Belgian Cyril Ngonge scored twice and Davide Faraoni was sent off as Verona beat Spezia 3-1 in the Serie A relegation play-off on Sunday.
Attacker Ngonge’s double came in a 12-minute spell during the first half before Faraoni, who had opened the scoring, was sent off with more than 20 minutes to play as the 1985 champions stayed in the top-flight.
Wales midfielder Ethan Ampadu, on loan from Chelsea, had equalised for Spezia but it failed to stop his outfit from returning to Serie B after two seasons in the first division.
Spezia, who finished the season in 17th, and Verona, a spot lower, were only separated by goal difference at the end of the season, meaning a play-off was needed to decide who would be sent down to the second tier.
Midfielder Faraoni gave Verona the best start possible, opening the scoring on five minutes before Ampadu’s response on the quarter of an hour mark.
Ngonge’s first goal came after 26 minutes and his second after 38 minutes, giving his side a cushion going into the break.
After the interval, Faraoni almost became the villain for his side with 22 minutes remaining after handling the ball in his box.
He was sent for an early shower but thankfully for the 31-year-old and Verona, M’Bala Nzola had his penalty saved.
The spot kick miss failed to dampen Spezia’s dim hopes but Ampadu’s injury-time effort, which skimmed the post, was as close as they got to maintaining their spot in the Serie A.
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