10.05.2015 20:21 h

Napoli tripped up by Parma in European chase

Napoli missed the chance to put Roma and Lazio under pressure in the race for the Champions League following a disappointing 2-2 at rock-bottom and bankrupt Parma in Serie A on Sunday.

Rafael Benitez's side would have only been two points behind second-placed Roma, who fell weakly 2-0 at AC Milan on Saturday night, had they won at already-relegated Parma as expected.

Instead they stay four points behind Rudi Garcia's side and three behind Lazio, who have the chance to overtake Roma with a win against Inter Milan in Rome later on Sunday.

Benitez started with star striker Gonzalo Higuain on the bench in view of their Europe League semi-final second leg with Dnipro in Ukraine, and until the Argentine was brought on in the 57th minute they looked blunt going forward.

Raffaele Palladino's ninth minute strike gave Parma a shock lead after Napoli keeper Mariano Andujar flapped at a corner.

Cristobal Jorquera's first Serie A goal in over three years, a long-range rocket of a shot from a free-kick, restored that lead only five minutes after Manolo Gabbiadini's 28th-minute equaliser.

Dries Mertens levelled the scores for the away side in the 72nd minute with a well-placed low shot, but it wasn't enough for Napoli, who are only five points ahead of Fiorentina in fifth, 3-2 winners of a thrilling Tuscan derby at Empoli thanks to a classy double from Josip Ilicic and a trademark individual goal from Mohamed Salah.

Sampdoria are six points behind Napoli in sixth place after hammering Udinese 4-1 with a brace from Roberto Soriano and two more from Afriyie Acquah and Alfred Duncan.

It was the first win in seven games for Sinisa Mihajlovic's side.

Ilicic gave Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentina's side the lead with a brilliant curling effort in the fourth minute, only for Riccardo Saponara to equalise for Empoli just before the half hour.

The home side came out fighting in the second half but got hit with a sucker punch from Mohamed Salah in the 57th minute, who bamboozled defenders Vincent Laurini and Daniele Rugani with a mazy dribble before calmy shooting low past Luigi Sepe.

Ilicic stretched the Fiorentina lead 10 minutes later with another left-footed curler after ball broke to him on the edge of the box.

Despite a fine goal from Levan Mch'edlidze with 13 minutes left and serious pressure from the home side, Fiorentina went home with three points that maintains their place in the Europa League spots.

Cesena were relegated from the Italian top flight with three games to spare on after throwing away a two-goal half-time lead to lose 3-2 at home to Sassuolo.

Cesena needed to beat Sassuolo and hope Atalanta failed to win at Palermo in order to survive for another week, but goals from Simone Zaza, Saphir Taider and Simone Missirioli cancelled out two fine individual strikes from Gregoire Defrel and Franco Brienza.

Atalanta won a thrilling match in Sicily 3-2 to all but secure Serie A safety despite having to play almost the whole second half with 10 men after goalkeeper Vlada Avramov was sent off for stupidly kicking Franco Vazquez.

Palermo have nothing left to play for and after the match director Dario Baccin admitted that star player Paulo Dybala was set to be sold, with local media reporting that they have come to an agreement with champions Juventus.

"We are in the conclusive phase of the sale. Over the next few days the president will inform you of everything," said Palermo director Dario Baccin.

Luca Toni's 19th league goal of an astonishing season for the veteran Verona striker wasn't enough for his side to win their local derby with Chievo in Sunday's early game, an exciting 2-2 draw.

The 37-year-old is now only one goal behind the league's top scorer Carlos Tevez with three games to go.

Finishing top of charts would be a great way for the World Cup-winner to end his career, even if he is refusing to talk about his future.

"I'm looking to finish top of the scoring charts," Toni said. "I don't know about my future, first I'll try to overtake Tevez, then we'll see."