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Bologna close in on Champions League with Napoli win

By AFP

May 11, 2024 11:38 PM


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Bologna took a huge step towards Champions League qualification on Saturday after winning 2-0 at dejected Napoli, whose miserable season as Serie A titleholders nears its end.

Early headers from Dan Ndoye and Stefan Posch were enough for Thiago Motta's Bologna to move third, above Juventus, and go seven points ahead of sixth-placed Roma, with a top-five finish enough for a spot in Europe's top club competition.

Roma are at fifth-placed Atalanta -- who have a game in hand -- on Sunday night with the pair level on 60 points, and anything but a win for the capital club will guarantee Bologna a place in the Champions League.

Bologna played one match in the old European Cup in 1964, the same year they won the last of their seven league titles, but have never featured in the modern Champions League.

The only negative note on a great evening for Bologna was star forward Joshua Zirkzee limping off in tears with what looked like a thigh injury.

Dutchman Zirkzee, who is yet to claim a senior cap for his country with Euro 2024 around the corner, was consoled by team-mates in the Bologna dug-out.

Napoli were loudly booed off at half-time and at the final whistle by livid fans who have watched their team slump from Scudetto winners last season to eighth this term.

The hosts had a chance to get back into the game when Victor Osimhen won a soft penalty in the 20th minute, but Federico Ravaglia pushed away Matteo Politano's poor spot-kick.

There will be more fan discontent later on Saturday when AC Milan host Cagliari, who are battling to avoid relegation, in their penultimate home game of the campaign.

Supporters at the San Siro will continue the silent protest they started at last weekend's exciting home draw with Genoa.

Milan, winless in six in all competitions, are second in Serie A and reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

But fan discontent stems from the 21 points which separate Milan from champions and local rivals Inter Milan, who secured their 20th league title by winning their local derby last month.

That, and being dumped out of the Europa League by fellow Italians Roma, angered supporters and means Stefano Pioli, the man who guided Milan to the 2022 Serie A title, will be dismissed at the end of the season after nearly five years at the helm.


AFP


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