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 Sunday, May 26, 2002 18:04 EST

Empoli, Reggina promoted despite losses


ROME -- Empoli and Reggina won promotion to Italy's Serie A on Sunday, despite both sides losing, after rival Napoli was defeated by struggling Siena.

Empoli, without the services of top striker Massimo Maccarone who is on duty with Italy's Under-21 squad in Switzerland, suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to Ancona while Reggina lost 1-0 to relegation-threatened Ternana.

Reggina make a quick return to Serie A after going down last season while Empoli return to the top flight for the first time since the 1998/9 season.

Napoli's slim hopes of promotion were dashed as Luigi De Canio's men slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Siena.

Reggina and Empoli will join already-promoted Como and Modena in the top flight next season.

Empoli will be the only Tuscan club in Serie A, after their more illustrious neighbors Fiorentina were relegated following a disastrous season both on and off the pitch.

Verona, Lecce, and Venezia were the other teams condemned to second division football next term.

Reggina meanwhile, replace Lecce as the only southern side in the top flight following a see-saw season in which the Calabrian side dropped to as low as seventh.

"We always believed that we had what it takes to reach the top four spots and gain promotion," manager Franco Colomba told RAI television.

"We knew it was going to be tough, but I'm proud of my players and the rest of the club. We deserved it."

At the other end of the table, home wins for Ternana, Messina, Siena, and Cosenza will have helped in the fight to avoid the drop, while Cagliari's dramatic 3-3 draw at Genoa means that neither side are safe.

With the final round of matches approaching, any of those six teams could join Pistoiese, Cittadella and Crotone in the third division next season.

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