Empoli vs Roma 2-1: Niang Late Strike Salvages Azzurri Serie A Status

Davide Nicola did it again! Led by the Turin-born gaffer, Empoli avoided relegation at the last breath as a stoppage time winner from Mbaye Niang set the score at 2-1 against Roma on Sunday night. Nicola thus managed to save a club from relegation for the fifth time, after having helped Crotone, Torino, Genoa, and Salernitana maintain their spot in the top-flight. 

This is the third time in a row that Empoli manage to escape relegation. They will feature in the Italian top-flight for the fourth season straight for the first time in their history.  

Niang’s strike gave the Azzurri the three points they needed at the Carlo Castellani Stadium after Houssem Aouar had cancelled Matteo Cancellieri’s opener. The Azzurri were the masters of their own destiny tonight as a win would have been enough to salvage their spot in Serie A. But Roma showed no intention to make their job easy despite having nothing left to fight for as Daniele De Rossi and his boys had already secured a Europa League spot for next season. 

Empoli’s stronger motivation resulted in the Azzurri taking the lead early on. Cancellieri scored his fourth season goal from an Emmanuel Gyasi assist, finalizing for the best a fine counterattack. 

However, Roma were quick to react. They should have equalized just five minutes later as Bryan Cristante tapped the ball in after Elia Caprile made a spectacular double save, but the midfielder was eventually ruled offside. Still, the Giallorossi drew level during the first half added time. It was Aouar to head the ball home from an Angelino cross from the left. 

The Algeria international was incredibly left alone in the middle of the box and did not hesitate to push Empoli back down into the relegation nightmare. 

Nicola introduced Niang after the half time break and eventually also added Francesco Caputo and Nicolò Cambiaghi upfront. The Azzurri were playing with four strikers when a fabulous Razvan Marin shot from sidereal distance hit the crossbar, adding to the home side’s woes.

Stephan El Shaarawy scored again for Roma, yet his winning effort was immediately disallowed on grounds of offside. The whole Carlo Castellani Stadium breathed a sigh of relief. 

Then, on 93 minutes, Niang scored perhaps the most important goal of his career. The 30-year-old veteran, who had joined Empoli in January with the exact task of increasing the Azzurri‘s offensive potential, whipped the ball past the hapless Mile Svilar with a clinical right foot strike, making the best out of a brilliant Cancellieri pass.

Niang’s goal kept the Azzurri in Serie A for an unprecedented fourth season. It also resulted in Frosinone, who lost 0-1 to Udinese in a dramatic relegation play-out, being relegated to Serie B alongside Sassuolo and Salernitana.

For “salvation specialist” Nicola, who had taken the Tuscan side’s reins after both Paolo Zanetti and Aurelio Andreazzoli were sacked earlier in the season, this is yet another miracle under his belt.   



May 26, 2024 – Serie A 2023/2024 Round 38

SCORERS: 13′ Cancellieri (E), 45’+1′ Aouar (R), 93′ Niang (E)

EMPOLI (3-5-2): Caprile; Bereszynski (67’ Caputo), Ismajli, Luperto; Gyasi (46’ Walukiewicz), Bastoni (55’ Fazzini), Marin, Maleh (77’ Cambiaghi), Cacace; Destro (46’ Niang), Cancellieri (Perisan, Seghetti, Berisha, Goglichidze, Pezzella, Kovalenko, Zurkowski, Shpendi) Coach: Nicola
ROMA (4-3-2-1): Svilar; Celik, Mancini, Ndicka, Angelino; Bove, Cristante, Aouar (70’ Pellegrini); Dybala (88’ Joao Costa), Zalewski (79’ El Shaarawy); Abraham (70’ Azmoun) (Rui Patricio, Boer, Karsdorp, Huijsen, Smalling, Llorente, Kristensen, Baldanzi, Pagano, Pisilli) Coach: De Rossi
REFEREE: Mr. Massa from Imperia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Gyasi, Destro, Marin, Niang (E), Joao Costa (R); Added Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 5′