(Reuters) - Spezia secured a huge win for their Serie A survival hopes by beating relegation rivals Cagliari 2-1 on Saturday, but the visitors were left devastated when a last-minute equaliser was ruled out by VAR.
Vincenzo Italiano’s side were widely tipped to go straight back down to Serie B after being promoted to the Italian top flight for the first time last season.
However, their victory over Cagliari leaves them in 15th place on 29 points with 10 games remaining, seven clear of the Sardinian side in 18th.
Roberto Piccoli guided in a header early in the second half to open the scoring before Giulio Maggiore’s volley bounced off the turf and looped over goalkeeper Alessio Cragno in the 80th minute to double their advantage in unorthodox fashion.
Cagliari responded quickly when Gaston Pereira fired in from close range, and Joao Pedro thought he had snatched a point at the death when he bundled in a finish, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside.
"We had a great game, maybe we should have finished it off earlier and scored a few more goals," Maggiore told Sky Italia.
"It's not nice to suffer at the end of the game like today, but that's symbolic of our season: we have to keep going until the end."
Earlier, bottom side Crotone squandered a golden chance to move closer to safety when they threw away a 2-0 halftime lead to lose 3-2 at home to Bologna.
A Junior Messias free kick and Simy penalty gave the hosts a comfortable lead, but visiting coach Sinisa Mihajlovic's changes at the break paid off as Adama Soumaoro pulled one back before substitutes Jerdy Schouten and Andreas Skov Olsen scored to complete a remarkable turnaround.
"The players did well to recover from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and had another three or four chances to make the result more comfortable. Credit to the guys, but we can’t have these highs and lows, it’s a question of mentality," Mihajlovic told Sky Italia.
Crotone remain 20th with 15 points, eight adrift of the safety zone, while Bologna rose into the top half of the table and sit 10th with 34 points.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)