's veteran Alberto Gilardino was celebrating a point that puts them in the driving seat for safety, despite Maurizio Zamparini's best efforts.

There were tributes at the Matusa too, where Frosinone fans showed great sportsmanship – sadly a very rare sight in Serie A – to thank their players despite relegation. It was their first ever top flight campaign and only the woodwork prevented them getting a goal against Sassuolo.

Carpi have to wait until the anxious final round to know if they’ll be heading straight back down to Serie B as well. Jerry Mbakogu managed the unenviable feat of wasting two penalties in a 3-1 home defeat to nine-man Lazio. If they are relegated, it’s not hard to guess who’ll get much of the blame.

Over in Liguria, one of Calcio’s great spectacles took place in the form of the Derby della Lanterna. Genoa ran out comfortable 3-0 winners with Leonardo Pavoletti again scoring and putting in a fantastic performance, which begs the question why has he not earnt his first international cap yet?

The former Sassuolo man and his teammates have finished the season in terrific form and look set for a top half finish to a season that was once threatened with relegation. They’ll finish above their arch rivals and have the satisfaction of plunging Sampdoria into crisis.

If it’s possible to be in crisis even after a victory, then the two Milan clubs have achieved it. Roberto Mancini’s men are guaranteed Europa League football after beating Empoli, though few felt like celebrating and players piled in with post-match complaints.

Cristian Brocchi’s Rossoneri scraped a victory at 10-man Bologna and remain in seventh place behind Sassuolo. It’s increasingly likely their entire campaign will come down to the Coppa Italia Final against Juventus on May 21. At least Juve have lost some of that sheen of invincibility courtesy of Toni.

Have your say...
@ McLupo. Well said. Long live the Leicester City spirit which was allowed to happen in a spirit of honesty and fairness.
on the 11th May, 2016 at 7:10am
After the referee awadrded the penalty to Hellas Verona, Bonucci, again him, was screaming with abuse, threats, and intimidation at him, no one reported it despite the fact that all cameras filmed the incident.
I wonder what would happen if a Napoli player behaves in the same manner?
Long live the Leicester City spirit.
on the 10th May, 2016 at 4:45pm
@ Maradonamac - and TS print basically lies. I would not even believe the results they print.
on the 10th May, 2016 at 4:44am
Farewell to a great striker.

The match went pretty bad, though. It's not the first time the team played this badly, even when the title wasn't secured nor during that horrible start. I second-guessed signing yet another midfielder, but it seems that we need it mainly for creativity. Zaza as well needs to calm down a little, great workrate but too reckless. He nearly got sent-off yet again for striker challenges, I'd almost wish it was for diving.
on the 9th May, 2016 at 10:10pm
I know Tuttosport is a Juve Biased newspaper, but for their main headline to be about a potential transfer in the summer, rather than celebrating Toni is a disgrace.
Every weeks it's Juve this, Juve that. Even when the world was celebrating Ranieri, Tuttosport was full of Juve.
Joke of a paper.
on the 9th May, 2016 at 3:43pm
Toni 4 life
on the 9th May, 2016 at 3:14pm
Luca Toni is the one who is sunk.He is going to serie B.

The old lady is rising.they have just won their fifth title in a row.
on the 9th May, 2016 at 9:47am
Grazie Luca!!!!!
on the 9th May, 2016 at 6:59am

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