Salernitana moved out of the Serie A relegation zone for the first time this season on Thursday after beating Venezia 2-1 to continue their miracle bid for safety.
Simone Verdi came off the bench to put survival in his team’s hands in the 67th minute, shortly after Thomas Henry had levelled for rock-bottom Venezia who had briefly threatened to strengthen their own attempt to escape the drop.
Davide Nicola’s side, who took the lead in the seventh minute through Federico Bonazzoli’s penalty, sit just outside the bottom three and a point above Cagliari ahead of their home clash with the Sardinians on Sunday.
The win in their game in hand extended Salernitana’s unbeaten run to five, of which four have been victories, and extended the gap between them and Venezia to seven points.
Before lauching their current run Salernitana had been rooted to the bottom of Serie A for almost the entire season, and should they 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.
This time the 49-year-old has an even more outlandish pledge to fulfil, as he says he will walk to Rome to meet the Pope if he manages to kept his team up.