Veteran Quagliarella equals Ronaldo goals as Samp stay in Euro hunt


Rome (AFP)

Fabio Quagliarella joined Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the Serie A scoring charts on Sunday as his brace took him to 19 goals for the season and kept Sampdoria in a tight race for European football next season.

Veteran striker Quagliarella, 36, has already matched his league tally for last season after striking twice early in the first half to down strugglers SPAL 2-1 in a tight match.

"I don't feel like anyone special," said modest Quagliarella after the match.

The Italian, recently recalled to the Italy set up after an incredible season that saw him equal Gabriel Batistuta's record of scoring in 11 consecutive Serie A matches last month, downplayed his scintillating personal form.

"I'm not the star man, I'm part of a team that works towards a single objective, everyone is useful and no-one is indispensible."

SPAL were livid when Sergio Floccari's second half goal was ruled out for the tightest of offsides by the video assistant referee (VAR) system.

The home side's hardcore fans started leaving the ground 20 minutes before the end in protest, having suffered a freakish decision last month when a goal of theirs against Fiorentina was ruled out and a penalty given for the Viola after a VAR review.

"We're going through an unfortunate patch with refereeing decisions, I think the Floccari decision was an excessive use of VAR," said SPAL coach Leonardo Semplici.

Jasmin Kurtic eventually pulled one back for the hosts deep in injury time, three minutes before Thiago Cionek was sent off for clattering Gregoire Defrel while the Frenchman raced towards goal, but Quagliarella's goals were enough for the three points.

- Torino in Euro charge -

Thanks to the win Samp move a point ahead of ninth-placed Atalanta, who host Fiorentina later on Sunday, and stay two behind Torino in the hunt for European football after the "Granata" beat rock-bottom Chievo 3-0 with a 76th goal from Andrea Belotti and two stoppage time strikes from Tomas Rincon and Simone Zaza.

Unbeaten in six, Walter Mazzarri's Torino are level on 41 points with sixth-placed Lazio, who occupy the last Europa League spot after hammering cross-town rivals Roma in a dominating Rome derby display on Saturday evening.

Victory at the Stadio Olimpico for Lazio, which came thanks to goals from Felipe Caicedo, Ciro Immobile from the spot and Danilo Cataldi, pulled them within six points of fourth-placed Inter, with AC Milan one point further ahead in third after beating Sassuolo earlier on Saturday.

Ignacio Pussetto's winner 11 minutes from time in a 2-1 win over third-from-bottom Bologna saw Udinese move up to 15th, seven points clear of their opponents on Sunday and the relegation zone.

Bologna are four points from safety after the defeat, only one ahead of Frosinone in 19th, who held mid-table Genoa to a goalless draw despite having to play with 10 men for nearly an hour.

Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli host runaway leaders Juventus in Sunday's late game hoping to close the gap between the pair to 10 points.