Parma vs. Hellas Verona: Final score 2-0, the Crusaders march on towards Europe

Marco Luzzani

Parma moved closer to Europa League qualification with a 2-0 win at home to Hellas Verona on Sunday.

Parma picked up a crucial three points in their fight for Europa League qualification, as they downed fellow top six hopefuls Hellas Verona at the Ennio Tardini. It was far from one of Roberto Donadoni's side's most spectacular performances, though the Ezequel Schelotto doubled their advantage in the dying seconds after Jonathan Biabiany fortuitously poked them into an early lead.

The game's opening goal came 20 minutes into a first half which wasn't exactly jam-packed with goalscoring chances. Fittingly, therefore, the opener wasn't the result of some brilliant creativity but an opportunistic prod, with Biabiany's close-range poke trickling against the post before bouncing back across the line and into the arms of a rather sheepish looking Rafael.

Prior to the opener Parma had been in the ascendency, with the excellent Marco Marchionni firing wide from the edge of the area before Antonio Cassano squandered a one-on-one, though once ahead the hosts looked quite content to sit deep and soak up pressure. They stood off their Veronese visitors and denied them any space high up the field, with new Italian international Gabriel Paletta characteristically impervious in defence.

Verona looked increasingly dangerous after a slow start to the second half, with Parma beginning to struggle with their ever more regular crosses into the box.  Luca Toni caused problems with his power and height, towering above the Emilians' defensive pairing.

However, Parma managed to withstand everything the mastini threw at them, and doubled their advantage in stoppage time, after Hellas goalkeeper Rafael was caught napping again. He was robbed by Cassano, whose spectacular chip bounced back off the post before being nodded in by substitute Schelotto.

The crociati are now 15 unbeaten in the league and move three points clear of Hellas -- their nearest Europa League challengers -- in the sixth and final qualification spot.

Parma: Mirante; Gobbi (Molinaro 70'), Lucarelli, Paletta, Cassani; Parolo, Marchionni (Acquah 83'), Gargano; Palladino (Schelotto 63'), Cassano, Biabiany.

Goals: Biabiany (20'), Schelotto (90+2')

Hellas Verona: Rafael; Agostini, Maietta, Moras, Cacciatore; Marquinho (Gómez 82'), Cirigliano (Cirigliano 56'), Rômulo; Janković (Sala 64'), Toni, Iturbe.

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