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Sampdoria draw 1-1 with Palermo
Sampdoria moved to within touching distance of a place in the Champions League next season by drawing 1-1 with their only rivals for fourth spot, Palermo, today.

The Blucerchiati went ahead thanks to a penalty from Giampaolo Pazzini in the 54th minute, but another penalty from Fabrizio Miccoli in the 68th minute levelled the score and meant the decision over who will be joining Inter Milan, Roma and AC Milan in the Champions League next season was postponed until next week.

But Samp hold the advantage as they can seal their place in the top four with a win over Napoli in seven days' time.

With both teams searching for a place in the Champions League next season, the stakes were very high at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.

The home side needed a win to move back above Sampdoria into fourth place while a win for the Blucerchiati would have secured them a return to Europe's top club competition with a week of the season to spare.

Even a draw would have left Samp in pole position for a place in the Champions League, but their coach Luigi Del Neri did not even consider playing for a draw as he fielded his strongest, attacking side.

Palermo showed a bit of nerves early on and were unable to get their usual flowing game together.

They too played with a very attack-minded team with Fabrizio Miccoli, Edison Cavani and Javier Pastore leading their assault.

And Cavani had the best chances of a tense first half, heading wide of the post on two occasions.

Antonio Cassano tried to create something for the visitors on the half-hour mark, but his cross failed to find Daniele Mannini in the centre.

Samp were given the chance to go ahead early in the second half when Palermo goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu fouled Mannini inside the penalty area.

Pazzini stepped up to beat Sirigu from the spot and put the Ligurians in front.

The goal gave Samp confidence and a counter-attack almost culminated in a second goal on the hour mark, but Pazzini's final ball to Cassano was cut out by Sirigu.

Samp were getting closer as the Rosaneri suffered, but they were gifted a way back into the game in the 68th minute when Luciano Zauri fouled Miccoli inside the penalty area and referee Roberto Rosetti pointed to the spot for a second time.

Miccoli stepped up to beat Marco Storari and bring the home side level.

The goal gave the home side belief and they had the chance to win the game in the 83rd minute when Igor Budan had almost an open goal to aim at as Storari parried Pastore's shot to him, but he headed wide.

Samp camped in their own half to preserve the point under a growing assault from the home side.

However, they never really ran any further risks as they held on to remain in control of their own destiny.

A win over Napoli at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris next weekend would secure them their place in the Champions League while Palermo now need to beat Atalanta and hope Samp slip up.
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