Viareggio Cup

By Dan King in Forte dei Marmi, Italy

Qualification matters in the first section of the Torneo di Viareggio group stages were settled on Friday afternoon, with Newcastle's fate in the competition to be decided tomorrow.

The tournament is split into two sections, Gruppo A and Gruppo B, and the Gruppo A side, comprising of Group One to Group Six, has now been wrapped up.

It was an all-Italian set of qualifiers, as Varese, Atalanta, Lazio, Inter Milan, Reggina and Sampdoria all topped their tables, while the Representitives of Serie D were clearly the best runners-up with six points from their two games. A whole host of sides finished second in their group with four points, but it was Juventus, holders for the last two years, who edged the final place in the last 16 on the basis of having better 'goals for' and goal difference columns than any of their rivals.

Juve had looked down and out after losing 4-2 to Varese on Wednesday on the back of a draw in their opening game, but Newcastle can take hope from the way they have emerged from a seemingly impossible position.

A 5-1 win over LIAC New York proved decisive for them, together with a 5-0 defeat for Club Brugge against Varese; a goals for column of plus nine and a goal difference of plus two was enough.

Atalanta secured three wins out of three with a 4-1 win over Sambenedettese while Red Star Belgrade beat Cesena 3-2 to finish second.

Lazio also came through with maximum points courtesy of a 2-1 win over Torino while Anderlecht - who would have progressed with a win - could only draw 2-2 with Grasshoppers.

Inter Milan and Representatives of Serie D both went into their game with 100 per cent records, but it was Inter's who remained intact as they emerged 2-1 victors, although both sides qualified anyway. Aussies Apia Leichhardt earned a 1-0 win over Esperia Viareggio to avoid bottom spot.

Group Five was won by Reggina, who beat Spartak Moscow 3-2. Poggibonsi and Empoli drew 1-1.

And in Group Six, Sampdoria failed to live up to their own high standards - they had won 5-0 in their two previous games - but still won the group with a 1-1 draw against Virtus Entella. Dukla Prague beat Vicenza 2-1.