Spezia vs Verona 1-3: Gialloblu Survive Play-Off Dogfight

Verona secured their survival with an enthralling 3-1 victory over Spezia in the Serie A relegation play-off on Sunday at Mapei Stadium. A game that saw four goals, a red card and a missed penalty, the final matchup of the season wrapped up a wonderful Serie A campaign as Verona take their place in the Italian top flight once more next term.

Action-Packed Opening Between Spezia & Verona

Arguably against the run of the play during opening phases, it was Verona who went in front as Davide Faraoni was credited with the goal. Darko Lazovic had advanced superbly down the left-hand side before finding the arriving Faraoni on the edge of the box. The shot should have been cleared by Ethan Ampadu as he attempted to clear but the Chelsea loanee would turn the ball into his own net. A pivotal error.

There was a good tempo and intensity to start the match and Arkadiusz Reca had a decent attempt for Spezia as they sought to draw the scores level. It would narrowly miss the mark. However, Ampadu would make up for his earlier mistake soon after as he made it 1-1 15 minutes in. The Wales international had an element of luck as his strike took multiple deflections on its way into the top left corner.

The ferocious nature of the battle continued as referee Daniele Orsato brandished three yellow cards for Marco Zaffaroni‘s side after half an hour of play. The action would also resume as Milan Djuric and Cyril Ngonge combined well, before the latter restored Verona’s advantage. A thrilling start to the Serie A relegation play-off. 

Ngonge Strikes, Nzola Fails

The riveting first half encounter wasn’t over there as Ngonge found his second of the night to put the Gialloblu 3-1 up with over five minutes still left to play. The Belgian showed excellent composure to take the ball past Ampadu before beating ‘keeper Bartlomiej Dragowski at his near post.

After the break, Szymon Zurkowski forced Verona ‘keeper Lorenzo Montipo into making a wonderful save down low to his right. A significant stop that could have allowed Spezia back into the match if he wasn’t able to deny the Pole.

Serie A never fails to disappoint in terms of producing drama. There was a brief hiatus in the match as a flair entered the pitch midway through the second half. Spezia continued to push as they fought desperately to get back into the game but failed to capitalize on a crucial opportunity.

Verona failed to deal with a long ball from deep which almost saw Spezia pull a goal back but opening goalscorer Faraoni battered the ball away with his hand to stop a certain goal. Orsato’s busy night would resume as Faraoni inevitably saw red and the Aquilotti awarded a penalty. Talisman M’Bala Nzola failed to execute from the spot, though, failing to beat Montipo with a poor effort. It was not Spezia’s night.

Montipo Verona Hero

Leonardo Semplici’s men continued to pile on the pressure in what was a chaotic game from start to finish with sub-par defending from either side. Montipo excelled for Verona, however, and was able to thwart numerous attempts from the Spezia onslaught. Ampadu was able denied by the bar late on as a difficult night for the Aquilotti would head towards its conclusion. They could do seemingly nothing to stop their awaiting relegation.

It was celebration for the Gialloblu, nevertheless, as they wrapped up their status in Serie A with a hard-fought but deserved triumph over their releagtion rivals. It was a match that epitomized an engaging relegation scrap between Spezia and Verona all season.