Samp still in the picture for Europe as Quagliarella brace sinks SPAL

A fantastic first-half performance and Fabio Quagliarella in inspired form meant that Sampdoria beat SPAL 2-1 at the Stadio Paolo Mazza this afternoon.

The 36-year-old was simply unplayable for the 69 minutes he was on the pitch, scoring a splendid early opener before doubling the Blucerchiati’s lead shortly afterwards.

The first chance actually went to the home side, as straight from the kick-off SPAL won a free kick and Jasmin Kurtic stroked the ball into the upper side netting.

That relatively close shave aside, it was clear that Samp were on song and they took the lead through the unceasingly extraordinary Quagliarella. The skipper showed strength to hold off his marker in the area and fantastic ability to hit a sideways scissor kick goalwards after just four minutes. Former Doria shotstopper Emiliano Viviano got a hand to it, but the strike was too pure and he couldn’t keep it out.

SPAL were reeling and Marco Giampaolo’s men took full advantage in the 11th minute when Karol Linetty curled a cross into the six-yard box, where Fabio leapt and sent a textbook centre-forward’s header down into the bottom corner: 2-0 up and cruising.

There was a touching moment in the 13th minute, as the whole stadium, players included, paused to honour Davide Astori’s memory, a year after the Fiorentina captain, who wore number 13, tragically passed away.

Back to the game, our No.27 could’ve even scored two more himself before the half-time whistle. He hit the post in the 24th minute when he beat the offside trap and sent a dipping volley past Viviano and back off the upright. Then, ten minutes before half-time, Viviano stood up well against his former team-mate, producing a fine save on Quagliarella’s powerful shot from a tight angle.

The first half was almost all Sampdoria and on the few occasions SPAL threatened at our end, they found Emil Audero solid or squandered their chances.

Sampdoria, and particularly Quagliarella, did not let up at the start of the second half, with the skipper clearly on the hunt for a hat trick. Six minutes after the restart, Fabio did splendidly to cut inside and curl a shot that was destined for the top corner before a scrambling Viviano touched it behind. From the resulting corner taken by an impressive Ronaldo Vieira, he caught it well on the half-volley but just sent it over.

SPAL appeared to have found themselves a lifeline in the contest after an hour’s play when Sergio Floccari directed a powerful header into the back of the net from a free kick. However, amid the celebrations, the referee had a lengthy discussion with VAR and upon review spotted a narrow offside from the SPAL striker, so the goal was disallowed.

The perceived injustice seemed to galvanise the hosts, who began flying into tackles with more intent and upped their game. It produced a flurry of yellow cards for both sides but also forced Doria to sit deep and play more defensively.

Samp dealt with the pressure composedly and even managed to cause problems themselves on the counter. When SPAL’s goal finally came, it was little more than a consolation, although a fine one at that. From a similar position to the first minute, Kurtic this time found the back of the net from a free-kick in the 94th minute.

When the final whistle eventually came in the 98th minute – after Thiago Cionek had been sent off for a challenge from behind on substitute Gregoire Defrel – it was a thoroughly deserved win for an excellent Samp. Cheered on by our ever-loyal support, things are set up nicely for a great end to the season.

SPAL 1-2 Sampdoria (HT: 0-2)

Scorers: Quagliarella 4, 11, Kurtic 90+4

SPAL (4-4-2): Viviano; Cionek, Bonifazi, Felipe (Antenucci, 83), Fares; Valoti (Jankovic, 79), Missiroli, Schiattarella (Murgia, 55), Kurtic; Petagna, Floccari.
Subs not used: Gomis, Fulignati, Polizzi, Regini, Valdifiori, Vicari, Dickmann, F. Costa, Paloschi.
Coach: Semplici.

Sampdoria (4-3-1-2): Audero; Bereszynski, Andersen, Colley, Sala; Praet (Murru, 88), Vieira, Linetty; Saponara (Jankto, 59); Gabbiadini, Quagliarella (Defrel, 69).
Subs not used: Rafael, Belec, Sau, Tavares, Ferrari.
Coach: Giampaolo.

Referee: Pasqua.
Assistants: Santoro, Preti.
Fourth official: Abbattista.
VAR: Manganiello.
VAR assistant: Lo Cicero.

Yellow cards: Fares 71, Vieira 73, Valoti 76, Sala 76, Audero 90+1.
Red card: Cionek 90+6.

Additional time: 2+7 minutes.

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