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Samp ahead in race for fourth
Sampdoria maintained their two-point lead in the race for the Champions League qualifying place with a comfortable home win over relegated Livorno.

Antonio Cassano fired Samp into a fifth-minute lead and while they were comfortable throughout the points were not sealed until Reto Ziegler's rocket strike six minutes from the end.

It ensured the the hosts kept their advantage ahead of the chasing pack for fourth-place after nearest rivals Palermo were 2-1 winners at Siena.

With Samp travelling to Sicily next Sunday to take on Palermo, unbeaten at home this season, that match looms as a potentially decisive encounter in the race for fourth spot.

Samp have also not tasted defeat on their home turf in Serie A this season and were on their way to a 12th home win when Cassano fired them ahead early.

Angelo Palombo floated a cross-field pass for Cassano on the right flank and the little striker dribbled his way to the edge of the area before beating Alfonso De Lucia with a drilled shot.

Cassano was causing all sorts of problems for Serie A's bottom club and after 17 minutes he again burst into the area and flicked a cute pass across goal for Giampaolo Pazzini who narrowly failed to get a decisive touch.

Samp kept pushing forward in a first-half they completely dominated and Fernando Tissone's long pass found Palombo who unleashed a powerful drive that just flew past the left-hand post.

Stefano Lucchini then headed over under pressure from Alessandro Bernardini before Cassano saw his snap-shot blocked by Romano Perticone after De Lucia had saved from Tissone.

The home onslaught continued after the break with Tissone and Cassano combining before the latter pulled a pass back from the byline that required Fabio Galante's interception with Semioli and Pazzini lurking.

Livorno almost snatched an undeserved equaliser after 53 minutes when substitute Davide Di Gennaro's shot ballooned kindly for Tomas Danilevicius who somehow managed to head wide.

Samp responded to the warning with Galante smacking a shot from just outside the edge of the area against the crossbar.

The hosts finally got the second goal their play deserved six minutes from the end following a well-worked free-kick routine.

Palombo faked to shoot and left the ball for Ziegler whose left-foot effort from 35 yards arrowed into the top-right corner to leave De Lucia with no chance.

Samp almost scored a third deep into injury time when substitute Marco Padalino crossed for Pazzini who outjumped his markers but could only direct his header over the crossbar.

It did not matter, however, as Samp earned three precious points to ensure they can at least afford to came away with a draw from next week's trip to Palermo as they aim to bring Champions League football to the Luigi Ferraris.
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