Palermo continue to thrive among Italy's big guns as they moved back to fourth in Serie A after a 1-0 win over Livorno. Fabrizio Miccoli, the former Juventus and Benfica striker, scored the only goal of the game nine minutes from time to bring the Renzo Barbera stadium to life and hand his side their third straight triumph.
The result sees the Sicilian giants leapfrog Juventus and move into the Champions League qualifying spot, two points clear of the Turin giants. Serse Cosmi, the Livorno coach, will be disappointed with the result as his team looked to be holding on for a point before Miccoli struck the winner. Palermo had struggled to find a breakthrough and Livorno goalkeeper Rubinho made a number of saves to thwart the team he left in the January transfer window.
But, on 81 minutes, Nicolas Bertolo, on as a substitute, found Miccoli inside the area and the diminutive forward struck towards the bottom right corner beyond Rubinho. The result leaves the Livorno in 18th place in the relegation zone, three points from Lazio, who hold the last position of safety. The victory for Delio Rossi's Palermo side, meanwhile, maintained their unbeaten run at La Favorita this season.
Unai Emery, the Valencia coach, has pointed to Racing Santander's record against his side as the reason that Los Che should be wary as they look to strengthen their hold on third spot in Spain's Primera Liga. With fourth-placed Sevilla losing at Real Madrid on Saturday night, Valencia could open up a six-point lead over the Andalusian side and take another step towards returning to the Champions League next season, if they beat Santander at the Mestalla tonight.
However, Valencia must overcome a Racing side who may be struggling in the bottom five, but have proven tough nuts to crack over the last few years. Emery said: "It's a very difficult game. In the past four seasons, they have picked up three wins and draw at the Mestalla, not including the Copa del Rey game where it finished 1-1 after 90 minutes and we beat them in extra-time. "This is the main reason why we have to give them a lot of respect. As well as that, Racing have achieved some great results away from home this season, at grounds such as Sevilla."
The match is the first of three big games in a week for Valencia, whose last outing saw them mauled 4-1 by Atletico Madrid. On Thursday, they play host to Werder Bremen in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie before travelling to reigning champions Barcelona on Sunday. * With agencies Valencia v Santander, midnight, Aljazeera Sport + 2