Empoli grabbed their first away win of the season and a precious three points to keep their safety hopes alive, as Sampdoria capitulated.
The Blucerchiati were comfortably mid-table and out of the running for Europe, but Empoli were in the bottom three and desperate for points to avoid joining Frosinone and Chievo in Serie B.
Omar Colley sat out a ban with Joachim Andersen injured and Gregoire Defrel pulled out in the warm-up, making way for Manolo Gabbiadini. Empoli’s injury list included Antonino La Gumina, Levan Mchedlidze, Kevin Diks, Domenico Maietta and Luca Antonelli, but Francesco Caputo and Cristian Dell’Orco played through the pain.
Ciccio Caputo thought he’d done enough to give Empoli the lead after nine minutes, but his strike beat Emil Audero only to bounce off the base of the upright.
Bartlomiej Dragowski flew to fingertip a Jakub Jankto dipping volley out from under the bar, then pushed a diving Quagliarella header off the line at the back post.
Marko Pajac went on a dangerous counter and put the cross to the far stick only for Diego Farias to horribly volley over.
Farias made up for it moments later, as Junior Hamed Traore shrugged off Nicola Murru to go down the right side of the box and rolled across for Farias to tap in with a cheeky flick from six yards. Samp wanted the goal disallowed for a push on Murru, but the VAR booth judged it to be simply a greater show of strength.
Caprari fired over on a Quagliarella assist, but Farias ran into the box only to be brought down by a clumsy Lorenzo Tonelli challenge.
Caputo’s penalty was straight down the middle, parried by Audero, but Giovanni Di Lorenzo reacted far quicker than anyone else to turn in the rebound and double Empoli’s lead.
Traore needed a goal-line clearance to keep Empoli’s clean sheet in the final minutes, repelling a Gaston Ramirez header from a corner.
However, right at the start of six minutes of tense stoppages, Frederic Veseli tripped Marco Sau to give Sampdoria a penalty. Quagliarella converted powerfully into the near bottom corner, despite Dragowski guessing the right angle, taking his Serie A season tally to 26 goals.
Empoli clung on under late pressure for these precious three points, their first away victory of the campaign.
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Saved penalty: Caputo 75 (E)