Jonathan Biabiany and Ezequiel Schelotto gave Parma victory in this head-to-head with Verona for sixth place.
This was a thoroughly unexpected showdown for Europe, as the teams went into this weekend locked together on 40 points in joint sixth place. The Ducali were on a club record 14-round unbeaten run, while Hellas had won three of their last four away games. Luca Toni returned from suspension to bolster the Verona front line. Antonio Cassano started with Raffaele Palladino and Jonathan Biabiany, while at the back Gabriel Paletta was fresh from his Italy debut against Spain this week.
Rafael needed an early fingertip save on Marco Marchionni’s daisy-cutter and Luca Toni’s header was wide. Cassano dribbled through the Verona back line, but by the time he got through the finish was weak and into Rafael’s arms.
Juan Iturbe and Romulo combined, the former placing an angled drive across the face of goal inches past the far post.
Parma took the lead soon after, as a corner came out to Massimo Gobbi and his snapshot took a decisive touch off Biabiany to prod it in off the inside of the far post.
Cassano’s cross-shot lob had to be flapped out from under the bar by Rafael at full stretch, then Toni hit the side-netting from a tight angle.
Vangelis Moras couldn’t get enough of a clean header on to Romulo’s free kick, then Mattia Cassani bravely threw himself in Marquinho’s path to block his attack.
There was also some bad news for Parma, as Gabriel Paletta will be suspended against Milan are picking up a yellow card.
Toni nodded a Romulo cross over the bar and Verona had penalty appeals for Cristian Molinaro’s challenge on Sala, but Parma almost put the result beyond doubt in the final stages when Biabiany just failed to get on the end of an Ezequiel Schelotto assist at the near post.
Parma did double their lead in the final moments of the match. Cassano pounced on a Rafael error and aimed his lob from an improbable angle, hitting the near post, but Schelotto followed up the rebound with a close-range header.