Salernitana maintained their bold bid for Serie A survival on Monday with a 1-1 draw at Atalanta which pulled them closer to safety.
Mario Pasalic’s 88th-minute leveller denied Salernitana a fourth straight win after Ederson had poked them ahead just before the half hour but the draw moved them to within two points of Cagliari, who sit just outside the relegation zone.
Davide Nicola’s team host Cagliari this coming Sunday after playing their game in hand with Venezia on Thursday.
Fans packed into the away end applauded their team off the pitch after their long trip to the far north of Italy was rewarded with a spirited performance.
Atalanta keeper Juna Musso did well to keep out efforts from Emil Bohinen and Lassana Coulibaly early in the second half but the away side tired and had to hang in the face of persistent Atalanta attacks.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side showed why they have only won four times at home all season and were saved from an embarrassing defeat by Croat Pasalic’s low drive.
They sit eighth and are struggling for a place in Europe next season after looking like title challengers before the turn of the year.
Before their recent unbeaten run Salernitana had been rooted to the bottom of Serie A for almost the entire season, and should Salernitana stay up it would be the second miracle escape act of coach Nicola’s career after he saved Crotone five years ago.
Under his charge Crotone won six of their last nine matches of the 2016/17 season, losing just one, and climbed out of the drop zone on the final day of the campaign.
Nicola had promised he would cycle the length of Italy to his hometown of Turin should his team stay up and he was as good as his word, making the 1 300 kilometre (808 mile) trip from the deep southern region of Calabria to Piedmont in the far north-west.
Now the 49-year-old has a real chance of saving a team which in December looked like it might be kicked out of the league as the club struggled to find a new owner.
In June Salernitana were placed in trust as Lazio president Claudio Lotito owned the club and Italian FA rules banned ownership of two teams in the same division.
Given a New Year’s Eve deadline to find a new owner or be booted out, Salernitana were saved at the last minute when Danilo Iervolino’s bid to buy the club was accepted.