MAPEI STADIUM (Reggio Emilia) – Parma can continue to dream of European qualification as a solitary Gervinho strike was enough for them to see off Sassuolo in Sunday’s Emilia-Romagna derby.
The Ivorian has had an eventful February so far and having refused to attend training at Collecchio he appeared to be on his way out of the club, though a subsequent apology and injuries to Juraj Kucka and Dejan Kulusevski saw his name back on the team sheet in Reggio Emilia.
Hellas Verona’s draw at Udinese in the early game opened the door for the Crociati to go level on points with the Mastini, and it was an invitation they weren’t going to pass up.
Things started slowly at the Mapei and although Parma had the better of the possession early on, they never looked like troubling Andrea Consigli’s goal and were missing a spark and some energy without Kulusevski and Kucka.
Jeremie Boga was unsurprisingly at the centre of the first real chance. The No.7 drifted to the byline and cutback for Pedro Obiang, whose effort was saved well by Simone Colombi.
Parma then hit the Neroverdi with a swift counterattack. Jasmin Kurtic won the ball back in his own half and broke, freeing Andreas Cornelius on the left.
The Dane delivered a perfect and teasing cross towards the back post, where Gervinho arrived to tap in and start to make up for his recent indiscretions.
Francesco Caputo could have levelled immediately, but after finding space in the area he dragged a shot wide of the bottom corner.
Domenico Berardi’s involvements were few and far between, but flashy when they arrived.
He played a pass through Gervinho’s legs from five yards in the first half, and in the second he attempted an overhead kick from the edge of the area after he miscontrolled a pass from Boga.
Sassuolo needed something and started to turn the screw a bit after Gregoire Defrel’s introduction.
Caputo had another chance to level but Colombi stayed big and parried the No.9’s strike away.
Manuel Locatelli and Caputo exchanged a one-two to make their way into the Parma box, but Alberto Grassi executed a perfectly timed tackled to cut out the danger.
Locatelli came within inches of a stunning leveller as he thumped a strike off the underside of the crossbar which then bounced away from goal before Colombi was called into action again to deny Caputo.
Andrea Consigli hadn’t had much to do since Gervinho’s goal but he stayed alert and was forced into a good save to turn a Giuseppe Pezzella volley over late on.
The win takes Parma back above Bologna and into seventh as Emilia-Romagna’s top side this season, level on points with Verona and just four behind Roma in fifth.