Sampdoria are back in Serie A after defeating Varese over two legs in the final of their promotion play-off.
The Marassi outfit had already drawn first blood in the tie, winning 3-2 thanks to Daniele Gastadello’s double and a strike from Nicola Pozzi, cancelling out Emanuel Rivas and Giuseppe De Luca’s respective efforts.
Having done the hard work in Genoa already, Sampdoria only needed to avoid defeat in the return leg to confirm their place in next season’s Serie A championship, but Pozzi’s late goal saw his side go one better and seal a 4-2 aggregate win.
It caps a magnificent turnaround for the club, who despite qualifying for the Champions League play-off round in 2010, saw their fortunes take a dramatic turn for the worst.
The departure of coach Luigi Del Neri and general manager Giuseppe Marotta to Juventus in the same summer was soon followed by a heartbreaking extra-time loss to Werder Bremen in the play-offs.
Two months later in October Antonio Cassano was dropped from the first team after a bitter row with club president Riccardo Garrone for not attending an award ceremony.
Replacement coach Domenico Di Carlo soon followed Cassano out of the door, and Giampaolo Pazzini’s January departure to Inter sealed their fate as Alberto Cavasin could not save the side from dropping into Serie B.
The start of 2011-12 did not promise much either, with the likes of Stefano Lucchini, Jonathan Biabiany and Andrea Poli all departing in the close season, forcing through a considerable recruitment drive.
New boss Gianluca Atzori failed to get his new team to gel, but ex-Brescia trainer Giuseppe Iachini took the reins and eventually got his troops going, leading them oo a run of 10 wins in their 15 matches.
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