STADIO ENNIO TARDINI (Parma) – Parma didn’t need to be at their best to continue their impressive season with a 2-0 win over a wasteful Udinese on Sunday afternoon.
The win is the Gialloblu’s third on the bounce against the Friuli side, something they hadn’t managed since 2011.
Udinese had more than enough chances to leave with all three points themselves though but were careless in front of goal – Stefano Okaka and Rolando Mandragora being largely responsible for their 14th goalless game on the road from their last 30.
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Parma were fortunate not to find themselves behind early on. Okaka managed to free himself of Simone Iacoponi six yards from goal and was found by Ken Sema, but he backheeled straight at Luigi Sepe.
Okaka had another chance soon after, heading over with a chance that he’d have backed himself to do better with.
Having ridden their luck, the Crociati went ahead through an unlikely source in Riccardo Gagliolo.
A shot from the edge of the area deflected straight up into the air and dropped left of the goal. As it fell, the full-back displayed fine technical ability to meet it with his left foot and pick out the far top corner of Juan Musso’s goal.
The Zebrette continued to look to Okaka as their outlet, but the Italy international wasn’t able to do much with the balls pumped into him.
Dejan Kulusevski then doubled Parma’s lead with his first goal since clinching his move to Juventus. Drifting around in his natural habitat to the right of the box, he bought a yard of space and hit a low shot that squirmed under Musso, though the Argentinian will feel he should have done more to stop it.
Sepe was forced into action to deny Kevin Lasagna. The forward’s shot from range was parried back to Okaka, who then slipped Lasagna in one-on-one and his second strike bounced off the crossbar and over.
Kulusevski and Juraj Kucka combined nicely to move Parma forward down the right before the teenager took control himself. Moving infield, he exchanged passes with Andreas Cornelius before scuffing his effort wide.
Mandragora forced a good save out of Sepe moments later, though the midfielder’s effort was perhaps a little too central.
Sepe was at his agile best again to keep the visitors out when Rodrigo De Paul’s freekick deflected off Kulusevski. Wrong-footed and moving right, Sepe managed to reverse his movements and spring back to his left to palm to safety.
Mandragora passed up two golden opportunity to reduce the deficit. First sending wide from about eight yards before catching Iacoponi in possession, running through on goal and again shooting wide.
Cornelius could have made it three but headed into the side netting in the dying minutes.