Atalanta returns to Europe after 26 years; Spal promoted
ABS-CBN Sports on May 14, 2017 09:07 AM
(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer
ROME (AP) — Atalanta conceded a late equalizer and drew with regional rival AC Milan 1-1 in Serie A on Saturday but still celebrated its return to Europe after 26 years.
Atalanta is fifth, six points ahead of Milan with two rounds remaining.
The fourth- to sixth-placed clubs qualify for the Europa League, a competition that Atalanta has not participated in since 1991.
Gerard Deulofeu scored three minutes from time after Andrea Conti put Atalanta ahead just before halftime.
"It's a bit bitter. We conceded one error and Milan scored. But we achieved our goal," Atalanta striker Alejandro "Papu" Gomez said. "We started dreaming about Europe around Christmas and we've finally achieved our goal."
Meanwhile, Milan's winless streak extended to five matches.
Conti scored after Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma failed to collect a cross, while Deulofeu's shot deflected in off defender Andrea Masiello.
Atalanta is on course to finish ahead of both of the Milan clubs — AC Milan and Inter Milan — for the first time, and could also match its best finish of fifth in 1948.
Earlier, Fiorentina came from a goal down to beat visiting Lazio 3-2 and keep alive its hope of qualifying for the Europa League.
After Keita Balde Diao put Lazio ahead early in the second half, fellow Senegal international Khouma Babacar equalized for Fiorentina.
Nikola Kalinic gave Fiorentina the lead with a rebound, and an own goal from Cristiano Lombardi put Fiorentina up by two goals.
Alessandro Murgia pulled one back for Lazio in the 81st.
Lazio remained fourth while Fiorentina was seventh, one point behind Milan.
Also, Ferrara-based club Spal secured promotion back into Serie A after a 49-year absence.
The Serie B leader secured the celebration despite losing at Terni 2-1, because third-placed Frosinone also lost at Benevento.
With one round remaining, Spal held a two-point lead over Hellas Verona and was four points ahead of Frosinone.
Verona wasted a chance to secure promotion, drawing with Carpi 1-1.
The top two finishers are promoted directly while the third-place finisher can be promoted directly if it holds a 10-point lead over the fourth-placed club. Otherwise there is a playoff to determine the third promoted squad.
Frosinone is eight points ahead of fourth-place Citadella entering the final round.
Spal, which stands for Societa Polisportiva Ars et Labor, last competed in the top division in 1968.