Crisis-hit Parma stuns Serie A leader Juventus 1-0
MILAN (AP) — Parma pulled off the biggest surprise of the season Saturday as the crisis-hit club beat runaway leader Juventus 1-0 in Serie A, inflicting what was only the second defeat of the campaign for Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
Jose Mauri scored the only goal of the game on the hour mark, while a string of fine saves from Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante also helped Roberto Donadoni’s side to a memorable win.
Parma was declared bankrupt last month and its players have not been paid all season, but it has now strung a series of positive results together, with a 1-0 victory over Udinese midweek and last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Inter Milan.
It is still in last place, 10 points from safety, with nine matches remaining.
“We are still bottom of the table even if winning against Juventus is a reason to celebrate,” Donadoni said. “We are happy for our fans and glad that we managed to give ourselves something good in this awful year.
“We are far from safety but I think it’s right to give credit to the lads who have done something extraordinary. We want to finish this season with our heads held high.”
Juventus, which hosts Monaco in the Champions League on Tuesday, has a 14-point lead over Roma, which visits Torino on Sunday.
“It was an important match which would have allowed us to almost seal the title and to remain with the same advantage over Roma and Lazio with eight matches remaining,” Allegri said. “We didn’t get that. We needed to be more mature, so that if we couldn’t win at least we wouldn’t have lost.
“The fact is that when you don’t play well you don’t win. We weren’t in the match. We played OK in the first half and didn’t do anything in the second, deserving to lose. It will be a different game against Monaco, but today the match against Parma was the most important.”
Inter Milan won 3-0 at Hellas Verona to move provisionally level with city rival AC Milan, which hosts high-flying Sampdoria on Sunday, and increase anticipation ahead of next weekend’s Milan derby.
Elsewhere, Genoa beat relegation-threatened Cagliari 2-0.
It was top against bottom at the Stadio Ennio Tardini, with 57 points separating the two teams.
Juventus rested several players such as the league’s leading scorer Carlos Tevez and Andrea Barzagli ahead of the Champions League quarterfinal. Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo were still sidelined with long-term injuries along with Romulo and Kwadwo Asamoah.
Juventus laid siege to Parma’s goal in the first half with Mirante pulling off several good stops to deny Roberto Pereyra, Arturo Vidal and Kingsley Coman.
Parma did not have a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes and its best chance was Ishak Belfodil’s effort on the counter which flew inches past the far top corner.
However, it took a surprise lead when Belfodil raced down the right and crossed for the 18-year-old Mauri to sidefoot it into the roof of the net from just inside the area.
Juventus failed to create a decent scoring opportunity after going behind.
In the evening match, Inter took the lead in the 11th minute when Mauro Icardi easily tapped in Rodrigo Palacio’s cross. Verona players protested as they had expected play to be stopped for an injury to Panagiotis Tachtsidis.
Icardi returned the favor three minutes into the second half when he rolled the ball across for Palacio to slot home from close range.
Verona had a chance to get back into the match in the 77th after Leandro Greco was tripped by Nemanja Vidic in the area but Luca Toni had his penalty saved by Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, who had also denied Toni from the spot earlier this season.
The Slovenia international is a specialist at saving penalties, having kept out six of the past seven spot kicks he has faced in Serie A.
Vangelis Moras scored an own goal in injury time.
In Genoa, Cagliari hit the woodwork three times through Luca Rossettini, Luca Ceppitelli and Paul-Jose M’Poku and was made to pay seven minutes after the break when M’Baye Niang turned in Facundo Roncaglia’s low cross from close range.
Iago Falque doubled Genoa’s advantage minutes later after good work from Diego Perotti.