Serie A's season went out with a bang on Sunday. A total of 41 goals were scored on the final afternoon, more than four per match; so much for the Italian reputation for crabby, defensive caution. The spirit of adventure even affected those games where much was at stake. AC Milan won 2-0 against Fiorentina in Florence, when what they had needed to cling on to third spot, and guaranteed Champions League football next season, was merely not to lose by as a heavy a margin.
Bologna, threatened with relegation, beat Catania 3-1 tomstay in the top-flight. Torino went to Roma and the Stadio Olimpico witnessed five goals. Alas, for Torino, Roma scored three of them and the Turin side, needing to better Bologna's result, are now down in Serie B. Marco Di Vaio scored Bologna's third, but his 24th of the season was not quite enough to make him the league's overall top goalscorer.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic took that award with his 24th and 25th goals in the rollercoaster that was Inter Milan 4, Atalanta 3. Udinese and Cagliari went one goal better, in a 6-2 win for the home side in Udine. As Milan, Fiorentina - who will now go into the final qualifying round for the group stage of the Champions League - Bologna and Torino established their crucial final placings, so at last did Carlo Ancelotti, who will not be coaching Milan next season. Confirmation that he is off to Chelsea arrived yesterday morning, but he declared his eight years working at Milanello were over. Leonardo, the Brazilian former Milan player, will take over as head coach there.
"Today is the end of a wonderful experience," Ancelotti announced. The parting of ways had not been acrimonious, he added. "I have talked to president Silvio Berlusconi and vice-president Adriano Galliani and we reached this point together, harmoniously." Milan, along with second-placed Juventus, finished the campaign 10 points behind the champions, Inter. Uncertainty surrounds the managerial positions at a further two clubs in the final top six. Juventus have a decision to make on whe-ther Ciro Ferarra, the caretaker, stays on, while Luciano Spalletti, said he will meet the Roma club president Rosella Sensi in the next few days about his future.
As for emblematic players, it was farewell to Paolo Maldini, to Pavel Nedved, who played his last game for Juventus in their 2-0 win over his old club Lazio, and Luis Figo, who turned out for the last time for Inter. David Beckham meanwhile left open his chances of returning to Milan some time in 2009-2010 after completing his remaining obligations to LA Galaxy over the next five months by saying: "I hope to return soon."
Kaka, who with Alex Pato scored the last goals of Milan's Ancelotti era, was more enigmatic. Real Madrid are keen to lure him to Spain. He chose simply to bid farewell to his coach: "He gave me the chance to enter the world stage, and taught me a lot," said the Brazilian. "I'm grateful for that." email@example.com