Bologna have confirmed the appointment of Vincenzo Italiano as the club's new head coach, with the former Fiorentina boss succeeding Thiago Motta.

Italiano has put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the Rossoblu, who will play in the Champions League next season following a fifth-place finish in Serie A.

The 46-year-old departed Fiorentina at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, after guiding La Viola to successive Europa League Conference finals during his three-year spell.

However, the Florence club suffered heartbreak on both occasions; losing to a last-minute winner from West Ham's Jarrod Bowen in 2023, while Ayoub El Kaabi struck in extra-time to clinch a dramatic victory for Olympiacos the following year.

Italiano also led Fiorentina to the 2022-23 Coppa Italia showpiece, where they were beaten by Inter.

A promotion winner with Trapani and Spezia earlier in his managerial career, he takes charge at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara and succeeds Motta, who is expected to replace Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus.

Vincenzo Italiano confirmed he is leaving Europa Conference League runners-up Fiorentina after they ended their Serie A campaign with a 3-2 win at Atalanta on Sunday. 

Italiano took charge of Fiorentina in 2021 and has led them to three successive top-eight finishes in Serie A, also reaching the Europa Conference League final in back-to-back campaigns.

However, they were beaten by a last-gasp Jarrod Bowen goal as West Ham lifted the trophy last year, then lost out to Olympiacos in extra time in the 2023-24 final.

The Viola wrapped up their campaign with an impressive 3-2 win at Atalanta in a rescheduled fixture on Sunday, after which he announced his departure.

"We all took this decision together not many weeks ago," Italiano told reporters after Sunday's game. "You reach a certain point where you have to stop.

"I'm convinced whoever arrives will be able to continue a path that will leave something improved, I hope I have left something to this group, I think they have been three positive years.

"The only regret was not having added the trophy, but as [Atalanta coach Gian Piero] Gasperini told me, these paths are worthwhile and will be remembered."

Reflecting on Fiorentina's latest European near miss, Italiano said he was confident his team would come out on top if the game was replayed.

He also said he regretted being unable to end a traumatic season with silverware, with the club being rocked by the death of general manager Joe Barone in March.

"I would play Olympiacos again tonight, we were all convinced we could beat them. We all believed we could reach the end of the cycle but we didn't succeed," Italiano said.

"The saddest moment was the loss of our director, the worst moment since I was in football. The love we had for him pushed us towards an emotional ending."

Italy defender Giorgio Scalvini was forced off injured as Atalanta failed to secure a third-place finish in Serie A on Sunday, being substituted late on in a 3-2 loss to Fiorentina.

The Europa League winners faced the Europa Conference League runners-up in Bergamo one week after the rest of the league played their final games of 2023-24, with the teams unable to meet before now due to their European commitments. 

A victory would have taken Gian Piero Gasperini's team – who were guaranteed a top-four finish – above Juventus into third, but Andrea Belotti put them behind within six minutes.

Ademola Lookman raced clear to equalise with a dinked finish within six further minutes, but Nicolas Gonzalez's fine volley soon re-established the Viola's lead.

Scalvini drilled in a terrific shot to pull Atalanta level again shortly after the hour mark, but his game would later end in tears as he was helped from the field with an apparent knee issue – a major concern for Italy less than two weeks out from their Euro 2024 opener.

Belotti had put Fiorentina back in the lead following a goalmouth scramble on the stroke of half-time, and Atalanta were unable to force a leveller in the second period as their fine season ended on a flat note.

Data Debrief: Thrilling end to Serie A season

Sunday's game – the final Serie A contest of 2023-24 – saw more first-half goals scored than any other match in the competition this term. Belotti got two of the five, and he now has seven goal involvements (six goals, one assist) in his last six league games against Atalanta.

The result is just a minor inconvenience for La Dea, though. They have finished in Serie A's top four for just the fifth time in their history, previously doing so in 2016-17 (fourth), 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 (all third). 

Vincenzo Italiano says Fiorentina "really believed we could have a different ending", after La Viola suffered Europa Conference League final heartbreak for the second year running.

Italiano's side were beaten by West Ham in last year's showpiece, with Jarrod Bowen snatching a last-gasp winner in Prague.

Fiorentina suffered a similar fate 12 months later, as Ayoub El Kaabi struck four minutes before the end of extra time to give Olympiacos their first title in a major European competition.

La Viola embarked on a club record 13-match unbeaten run to reach their second successive Europa Conference League final.

But Italiano, who will depart the club at the end of the season, admitted it counted for nothing, with his side once again left to wonder what might have been.

"We really believed this time. It hurts," he told Sky Sports Italia. "It's disappointing for the second time.

"It's disappointing because again we had many situations to score goals, but the players did everything they could. It hurts to see my players cry. We really believed this time we could have a different epilogue to this campaign.

"Losing hurts; going all the way for two years running is something good, but naturally you have to lift a trophy, and we didn't manage it.

"The journey feels ruined when you have to watch the others lift the silverware. At this moment, I feel too bitter, disappointed, let down, because I really believed we could have a different ending."

Jose Luis Mendilibar rejoiced "it is an honour to have made the fans happy" after leading Olympiacos to their historic Europa Conference League final triumph over Fiorentina.

Thrylos became the first Greek side to win a major European competition, as Ayoub El Kaabi's extra-time winner snatched a dramatic 1-0 victory at AEK Arena.

It provided a happy ending to an eventful season for Olympiacos, with Mendilibar their third different manager of the campaign having replaced Carlos Carvahal in February.

Following his Europa League success with Sevilla 12 months ago, the Spaniard became the first coach since Rafael Benitez (2003-04 UEFA Cup with Valencia; 2004-05 Champions League with Liverpool) to win major European competitions in consecutive seasons with different clubs.

"I am very happy and satisfied, and it is an honour to have made the fans happy," Mendilibar said. 

"I am very happy that we achieved something that the club had not achieved before. We will celebrate, we will cheer, and then we will get back to work for what comes next."

Olympiacos winger Giorgos Masouras added: "I have no words. It has not yet sunk in. We did it together. I was certain we would win it, and we held on and got it in the end.

"We are now part of Europe's elite and have more responsibilities. We have to maintain this level now."

Ayoub El Kaabi will be the toast of Piraeus after his match-winning heroics secured Olympiakos' first-ever European trophy following their Europa Conference League success on Wednesday.

The Olympiacos striker delivered the fatal blow against Fiorentina, bundling home with four minutes remaining of extra time to snatch a 1-0 victory at the AEK Arena.

El Kaabi is the first player to score 11 goals in a single knockout stage campaign in major European competition since the introduction of group stages.

Radamel Falcao, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema all only ever managed 10 such goals in one campaign of UEFA competitions, and El Kaabi moves next to greatness in another aspect, too.

The Moroccan forward is the first non-European player to score 14 goals in major European competition in a single season, since Lionel Messi in 2011-12 (also 14).

Olympiakos have their star striker to thank after becoming the first-ever Greek side to lift a trophy in major European competition, while Fiorentina will be wounded by another failure in this tournament.

Having lost to West Ham in last season's Conference League final, Fiorentina have now lost five of their last six finals in Europe, their only success coming against Rangers in the 1961 Cup Winners' Cup.

Defeat also ended La Viola's longest unbeaten run in Europe in their history, halting a 13-match undefeated streak in abrupt fashion.

Ayoub El Kaabi was the hero as Olympiacos won their first major European honour in history as they snatched a dramatic 1-0 extra-time victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.

After nothing could separate the sides inside 90 minutes, talisman El Kaabi scored a 116th-minute winner at the AEK Arena as they became the first Greek side to win a major European competition.

Once again, Fiorentina fell at the final hurdle of this competition, with La Viola also losing out to West Ham in the Prague showpiece last season.

However, the success belonged to Olympiacos and head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, who secured continental glory in successive seasons following his Europa League triumph with Sevilla this time last year.

Daniel Podence tested Pietro Terracciano early on before Fiorentina thought they had opened the scoring just nine minutes into the final.

Cristiano Biraghi's cross crept into Konstantinos Tzolakis' bottom-right corner, but Nikola Milenkovic was ruled offside for his position in front of the Olympiacos goalkeeper.

Despite their celebrations being cut short, Fiorentina continued with the greater attacking impetus throughout the first half.

Yet La Viola's dominance paid little dividends as Giacomo Bonaventura – their scorer in last season’s final defeat to West Ham – wasted the best chance, shooting straight at Tzolakis from close range after 21 minutes.

Opportunities remained elusive after the break but Fiorentina again went close in the 69th minute as Dodo found Christian Kouame, whose scuffed effort was pushed away by Tzolakis.

Olympiacos almost struck 11 minutes later when Francisco Ortega's free-kick was met by Iborra, but the 36-year-old's header missed the inside Terracciano's right-hand post as the final headed for extra-time.

Mendilibar had earlier introduced former Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, who almost came back to haunt his old club in the 96th minute, when cutting inside before fizzing a strike that Terracciano tipped away.

A penalty shoot-out appeared likely when Tzolakis denied Jonathan Ikone, until El Kaabi ghosted in to nod home Santiago Hezze's cross with just four minutes remaining and send Olympiacos' fans into ecstasy after a lengthy VAR check for offside in Athens.

Vincenzo Italiano has urged Fiorentina to use their "bitterness" from last year's defeat in the Europa Conference League final against Olympiacos on Wednesday.

Fiorentina lost the 2023 Europa Conference League final in Prague to West Ham 2-1, conceding in the 90th minute to miss out on the chance to lift the trophy.

The Viola have not lost a game in the competition on the way to the final, holding off Club Brugge 4-3 on aggregate to reach the final for the second consecutive year.

Despite suffering disappointment last year, Italiano is hopeful his team can use that as a lesson to lead them to the trophy this time around.

"The only thing that's different is that we've already experienced certain things," Italiano told a press conference before Wednesday's final.

"We have a bit of experience; we carry that with us and tomorrow we have to show it. We can't make any mistakes; we must stay alert and focused.

"Last year we didn't have a good ending. We'll bring that bitterness to make it end differently."

Meanwhile, Olympiacos are aiming to make history by becoming the first Greek side to win a European trophy.

Jose Luis Mendilibar, who won the Europa League with Sevilla last season, took over Olympiacos in February and is leading the team out for the final in their home city of Athens.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Mendilibar said he would not be making any changes, approaching this game as they have the rest.

"We have to stay calm and relaxed and do what got us to the final. To change anything would be a mistake.

"We have to treat this game like any other because that's how we managed to get to the final.

"Along the way, we've crossed the whole of Europe, playing against a lot of opponents.

"At times we were favourites, and then underdogs again. There are so many different moments and I think we could call it a marathon, and now we've reached the end."

Dethroned Italian champions Napoli's hopes of playing European football next season are hanging by a thread after they played out a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina in Serie A on Friday.

Napoli took the lead in the eighth minute through defender Amir Rrahmani, who nodded home a corner by Matteo Politano.

Cristiano Biraghi levelled for Fiorentina in the 40th minute from a free-kick, before M'Bala Nzola put the hosts in front two minutes later when he fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia responded with another stunning free-kick early in the second half to rescue a point for his team.

Eighth-placed Fiorentina, on 54 points and with a game in hand, are five points behind Lazio in seventh.

They can still earn a Europa League spot either by leapfrogging the Rome side or by winning the Europa Conference League final in which they face Greece's Olympiakos on May 29.

Ninth-placed Napoli, on 52 points, still have a slim chance of making the Europa Conference League playoffs.

Data Debrief

Fiorentina left-back Biraghi has now scored six goals from direct free-kicks since the start of 2021-22, which is behind only James Ward-Prowse (seven) - now of West Ham and formerly of Southampton - as the most across Europe's top five leagues in that period.

Kvaratskhelia also levelled via a direct free-kick, making this the first Serie A match in which both teams scored via that route since Fiorentina against Lazio in April 2018 (Jordan Veretout and Luis Alberto in that case).

Napoli's Serie A title defence has long since ended, and they must beat Fiorentina on Friday to have any hope of playing in Europe next season.

Napoli strolled to the Scudetto last year, clinching the title with five games to spare and finishing 16 points ahead of runners-up Lazio.

This time around, it was Inter who wrapped up the league with five games remaining, while Napoli sit ninth in the standings, 41 points adrift of the leaders with a Europa Conference League spot their only hope of playing in Europe.

Napoli are without a win in their last five games, though even if they can get back to winning ways, their European hopes would be out of their own hands due to having played a game more than Fiorentina.

Fiorentina have won three of their last five league matches, and won the previous meeting between the sides 3-1, which could prove vital they end the season level on points and the head-to-head record comes into play.

Vincenzo Italiano's side have already qualified for this season's Europa Conference League final, where they face Greek side Olympiacos in Athens. 

The Viola, unbeaten in Europe this season, are aiming to end the league campaign on a high and take that momentum into the final - they are looking to go one better than last year when they lost to West Ham in the final.

Napoli are likely to be without top scorer Victor Osimhen, who is a serious doubt due to a muscular problem. Fiorentina, meanwhile, welcome back Andre Belotti who missed Monday's win over Monza.

Lucas Beltran was Fiorentina's hero as his late penalty in a 1-1 draw with Club Brugge ensured they progressed to the Europa Conference League final.

Beltran held his nerve from the spot to score an 85th-minute equaliser, earning a draw on the night but a 4-3 aggregate victory.

Fiorentina won the first leg 3-2, but Hans Vanaken's 20th-minute opener levelled the tie, on Wednesday.

Christian Kouame hit the woodwork twice for Fiorentina, but the pressure finally told when Brandon Mechele caught M'Bala Nzola with a high boot.

Beltran made no mistake, with Fiorentina holding firm to seal their place in the final in Athens on May 29.

Fiorentina lost last season's final to West Ham, and the Serie A club will now face either Olympiacos or Aston Villa.

Data Debrief: Back-to-back finals for Viola

Fiorentina have reached a European final for the sixth time in their history, and the second time in a row, though they have only won one of their previous five attempts.

They have only achieved that feat once before, which was back in 1961 and 1962.

Aston Villa were stunned by Olympiacos as they suffered a 4-2 home defeat in the Europa Conference League.

On what the Villa faithful hoped would be a famous night at Villa Park, they instead saw their team dispatched by their Greek opponents in the first leg of their semi-final encounter.

Ayoub El Kaabi scored a hat-trick for the visitors, who were 2-0 up inside 30 minutes on Thursday.

Ollie Watkins and Moussa Diaby struck either side of the interval to restore parity, but El Kaabi sealed his hat-trick from the penalty spot before Santiago Hezze added further gloss with a sensational finish. To add to Villa's misery, Douglas Luiz then missed a penalty late on.

In the other semi-final tie, Fiorentina took a 3-2 aggregate lead against Club Brugge.

M'Bala Nzola was Fiorentina's hero in stoppage time, scoring in the 91st minute to nudge the Serie A team ahead.

Hans Vanaken had scored from a penalty following a VAR check for handball in the 17th minute, cancelling out Riccardo Sottil's early opener, though Fiorentina restored their lead through Andrea Belotti before half-time in a frantic first half.

Thiago equalised for Brugge, but it was ultimately not enough.

Atalanta beat 10-man Fiorentina 4-1 in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Wednesday to send them into the final with a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Ademola Lookman and Mario Pasalic netted in stoppage time to settle a thrilling tie, and Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta, who are also into the Europa League semi-finals, will now face 14-time Coppa Italia winners Juventus on May 15.

Atalanta, who lost the first leg 1-0, were quick to level the tie when midfielder Teun Koopmeiners scored in the eighth minute. However, Fiorentina defender Lucas Martinez Quarta netted with a header following a free kick after the break.

Gianluca Scamacca then levelled the tie again in the 75th minute with a stunning scissor kick, before Lookman made it 3-1 on the night in stoppage time, paving the way for Pasalic to put matters to bed.

Data Debrief

Atalanta are the first team to qualify for the Coppa Italia final after having lost the first leg since 2014-15, when Juve overturned a first-leg defeat... which also came against Fiorentina.

Koopmeiners, meanwhile, is the midfielder who scored the most goals in all competitions this season among those playing in Serie A (14).

Federico Gatti got the only goal as Juventus edged out Fiorentina 1-0 to strengthen their grip on third place in Serie A.

The Turin side ended a run of four league games without a win thanks to Gatti’s 21st-minute strike to close to within six points of second-placed AC Milan.

Napoli scored four goals in the space of 13 second-half minutes as they came from behind to win 4-2 at Monza.

Milan Djuric had put the hosts in front but Victor Osimhen levelled 10 minutes into the second half, with Matteo Politano and Piotr Zielinski making it 3-1 by the 61st minute.

Andrea Colpani got one back for the hosts but Giacomo Raspadori made sure of Napoli’s win.

Nicolas Viola’s 88th minute winner moved Cagliari four points clear of the drop zone as they came from behind to beat Atalanta 2-1, with Tommaso Augello cancelling out Gianluca Scamacca’s opener.

Monaco stretched their unbeaten Ligue 1 run to six games and moved up to third with a 1-0 win over Rennes as both teams had a player sent off.

Maghnes Akliouche got the goal in the 25th minute, teed up by Ismail Jacobs, and Rennes were reduced to 10 early in the second half as Martin Terrier saw red for a poor tackle on Akliouche.

The numbers were levelled up in the 64th minute when Thilo Kehrer was shown a second yellow card.

Rolando Mandragora’s wonder strike gave Fiorentina a slender 1-0 advantage in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Atalanta.

The 26-year-old lashed home a spectacular shot from outside the penalty area in off a post in the first half and that was all the home side had to show for their dominance.

Sixth-placed Atalanta are currently four places and seven points better off than Fiorentina in Serie A, but will be relieved to have left the Stadio Artemio Franchi with just a one-goal deficit.

Fiorentina, who beat Bologna 5-4 on penalties in the quarter-finals, wasted a string of chances either side of half-time.

Nicolas Gonzalez had an early shot blocked and Giacomo Bonaventura fired narrowly wide from outside the penalty area as Fiorentina made the more enterprising start.

Nikola Milenkovic headed wide for La Viola and Lucas Beltran’s effort from a tight angle was held by Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi before Mandragora gave the home side a deserved lead in stunning fashion.

The defensive midfielder unleashed a swerving, dipping shot from 30 yards, which crashed against Carnesecchi’s right-hand post and into the net.

Gonzalez fired wide as Fiorentina looked to double their advantage at the end of the first half in which Atalanta, 3-0 winners at reigning champions Napoli on Saturday, failed to have one effort on target.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, 2-1 winners at AC Milan in the last eight, were much-improved after the break.

Defender Isak Hien’s shot was well saved by Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano and Berat Djimsiti’s effort was blocked.

Fiorentina threatened to double their lead through Gonzalez, who was twice denied by Carnesecchi, and as the game opened up, Atalanta defender Mitchel Bakker fired a low angled shot wide.

Andrea Belotti’s header for Fiorentina was blocked and Luca Ranieri spurned a golden chance when shooting wide from close range following a corner.

Gianluca Scamacca went close to an Atalanta equaliser with 10 minutes left, but the Italy striker’s fierce low shot from the edge of the box was superbly saved by Terracciano.

Atalanta defender Emil Holm saw a late header comfortably saved by Terracciano as the two sides played out a goalless, but entertaining, second period.

The return leg is on April 24 and the winners will play Juventus or Lazio in the final in Rome on May 15.

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