10.05.2014 20:34 h

Football: Badu hits late leveller to dent Verona's Europa hopes

Ghanaian substitute Emmanuel Badu hit an injury-time equaliser for Udinese in a 2-2 draw at Verona on Saturday to potentially scupper the home side's chances of Europa League qualification.

Verona, one of six teams chasing two of Serie A's three places in the competition, had provisionally sneaked into the Europa zone after goals by Luca Toni, from the spot, and Emil Hallfredsson had given them a 2-1 lead by the 54th minute.

Veteran striker Antonio Di Natale reduced arrears for the northeners on 56 minutes amid what was a pulsating and balanced game at the Bentegodi stadium.

But barely five minutes after replacing defensive midfielder Allan in the 87th minute, Badu brought the Andrea Mandolini's men back down to earth by firing a daisycutter past Verona 'keeper Rafael in the first minute of injury time.

Instead of moving up to sixth, Verona remain ninth on 54 points, the same as Milan, who are eighth, and seventh-placed Parma, ahead of their respective matches away to Atalanta and Torino.

Juventus secured their third consecutive scudetto last weekend and are away to Roma, second and 11 points adrift, on Sunday.

A win would see Antonio Conte's visitors amass 99 points and thus beat Inter's Serie A record of 97 for their title-winning 2007 season, with one game in the season remaining.

Roma are assured of the second automatic Champions League qualifying spot while Napoli, away to Sampdoria on Sunday, will play in next season's competition if they successfully negotiate the qualifying stages.

Fiorentina, in fourth, have secured the first Europa League spot but are away to a Livorno side on Sunday fighting for its top-flight survival.

Inter, in fifth, host Lazio in their final home game of the season later Saturday knowing defeat would deal a huge blow to their chances of qualifying for the Europa League.

Inter, Italy's last Champions League winners, in 2010, missed out on Europe altogether this season after a dismal showing in the previous campaign.

This season, the sixth-placed finisher in Serie A will also qualify for the Europa League via the Italian Cup, won by Napoli over Fiorentina last week.