AAP Soccer

Genoa safe as Lecce relegated from Serie A

By AAP Newswire

Genoa have secured safety on the final day of the longest Italian Serie A season, while Lecce dropped down to the second division.

Genoa beat Verona 3-0 on Sunday to finish four points ahead of Lecce and ensure a 14th consecutive season in the top Italian league.

Lecce lost 4-3 to Parma.

Brescia and SPAL had already been mathematically relegated.

The coronavirus-delayed season ended almost 12 months after it started on Aug. 24, 2019.

"The longest season in history ends today, in our country's most difficult year in recent memory," Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora said.

At the start of the lockdown in March, Italy was the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe and has now registered more than 35,000 deaths from COVID-19.

"During those weeks we really thought that the season should be stopped," Spadafora said.

"But thanks to the series of precautions we took and the seriousness of the protocols put in place by the Italian soccer federation, the season was not only able to restart but also be completed."

Due to the virus, the season was suspended for more than three months between March and June.

Juventus sealed a record-extending ninth straight title last weekend.

Antonio Sanabria scored twice for Genoa, who also got a goal from Cristian Romero.

Still, it was a nervous finish with Genoa losing two players to red cards and ending with nine men to Verona's 10.

"Safety was our primary goal. We worked hard for this and we won all the direct clashes (against struggling sides)," goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who joined Genoa on loan from Juventus in January, said.

"We clinched 28 points since the coach (Davide Nicola) arrived (with 21 matchdays left).

"Genoa is a glorious club and we are happy to have kept it in Serie A."

Lecce, who needed to win and hope that Genoa didn't, fought back from two goals down to equalise by halftime.

But then Andreas Cornelius and Roberto Inglese restored Parma's two-goal lead before Gianluca Lapadula pulled one back for Lecce.

Elsewhere, Udinese beat eighth-place Sassuolo 1-0, Fiorentina defeated last-place SPAL 3-1 to finish 10th while Bologna drew 1-1 with Torino.