Milan (AFP) – Venezia still have some hope of staying in Serie A for another year after Dennis Johnsen’s dramatic stoppage-time strike earned a thrilling 4-3 win over Bologna on Sunday.
Andrea Soncin’s team would have been sent down after just one season in Italy’s top flight had they failed to win but Norway international Johnsen maintained their status at least for a few more hours.
The 24-year-old’s thumping effort ended a 10-match losing streak for Venezia and moved them to within four points of Salernitana who sit just outside the drop zone and have the superior head-to-head record between the two teams.
In Serie A for the first time in nearly two decades, Venezia sit bottom of the league and await the result of the clash between in-form Salernitana and Cagliari to see whether their top-flight status would last at least one more week.
A Salernitana win later on Sunday would relegate Venezia as the gap between the two sides would be seven points with two matches left to play.
Salernitana are on a five-match unbeaten run which includes four wins and are on the brink of an incredible escape act after having been rooted to the bottom of the division for most of the season.
“I think that as long as there’s a theoretical chance that we can do it we just have to fight,” Johnsen told DAZN.
“We know it’s difficult but it’s still a possibility so we just have to fight like we did today.”
Bologna, who welcomed back coach Sinisa Mihajlovic after the Serb was discharged from hospital following leukemia treatment in the week, stay 13th.
The away side were livid at the decision to award the soft penalty which Mattia Aramu slotted home to level the scores 12 minutes from the end.
– ‘Inexplicable’ penalty –
Bologna had come back from going two goals down in the first 20 minutes to take the lead midway through the second half thanks to goals from Riccardo Orsolini, Marko Arnautovic and Jerdy Schouten.
But Aramu fell to the ground after the faintest of touches from Gary Medel and VAR confirmed a penalty decision which left Mihajlovic baffled.
“The penalty is inexplicable,” Mihajlovic told DAZN.
“Medel touches the ball first and then grazes Aramu’s foot and the contact isn’t even that clear. An age passes and then he falls over.
“The referee practically ran off the field at the final whistle, like he was trying to get away or had a dirty conscience.”
Earlier Atalanta kept up their bid for European football next season with a 3-1 win at Spezia which meant that their opponents are not yet safe from relegation.
Goals from Luis Muriel, Berat Djimsiti and Mario Pasalic took the three points for Atalanta on the Italian Riviera, moving Gian Piero Gasperini’s side up to seventh and in with a shout of Europa League football.
After three straight seasons of Champions League action the best Atalanta can hope for is Europe’s second-tier competition as they sit 10 points behind fourth-placed Juventus with two matches to play.
With Juve and league leaders Inter Milan contesting the Italian Cup final on Wednesday, the two Europa League spots can be earned through league placings.
Atalanta are level on points with Roma, who sit sixth and in the second Europa League berth ahead of their match at eighth-placed Fiorentina on Monday night.
Daniele Verdi’s well-taken leveller on the half-hour mark was not enough for Thiago Motta’s side, who can still be caught by both Cagliari and a Genoa team level on 28 points with the Sardinians.
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