Lecce’s hopes of staying in Serie A took a massive blow with their second consecutive home defeat, as Parma pounced on errors.
The Salentini were increasingly desperate to escape the drop zone and were beaten by Napoli midweek, but welcomed a Parma side that was practically safe already after four wins from the last five. Juan Cuadrado sat out a ban along with the injured Julio Sergio. The visitors missed MacDonald Mariga and Cristian Zaccardo. Daniele Corvia was named in the starting XI, but pulled out during the warm-up to make way for Luis Muriel.
Lecce’s record in this fixture was not good thanks to just one win, five draws and four Parma victories in Serie A.
Lecce went extremely close after nine minutes when a splendid David Di Michele free kick curled over the wall and smacked against the upright.
Parma were putting 10 men behind the ball and making it very difficult for Lecce to break through. In fact, Parma had a great chance of taking the lead when Francesco Valiani gathered from Jonathan only for his angled drive to skim the woodwork.
Jonathan went for goal himself on the counter and the angled drive whistled inches past the base of the far post as the Stadio Via del Mare crowd held their breath.
Lecce seemed to be struggling under the pressure of the occasion and Coach Serse Cosmi screamed blue murder from the touchline in a bid to wake his men up, but Parma were able to play without being pressed.
Sebastian Giovinco unleashed a sudden blockbuster that smacked against the crossbar on 56 minutes. The Ducali lost their goalkeeper Antonio Mirante to a muscular injury.
Parma took a deserved lead on 67 minutes with a moment of magic from Giovinco, who curled a trademark free kick over the wall and into the near top corner.
Lecce went close to an equaliser on 75 minutes when a free kick found Leonardo Miglionico’s header and Jonathan Biabiany performed an acrobatic clearance in front of the line, then there were appeals for a handling offence as the ball ricocheted around the box.
It was a costly incident, as soon after Parma doubled their lead. Gabriel Paletta came from behind to spring the offside trap on an inspired Jaime Valdes cross-field pass and kept his cool to delicately chip the on-rushing Massimiliano Benassi.
Lecce did manage to pull one back in the final minutes when a set play found the Nenad Tomovic glancing header at the base of the near post.
It was now a siege on the Parma goal and Di Michele’s header into the ground was plucked out of the air. However, as a series of shots were charged down or whistled wide, Esposito was sent off for a second bookable offence.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk
Sent off: Esposito 91 (L)