The hosts lined up in a 4-3-1-2, with Alessandro Diamanti charged with chief creative duties as trequartista. For Parma, ex-Bologna centre-back Cristian Zaccardo was left out through injury late on, meaning ex-Napoli defender Fabiano Santacroce filled the void. Ishak Belfodil kept his position as the preferred central striker.
Bologna were the marginally better side in the opening exchanges, with Alessandro Diamanti going close with a long-range free-kick. They had an even better chance a quarter of an hour in, as a corner was knocked down to a free Manolo Gabbiadini, though the Italian international somehow managed to miscue his shot.
As the half wore on, Parma began to assert themselves on the game, with young winger Nicola Sansone stinging the palms of Federico Agliardi from a long-range effort. But, for much of the half it was a typical derby fixture -- which is to say it was an boring midfield scrap.
Winger Jonathan Biabiany had the visitors’ best chance of the opening 45, though his effort from a tight angle was comfortably parried away by Agliardi before Bologna’s Diego Pérez blazed over the bar and the half time whistle blew.
Biabiany got the second half going in a more exciting fashion, accelerating clear down the right before dragging the ball right across the Bologna goal. He would be made to rue his mistake, as the home fans praying for a Christmas miracle saw someone actually score ten minutes after the restart.
The goal -- in-keeping with how the game had played out -- wasn’t pretty, with Danish defender Frederik Sørensen scrambling home a shot from close range after Napoli fans’ favourite Panagiotis Kone’s header caused havoc in Pavarini’s box.
However, Parma reacted almost instantly, as midfielder Jaime Valdés fired a rocket straight into the top corner and the game saw more excitement packed into two minutes as there had been in the preceding 54.
Ten minutes later the game had turned on its head, as Nicola Sansone struck to put the visitors ahead. It was a goal out of nothing, with full-back Massimo Gobbi pulling the ball back from the left, only for it to be met first time in the box by the Italian U-21, who reaffirmed his quality before revealing his impetuousness. Seemingly enjoying his goal in front of Diamanti a little too much, he was promptly booked before being substituted by Donadoni.
Parma continued to create chances, with Marco Marchionni firing wide from outside of the area before Parolo forced Agliardi into a good save from inside it. The game was far from over, with Diamanti serving to wake Parma up with less than 15 minutes remaining. The playmaker’s effort from close range was well saved at the near post by Pavarini.
All of a sudden it was chances galore, with Amauri -- quelle surprise -- squandering a great opportunity minutes before Alberto Gilardino -- who scored for Parma the last time they won at the Renato Dall’Ara -- had a gilt-edged opportunity to make himself an instant hero on the other side of the Emilian divide. Amazingly he flicked the ball straight into the arms of the crociati keeper Pavarini, endearing himself more to his old supporters than his new ones.
As the clock ticked on Bologna looked more and more likely to score, with Diamanti’s free-kick flashing wide of the Parma goal. But, the visitors withstood the barrage, sealing their second consecutive victory and only their second win on the road this season.
Bologna (4-3-1-2): Agliardi; Cherubin (Pasquato 78), Portanova, Sørensen, Motta; Taider, Krhin, Pérez (Morleo 50); Diamanti; Gabbiadini (Kone 51), Gilardino
Parma (4-3-3): Pavarini; Gobbi, Lucarelli, Santacroce, Benalouane; Parolo, Valdés, Marchionni; Sansone (Acquah 70), Belfodil, Biabiany (Amauri 80)
Goals: Sørensen 54 (B) Valdés 56 (P) Sansone 66 (P)