Former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o rolled back the years as Sampdoria continued their pursuit of Champions League football with a straightforward 2-0 victory over Cagliari.
The Cameroonian forward joined the Serie A side last month from Everton, and scored his first goal for his new club courtesy of a stunning volley after Lorenzo De Silvestri had given them a first-half lead.
Sampdoria will now head into next weekend’s clash against Rudi Garcia’s faltering Roma in fifth place and with renewed hope they could yet secure a spot for next season in Europe’s top tier competition.
Champions League race
What will help Eto’o’s new employers was the result at the Stadio San Paulo, with Napoli and Inter Milan playing out an enthralling 2-2 draw.
Rafael Benitez’s side had been on course for all three points after goals from Marek Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain, but Rodrigo Palacio pulled one back before Mauro Icardi levelled the scores with a penalty after Henrique was shown his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Meanwhile Roma continued their recent slump in form with a goalless draw away at Chievo.
Though the match was a game of few chances, and later described as “negative,” by a concerned Garcia, the contest was overshadowed by a broken leg sustained by Chievo defender Federico Mattiello following a challenge by Roma’s Radja Nainggolan.
Filippo Inzaghi’s AC Milan fell further adrift of a return to the big time after a 2-2 draw against Verona at the San Siro.
Evergreen forward Luca Toni gave the visitors an early lead, before Milan bit back through a Jeremy Menez penalty and Panagiotis Tachtsidis own goal prior to a 95th minute leveller from Nico Lopez.
Best of the rest
Udinese continued their own pursuit of European football with an entertaining 3-2 victory over Torino at the Stadio Friuli.
Fabio Quagliarella gave the away side an early lead after 15th minutes, but the hosts’ rallied through Antonio Di Natale and a Cristian Molinaro own-goal to take the lead going into the second half.
Molla Wague then extended the home side’s advantage, yet the home side were forced to hold on after Marco Benassi’s goal forced a frantic finale.
Crisis club Parma are destined for relegation but earned just an 11th point of the season by holding fellow strugglers Atalanta.
With their future growing increasingly uncertain by the week, the home side had not been in action since Feburary 15 but will take heart at a resilient display that ensured they take home their share of the spoils.
Cesena failed to bolster their own chances of survival after playing out a stalemate against Palermo.
The visitors went into the game expected to sweep them aside, but will rue a series of missed chances that could prove costly come the end of the season in May.
Meanwhile Empoli extended their unbeaten run to a sixth game after a 1-1 draw against Genoa.
M’Baye Niang put the visitors in front early on, but substitute Federico Baba scored an equaliser to rescue a point in front of an electric Carlo Castellani Stadium.