Palermo's brief in Florence was simple. Win, or face almost certain relegation. Sadly, it was a brief left unfulfilled, as a 1-0 defeat against Fiorentina combined with Genoa drawing against Inter Milan to send the Sicilians down into Serie B. Fiorentina's victory ensures they stay in contention for the Champions League, a point off third place before AC Milan's game in hand.
The danger signs were evident almost straight from the kick-off for Palermo. Inside seven minutes Stefano Sorrentino was twice called into action, first on a Luca Toni diving header before Stevan Jovetić's curling effort was kept out at full stretch. Toni would head wide again after a quarter-of-an-hour, with winger Juan Cuadrado terrorising yet another defence with his quick feet and even quicker top speed.
However, the match wasn't all one-way traffic in its opening exchanges. In fact, Palermo should've scored the opening goal. A few minutes after Jasmin Kurtić's low fizzing shot was tipped away by Emiliano Viviano, Ezequiel Muñoz was left with a free header on a corner, though he powered the effort wide. Fiorentina had seemingly forgotten how to defend set-pieces entirely, with Muñoz given an identical chance a few minutes later. Unfortunately his finish -- or lack of one -- was identical too.
Luca Toni almost scored a spectacular goal at the other end after flicking a corner at the near post, though he could only find the side-netting. Slowly but surely, the viola machine was clicking and whirring into top speed. Manuel Pasqual and Stevan Jovetić took it in turns to curl free-kicks wide of Sorrentino's goal.
Pasqual fed Toni -- who was causing real problems for his former club -- with a cross inside the final ten minutes of the half, though the striker headed over. Just a few minutes later, he'd make amends. Borja Valero found Cuadrado out right, with the Colombian drilling a low ball across the box. Toni had maneuvered into the perfect position, and was left with a tap-in on the goal line for 1-0.
Half-time saw the heavens open, perhaps serving as a neat metaphor for Palermo's predicament. It continued to pour on into the second half, with the pitch becoming ever more waterlogged and the players ever more miserable. Palermo played with an alarming lack of urgency, with Viviano almost entirely untested into the second half, with Jovetić, Borja Valero and Luca Toni all going close for Fiorentina after the restart.
Muñoz had a rare chance for Palermo from -- you guessed it -- another corner, after Savić had failed to convert his header at the other end. Captain Fabrizio Miccoli had a late chance too, though he couldn't convert either. It was a horrible day for the rosanero, confirming they'll be playing next season in Serie B.
Fiorentina: Emiliano Viviano; Manuel Pasqual, Stefan Savić (Ahmed Hegazi 75), Gonzalo Rodríguez, Facundo Roncaglia; Borja Valero (Rômulo 83), David Pizarro, Matías Fernández; Stevan Jovetić, Luca Toni (Giulio Migliaccio 72), Juan Cuadrado
Palermo: Stefano Sorrentino; Ezequiel Muñoz, Massimo Donati, Steve Von Bergen; Santiago García, Jasmin Kurtič, Alejandro Faurlín (Giulio Sanseverino 79), Egidio Arévalo Rios (Nicolas Viola 58), Michel Morganella; Paulo Dybala, Abel Hernández (Fabrizio Miccoli 63)
Goals: Luca Toni 41 (F)