Livorno squeaked a potentially decisive relegation battle with Bologna, despite ending with nine men.
This was a real six-pointer between teams in 17th and 18th place. Livorno’s confidence was crushed after fumbling a 2-0 lead at Sampdoria to lose 4-2 last week, while Bologna had two points from the last four rounds and failed to score in nine of their last 13 games in all competition. Andrea Luci was the only absentee for the hosts, but Ibson and Francesco Della Rocca were out for the Rossoblu.
Paulinho’s diving header whistled just wide on a Marco Benassi cross, but Bologna lost Panagiotis Kone to injury after just 16 minutes.
Robert Acquafresca’s finish was too timid to beat Francesco Bardi, but the Livorno goalkeeper was forced to fly in order to palm away a Lazaros Christodoulopoulos free kick.
Innocent Emeghara came off the bench at half-time and within 70 seconds had set up a goal, as he burst down the right and pulled back for a Marco Benassi angled drive that nutmegged a defender to go into the far bottom corner.
Bologna were now desperately pouring forward with a series of shots charged down and Bardi palming a deflected cross over the bar.
However, they left themselves wide open at the back and Livorno doubled their lead with a counter-attack. Greco and Benassi combined to set up Paulinho, who dribbled round Gianluca Curci to deposit into the empty net.
Marco Biagianti lost possession and Davide Moscardelli’s finish skimmed the upright, then Emeghara tried to set up Paulinho again but was intercepted.
Ibrahima Mbaye left Livorno with 10 men in the final minutes with his second yellow card for a handling offence.
It was soon nine men, as Emeghara received his second booking for hauling back Archimede Morleo in the box. Christodoulopoulos converted the resulting penalty to give Bologna hope in the final minutes.
It was a siege on Benassi’s goal, but Livorno gave it everything to cling to the slender lead.
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Sent off: Mbaye 80 (L), Emeghara 85 (L)