Milan send Verona into relegation playoff as Ibra retires; Juve fail to qualify for Europa league

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MILAN (Reuters) – Hellas Verona will face Spezia in a Serie A relegation playoff after losing 3-1 at fourth-placed AC Milan on Sunday as Rafael Leao’s double and an Olivier Giroud penalty secured the points before Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his retirement.

Verona and Spezia, who lost 2-1 at AS Roma, finished the season with 31 points and now face a playoff, which has been introduced this season, to decide who stays up.

“We played a good game but in the end, we could not stop Leao. We must restart and prepare for a fundamental game,” Verona manager Marco Zaffaroni said.

“There will be emotional aspects to take into account but we want to go all the way. Where will the game be played? We still haven’t talked about it. We were only focused on this game. Now, we are ready for all the updates.”

Milan secured qualification for a third straight Champions League campaign but failed to win a trophy after being knocked out in the semi-finals of Europe’s elite competition and Coppa Italia last 16 after losing the Italian Supercup to Inter Milan.

Stefano Pioli fielded the same side that won 1-0 against Juventus on May 28. Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were both unavailable due to injury, with the 41-year-old Swede watching on before announcing his retirement from football.

Giroud put the hosts ahead in first-half stoppage time, after Cyril Ngonge brought down Brahim Diaz, before the visitors equalised in the 72nd through Davide Faraoni.

Leao capped off the season in style after two goals in quick succession starting with a long-range strike in the 85th minute before wrapping up the win two minutes into stoppage time.

Alexis Saelemaekers came close to scoring a fourth for Milan near the end but his shot curled just over the bar.

After the match, as Milan started preparations to celebrate with Ibrahimovic, the Verona players gathered to follow Spezia’s match which had an astonishing 14 minutes of stoppage time.

SSC Napoli’s players celebrate the Scudetto, the trophy of Italian Serie A Championship, during the ceremony after the Italian Serie A soccer match SSC Napoli vs UC Sampdoria in Naples, Italy, 04 June 2023. EPA-EFE/CIRO FUSCO / POOL
Champions Napoli end season with 2-0 win over bottom side Sampdoria

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and Giovanni Simeone secured a 2-0 victory for the Serie A champions at home to already relegated Sampdoria on Sunday in their season finale.

Napoli finished a triumphant campaign with 90 points from 38 games, while Sampdoria ended bottom on 19 points.

The match was the final game for the two coaches, with Luciano Spalletti having announced his intention to take a sabbatical, while Samp manager Dejan Stankovic told DAZN before kick-off he would not lead the team in Serie B next season.

Osimhen, the league’s leading scorer, sealed his remarkable season with 26 Serie A goals by converting a penalty in the 64th minute after being brought down by Nicola Murru, while Simeone fired a scorcher into the net five minutes from time.

Juventus beat Udinese 1-0 thanks to Federico Chiesa’s second-half goal in their last match of the Serie A season on Sunday but failed to secure a Europa League spot for next term.

Juve’s hopes of a place in UEFA’s second-tier competition were dashed as AS Roma won 2-1 versus relegation-battling Spezia and Atalanta beat Monza 5-2 to take the Europa League places.

Roma’s Paulo Dybala netted a penalty in the 89th minute to secure the points for Jose Mourinho’s side who put aside the disappointment of Wednesday’s Europa League final defeat.

Juventus came seventh with 62 points and qualified for the Conference League, while Atalanta (64) and Roma (63) ended the campaign in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Juve dropped to seventh last month after being docked 10 points by an Italian soccer court over their transfer dealings.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side have suffered from injuries throughout the season with Gleison Bremer and Dusan Vlahovic sidelined on Sunday while Angel Di Maria started on the bench.

Allegri described the campaign as a complicated one for Juve, highlighting how they were initially docked 15 points, with that decision suspended following an appeal.

They would have finished third without the subsequent 10-point penalty that took them out of the Champions League spots.

AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is due to leave the club, greets fans after the Italian Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Hellas Verona, in Milan, Italy, 04 June 2023. EPA-EFE/MATTEO BAZZI

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