It was a spectacular relegation dogfight as desperate Cesena and worried Parma played out an end-to-end 2-2 draw.
The tension was sky high at Cesena, who were propping up the table and seemed doomed after failing to win in 11 games. “I see an empty team that has no soul,” complained President Igor Campedelli, while fans invaded the training ground with smokebombs to hurl insults at the squad on Saturday. As promised, the ultras turned their backs to the pitch in protest during this match, represented by a banner that read: ‘You don’t deserve to wear the Cesena shirt.’
Marco Rossi and Giuseppe Colucci sat out bans, joining the injured Marco Parolo, Roberto Guana, Jorge Martinez and Vincenzo Iaquinta. Parma were fourth from bottom and looking for a boost to break away from the relegation zone. Cristian Zaccardo was suspended with MacDonald Mariga and Raffaele Palladino sidelined.
A spectacular Sergio Floccari volley from the Jaime Valdes chipped free kick left Francesco Antonioli rooted to the spot, but thumped the top of the crossbar on seven minutes.
Moments later, another great chance for Parma that Massimo Gobbi blasted wide from a Daniele Galloppa cross-shot. Dominique Malonga should’ve put Cesena ahead, but turned a totally free header well wide under no pressure from Simone Del Nero’s cross.
Adrian Mutu did considerably better with his header from a corner, which Antonio Mirante palmed on to the underside of the crossbar from seven yards.
Tommaso Arrigoni’s angled drive was well beaten away, then Alessandro Lucarelli’s free header was over the bar from a corner.
Del Nero really should’ve scored from a Martinho ball rolled across to the edge of the six-yard box, but he somehow misjudged his timing for a fresh-air shot!
Cesena were made to pay for that horrible error, as Parma took the lead moments later. Giovinco got to the by-line down the right and pulled back for Floccari’s low drive at the near post.
The home side equalised straight after the restart with Mario Alberto Santana’s first goal for the club. Raphael Martinho unleashed a screamer from distance that Mirante only beat away into the path of Santana.
It looked like a totally different team after half-time, as Cesena turned the game around completely. Del Nero unleashed a long-range angled drive that flashed past Mirante into the far corner. It was his first Serie A goal since 2005.
Malonga could’ve opened up a two-goal cushion when he sprung the offside trap on a Mutu through ball and waltzed round the goalkeeper, but the finish was over the empty net.
Parma took advantage and clawed back the draw when Jonathan Biabiany pulled back from the by-line for Gabriel Paletta’s precise finish from nine yards, his angled drive back across the face of goal to the back post.
Parma threatened to take back the lead in a thrilling encounter, as Fabiano Santacroce’s right-foot shot ricocheted off the upright from a corner, then moments later substitute Stefano Okaka flashed his finish across an open goal thanks to a Rodriguez deflection.
Both Biabiany and Gianluca Comotto limped off with injuries, while Antonioli kept Okaka’s right-foot strike out.
Francesco Valiani threatened for Parma in the final 10 minutes, his daisy-cutter cracking the outside of the near post. Floccari controlled with his left foot and shot with his right to force an Antonioli save.
Cesena Coach Mario Beretta was sent off for dissent in stoppages.