Sampdoria Beats Palermo To Fourth In Italy With 1-0 Win Over Napoli

Sampdoria's 1-0 win over Napoli Sunday at the Luigi Ferraris puts the Genoa club into position to qualify for UEFA Champions League, having sewn up fourth place in Italy with their season-ending win over the Partenopei.

Sixth place Napoli came into the match unbeaten in four, giving fifth place Palermo hope to overtake Sampdoria should they win at Atalanta.  Were it not for the first half work of Samp 'keeper Marco Storari, whose late first half save on Napoli striker Fabio Quagliarella keep the match scoreless at intermission.

Seven minutes after break, Giampaolo Pazzin headed home Reto Ziegler's set piece service to give Sampdoria a 1-0 lead.  More solid play from Storari kept Quagliarella an Andrea Dossena from equalizing, giving Sampdoria fourth place.

Coming into the day with a two point lead over Palermo, Samp needed a victory, with Palermo likely to get three points at relegation-destined Atalanta.  Though it took a late penalty kick from Edison Cavani, his second goal of the match, the Aguile were able to overcome absence of leading scorer Fabrizio Miccoli and get their three points.

But by the time the Uruguayan's second goal had gone in, Palermo was already aware that Sampdoria was destined for Champions League, Pazzini's goal giving Luigi del Neri's men their sixth win in seven matches, extending their unbeaten streak to eight.

It is the first time Sampdoria has qualified for Champions League since winning the Serie A in 1990-91.  In 1991-92 they were runners-up in Champions League but have since fell upon more difficult times, including relegation at the end of the 1998-99 season.  

Having fallen to 13th place last season, Samp brought in del Nieri from Atlanta, with the coach subsequently leading the club to their best finish since the 1993-94 season, when they finished third.

Sampdoria now goes into Champions League qualifying this fall, where they will need to win one two-legged tie against another qualifier before heading into the competition's group stage.

They finish the season two points above Palermo, who have never qualified for Champions League, though their fifth place finish puts them into Europa League in Delio Rossi's first year in charge.  Palermo last finished this well in 2006-07, when they also finished fifth, three point behind fourth place Milan.

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