Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Lorenzo Vicini On May - 11 - 2011

Rosanero Roundup: Final Hope For Palermo

The Rosanero had been waiting for this week ever since the result procured by Palermo on April 20th against Milan in the Coppa Italia. With success in Serie A hard to come by, Delio Rossi and his men knew that the season would be defined by what they did in the Coppa. Prior to playing the second leg of the semifinal, Palermo had to play a largely meaningless game against the already relegated Bari side.

Knowing that the return leg awaited the squad in a few short days, Delio Rossi composed a team featuring a large number of reserve players with a few of the regulars for good measure. With Bari already confirmed for Serie B next season and Palermo possessing virtually no possibility of improving their position in the league table, the game took on a very friendly, open atmosphere.

For the fourth consecutive game, the Sicilians conceded a goal in the opening ten minutes of the match, allowing lowly Bari to enjoy a shock lead. The Galletti played carefree and entertaining football and missed out on several opportunities to double their lead. It came as no surprise then that Fabrizio Miccoli - a diehard Lecce supporter and bitter rival to Bari - made Mutti’s men pay the price by drawing Palermo level six minutes before halftime. Shortly after the break, the Rosanero would go in front - this time through Cesare Bovo - and never look back.

Bari wasted a glorious chance to tie the game but were denied by a miraculous save from Sirigu. On the other end, Palermo were awarded a penalty and could have put the game to bed, but Miccoli attempted to embarrass his opponents only to have his chipped effort calmly caught by the keeper. There were a couple more chances for both sides but the game would finish in favor of Palermo, 2-1.

With league play out of the way, all eyes turned on the fixture on May 10th. As Delio Rossi stated in the pre-match press conference, Palermo had an opportunity to enter history by qualifying for their third ever Coppa Italia final. Bolstered by the 2-2 draw earned at the San Siro, all that stood in their way were 90 more minutes against Milan in front of the Renzo Barbera faithful. Recent Scudetto winners Milan were also committed to reaching the final. After all, in their long, glorious history, the Rossoneri had never achieved the domestic double despite their impressive trophy haul.

In front of a sellout crowd at the Barbera, Palermo began their quest. Milan, in need of a win, pressed forward from the start, controlling possession and the run of play while Palermo sat back and invited pressure, hoping to exploit Allegri’s men on the counter. It was a nervous opening for the Rosanero as they tried desperately to prevent an early goal for the fifth consecutive match. Their compact defense and attentiveness was rewarded as Palermo made it through the first half without conceding a goal. Both sides had decent opportunities in the opening 45 minutes, but the score remained 0-0 at the break.

Palermo came out with more confidence in the second half, playing more freely against the Serie A champions and on 63 minutes, they would find their breakthrough. From an Ilicic corner, Palermo’s gladiator and unsung hero Giulio Migliaccio beat Thiago Silva to the ball and his diving header beat Abbiati off the inside of the post and into the net. The players and fans erupted with joy and Palermo inched ever closer to the final.

Only ten minutes later, the Rosanero would grab another. After missing out on the final ball for the entire match, Palermo finally managed to successfully convert one through none other than Javier Pastore. The Argentinian playmaker led a brilliant counterattack and threaded a sublime ball to Josip Ilicic behind the Milan defense. As the Slovenian burst into the box alone on goal, he was brought down from behind by Mark Van Bommel. The Dutchman was sent off for his foul and Cesare Bovo converted the penalty to give Palermo a 2-0 lead with under 20 minutes remaining. Shockingly enough, Bovo was sent off two minutes later for an unnecessary high challenge on Pato.

Milan poured forward, needing two goals just to force extra time. Ibrahimovic had an effort that beat Sirigu but unluckily strike both posts before being cleared. As the game approached stoppages, it looked increasingly likely that Palermo would be heading to the final. However, Ibrahimovic would create a scare in Rosanero hearts when he cut the lead in half. Yet, his goal would come too late as Palermo hung on for the final two minutes to book their place in the Coppa Italia final for the first time since 1979.

The celebrations that ensued in Palermo were a demonstration of just how much the final meant to the team and its supporters. After a season filled with disappointment and missed opportunities, the club has a big reason to smile again. As he had done a year before, Delio Rossi delivered another gem not only for the club but for the city itself. When he was sacked, all hope was lost; ever since his return, faith has been restored. Palermo now sit on the precipice of something truly magical, a final hope, a date set with destiny: May 29, 2011. The Coppa Italia final.

  • Ted

    Good luck to Palermo!
    Beat Inter!!

    • Piccirriddu

      Ted, we finally agree on something! haha!

      Fair play to Milan though. I’m glad Ibrahimovic was only to play the short amount of minutes he did. He’s a Palermo killer.

      Congrats on the Scudetto and now, Forza Palermo!

  • Ted

    Ibra had a legit penalty….if I’m being honest.

  • Rob

    What a story this season has presented to Palermo. In the face of so much adversity it is wonderful that Palermo, a team that plays with its heart and soul, make it to the Coppa final. Of course, Inter will be a formidable opponent, but the hunger Palermo has for victory may well lead to purchase a trophy cabinet to house their newly earned silverware. FORZA PALERMO!!!!

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