Udinese qualify for Champions, Roma in Europa

ROME, May 22, 2011 (AFP) - Udinese qualified for the Champions League for only the second time in their history after a 0-0 draw at home to AC Milan ensured they took fourth place in Serie A.

AFP - Udinese's forwards Alexis Sanchez (L) and Antonio Di Natale (R) celebrate after the Italian Serie A football match between Udinese and AC Milan

Lazio missed out on Europe's premier club competition on goal difference despite their 4-2 win at Lecce.

And Roma qualified for the Europa League at Juventus's expense with a 3-1 win at home to Sampdoria.

But Udinese matched their achievement from 2005 when they also finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League.

"This is a fantastic moment. I'm very proud to have scored 57 goals in two years," said Udinese captain Antonio Di Natale, who finished Serie A top scorer for the second year in a row.

"Today we showed we deserve once again this prestigious achievement, we drew against a great Milan side and we could even have won, but that's ok.

"The draw tastes like success, like a triumph."

Milan didn't look likely to upset the party as coach Massimiliano Allegri left out a host of first team players such as goalkeeper Christian Abbiati, centre-back Alessandro Nesta and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Udinese started the game brightly without creating too many clear-cut chances before Milan gradually snared control.

Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic had to be alert to dash from his line and deny Clarence Seedorf, set up by Antonio Cassano.

Handanovic then saved well from Pato, again teed up by Cassano, who then also served Kevin-Prince Boateng, only for the Ghana midfielder to shoot high.

Di Natale had a great chance on 64 minutes as he scampered onto a defence-splitting through ball and forced Marco Amelia into a smart save.

Seedorf then brought down Alexis Sanchez in the box only for Amelia to tip Di Natale's penalty onto the post.

Udinese were pushing and Gokhan Inler went as close as is possible to scoring when his long range effort beat Amelia, only to hit the bar, then post and bounce to safety.

But when the final whistle went, the stadium in Udine erupted into scenes of jubilation.

Needing to win, Lazio were made to work and toil by Lecce before fulfilling their part of the bargain.

Twice in the first half they took the lead only to be pegged back but when Lecce goalkeeper Massimiliano Benassi was, harshly, dismissed in giving away a penalty in the second period, the fight went out of the hosts.

Tommaso Rocchi had given Lazio the lead on a breakaway only for Manuel Coppola to equalise with a slightly fortuitous lob.

Mauro Zarate put Lazio almost immediately back in front only for Ignacio Piatti to restored parity a second time.

But when Benassi was shown a straight red card for bringing down Rocchi early in the second half, Lecce's hopes all but died.

Zarate converted the spot-kick and just past the hour mark Giuseppe Vives shanked a corner past his own goalkeeper.

Roma only needed a point to ensure they took sixth place and the last Europa League spot but they made sure with victory.

It was perhaps bitter-sweet as a 2-1 defeat on the same ground to the same opponents last season proved cost Roma the Serie A title.

Daniele Mannini sent panic into the home fans when he gave Samp the lead on 26 minutes, only for a crisp Francesco Totti finish to level matters four minutes later.

Mirko Vucinic turned inside his marker and shot home at the near post after the break and Marco Borriello mopped up the loose ball after Totti's free-kick proved too hot for goalkeeper Junior Costa to handle.

Juventus needed Roma to lose to have any hope of avoiding a second successive seventh-placed finish and third year in six out of Europe.

But they could not even manage to beat Napoli, who held on for a 2-2 draw in Turin.

Christian Maggio and Cristiano Lucarelli twice put the visitors ahead but goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Alessandro Matri earned Juve a point.

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