Lecce Thriller Ends In Relegation As Genoa Cruise Past Verona

Despite Lecce’s best efforts in their 4-3 defeat at home to Parma, a 3-0 win for Genoa at home to Verona saw Lecce relegated on the final day of the Serie A season.

The fates of SPAL and Brescia have long been confirmed but going into the final round of Serie A fixtures there was just a single point separating Genoa and Lecce. It was the latter who started the day in the drop zone and with a significant gap in goal difference, they needed a win, and needed Genoa not to win against a Verona side who’ve proved themselves to be a solid Serie A outfit this season.

Lecce however got off to a terrible start against Parma – they were two goals behind after 24 minutes thanks to a desperately unlucky and unavoidable own goal from Fabio Lucioni, before Gianluca Caprari scored a fine goal from the edge of the box after missing an easier one just minutes before, looping and curling the ball over the Brazilian Gabriel in goal for Lecce.

But the home side gave themselves a fighting chance. Marco Mancosu capitalized on some poor Parma defending to tee up Antonin Barak for a close-range header before another headed goal put them on level terms. This time, it was Biagio Meccariello rising above the Parma defense after a well-worked Lecce corner.

Level at the break, Lecce’s dogged defending would see them concede another two goals within half-an-hour of the restart – they finished the season with the worst defensive record in the league, having conceded 85 goals in total. On both occasions the Lecce defense seemed to open up for the Parma forwards. Andreas Cornelius finishing into an almost empty net after Antonino Barillà picked him out with a low cross, before Roberto Inglese confirmed Lecce’s fate, Barillà again providing the assist from the left-flank.

Two minutes after Parma’s fourth, Lecce had their third, and their third headed goal of the game too – Gianluca Lapadula pounced on a loose ball inside the box to give Lecce a fighting chance with his 11th Serie A goal of the season. But they wouldn’t trouble Parma in the final 20 minutes of the game, and Fabio Liverani’s side drop into Serie B after a disappointing showing throughout the campaign.

Genoa needed a win to secure their permanence in the Serie A and they did their job on Sunday night as they comfortably beat Verona 3-0

As for Genoa, they went into their home game against a solid Verona side who finished 9th-place in the end, but did so in bad spirits after losing their last tow games to-nil, conceding eight in the process against Inter and at Sassuolo. But their Serie A safety was all but confirmed after the first 45-minutes.

Verona had started the better on the night but the goal-rush was soon underway for Genoa – Antonio Sanabria got the ball rolling with a beautifully taken header, converting Luka Lerager’s looping cross from the right and giving Genoa the confidence to go on and score two more before the break.

The second came from Sanabria again, and another finely taken goal. He was slipped through a gaping Verona defense by North Macedonian stalwart Goran Pandev, before opening up his body to finish off the left-hand post to give Genoa a 2-0 lead, and to score his sixth goal of the Serie A season.

Another header would do the business for Genoa – Cristian Romero rose highest to fire a strong one past Verona goalkeeper Boris Radunovic, sealing the win and Genoa’s Serie A status going into the 2020-21 season.

Tempers would boil over in the second-half though, and in unusual fashion. Romero was the first man to be sent off and for a second bookable offense, but a needless injury time bust up between Verona’s Sofyan Amrabat and Genoa’s Francesco Cassata would see both men sent off, and Genoa finish the game with nine men.

All in all it was a solid win and one deserved of them keeping their place in Serie A. As for Lecce, they’ll join Brescia and SPAL in Serie B next season but, with the second-tier becoming ever competitive, who knows how they might fare next time round.

Feature Photo: Donato Fasano/Lapresse