Hellas Verona vs Catania, final score 4-0: Toni puts Catania on the brink of Serie B

Dino Panato

Catania have one foot in Serie B, following a heavy 4-0 loss at Hellas Verona.

Verona did the damage with three first half goals, including a brace from Luca Toni to take the veteran frontman onto 20 goals for the season. Hellas remain in the mix for the Europa League. At the other end of the scale, Catania are five points adrift at the foot of the table with just three games left to play.

Maurizio Pellegrino had won his first game in charge last weekend, but the former youth team manager was brought back down to earth with a nasty bump at the Bentegodi.

Jacopo Sala and Marco Donadel returned to the Hellas lineup after suspension. Midfield trio Massimo Donati, Romulo and Raphael Martinho were all injured.

Alberto Frison continued to deputise for the injured Mariano Andujar in the Sicilian goal. Giuseppe Bellusci and Sergio Almiron also missed the trip, although Fabian Rinaudo and Alexis Rolin returned from suspension.

Rolin risked a red card when he brought down Juan Iturbe inside the first 45 seconds. Frison was immediately called into action, palming over the resulting Marquinho free kick. The hosts did open the scoring on six minutes. Iturbe's electric pace took him past Rolin once again, Frison could only parry the Argentine's shot and the rebound fell into the path of a grateful Toni, who tucked the ball away.

Catania squandered a rare chance to equalise midway through the first half. Sebastian Leto found himself all alone and was denied by Rafael's outstretched foot.

Toni thought he had grabbed a second goal when he slid in to volley an Emil Hallfredsson free kick. Play was called back with replays clearly showing the 36-year-old in an offside position. The veteran did grab his second on 28 minutes. Catania failed to clear a corner and Sala's cross from the byline was headed in off the underside of the bar.

Iturbe was still feeling the effects of Rolin's early tackle and limped off eight minutes before the break. Rolin wasted a free header from a corner and Toni missed a glorious chance to claim a hat trick. Donadel's free kick bounced off the wall and kindly into Toni's path, but the striker somehow hooked the ball over from eight yards.

Storm clouds started to gather over the Bentegodi and Catania's mood darkened when Verona added a third on half time. Juanito Gomez Taleb's vision produced a perfect crossfield pass for Marquinho. The on loan Roma forward took a touch inside the box and sent an angled drive into the far corner. Frison prevented a fourth goal straight from the kickoff when he tipped Juanito's header onto the post.

Catania didn't show much improvement after the break. Leto sent a weak shot straight at Rafael. Marquinho should have added a fourth, but rolled his effort just past the far post after being put through by Sala.

The Sicilians simply gave up and gifted Verona with a fourth goal 15 minutes from time. Sala seized upon a poor clearance and provided an assist for Juanito to curl past Frison into the far corner. A disappointed Toni was taken off and the veteran voiced his displeasure at being denied the chance of a hat trick. Toni's replacement, Daniele Cacia had an effort deflected wide in stoppage time. From the resulting corner, Michelangelo Albertazzi headed into the side netting. The referee finally called time to put Catania out of their misery.

Hellas Verona: Rafael; Pillud, Moras, Marques, Albertazzi; Sala, Donadel, Hallfredsson; Iturbe, (Juanito Gomez Taleb 37) Toni, (Cacia 76) Marquinho (Jankovic 64)

Goals: Toni 6, 28 Marquinho 45 Juanito Gomez Taleb 75

Catania: Frison; Peruzzi, Spolli, (Gyomber 46) Rolin, Monzon; (Biraghi 81) Plasil, Lodi, Rinaudo; Leto, Bergessio, (Caruso 65) Barrientos

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