Palermo vs. Udinese, Final Score 2-3: Rosanero all but relegated

Paolo Bruno

After an action-packed defeat at home to Udinese, Palermo are on the brink of relegation to Serie B.

It was billed as a must-win for Palermo, and they played like it was too. For most of the match they were throwing everything at Udinese, desperately trying to win the game. But, in a cruel twist of fate, the rosanero ended up conceding three unfortunate goals, leaving captain Fabrizio Miccoli collapsed in tears at the final whistle. With a four point gap to surmount in the final two games, they're all but in Serie B already. Udinese, meanwhile, leapfrog Roma into the second Europa League place.

Palermo had the first chance of the match inside the opening ten minutes, when Edgar Barreto drilled a low shot towards goal from the edge of the area. Only a diving stop from Željko Brkić kept it out. Then, as has so often been the case, Palermo's defending let them down. A minute later Udinese were ahead, exploiting a momentary lapse down the left. Luis Muriel skipped into the area and beyond a defender, smashing the ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.

Palermo looked slightly rattled, and though they were still generally in control, they struggled to create chances. Only a smart save from goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino kept out an Antonio Di Natale free-kick from the edge of the boxjust short of the half-hour. Five minutes later the rosanero were given a great chance, as Fabrizio Miccoli was brought down in the area. Brkić dived the right way, though Miccoli's penalty was accurate enough to clip the woodwork before hitting the back of the net. The scores were level.

They now had the momentum, and thought they'd scored again with just over five minutes remaining of the half. Andrea Dossena was on hand to tap-in a rebound from a deep Josip Iličić cross, only for his goal to be chalked off for offside. Fortunately Palermo retained their sense of urgency into the second half, and Miccoli almost scored right after the restart, though his shot sailed over the bar from inside the area.

Then, disaster struck. A handball in the area by Salvatore Aronica meant Palermo -- who had been dominating -- conceded a penalty. Antonio Di Natale stepped up and looked certain to fire his team in front. However, his spot-kick was shockingly poor, and was saved by Sorrentino. Ten minutes later it paled into insignificance, as Gabriele Angella leaped to head in a corner. Udinese had the lead again regardless.

With just over 20 minutes to go, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu should've sealed the win. He was slipped through on goal and lashed the ball first-time from inside the area -- only for his shot to come crashing off the woodwork. Palermo had been handed a lifeline, and it was one that Abel Hernández made count. With ten minutes remaining he fired a rocket from outside the box into the net, leveling the scores at 2-2.

Palermo were now looking for a winning goal, committing men forward. If there was to be a winner, it looked sure to be theirs. Then came the final kick in the teeth. Luis Muriel's shot was spilled in the area by Sorrentino, falling for Udinese centre-back Mehdi Benatia. All that was left for the Moroccan to do was stab it into the net, and confirm victory. A bitter pill to swallow for Palermo, after a performance which seemed to merit at least a point.

Palermo: Stefano Sorrentino; Salvatore Aronica, Steve von Bergen, Ezequiel Muñoz; Andrea Dossena (Santiago García 71), Jasmin Kurtič (Abel Hernández 67), Alejandro Faurlin (Egidio Arévalo Rios 78), Edgar Barreto, Michel Morganella; Fabrizio Miccoli, Josip Iličić

Udinese: Željko Brkić; Thomas Heurteaux, Gabriele Angella, Mehdi Benatia; Gabriel Silva, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Allan, Roberto Perreyra, Dušan Basta; Antonio Di Natale (Piotr Zielinski 68), Luis Muriel (Matthias Ranégie 92)

Goals: Muriel 10 (U) Miccoli pen 36 (P) Angella 64 (U) Hernández 81 (P) Benatia 83 (U)

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