Conor Clancy Date: 13th January 2020 at 10:37pm
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STADIO ENNIO TARDINI (Parma) – Lecce’s struggles to fight against relegation continued on Monday evening as they left Parma empty-handed after falling to a 2-0 defeat.

Having fallen to Brescia, Bologna and Udinese over the Christmas period, Puglia’s Serie A representatives are sliding ever closer to the drop zone and sit just one point above Genoa.

Meanwhile the Crociati jumped back up to seventh with the win and restored their three point cushion over AC Milan and go four clear of Napoli.

Parma had the much the better of the early exchanges and had their visitors camping out in front of the Curva Nord and beneath the rising red moon on a clear and freezing night in Emilia-Romagna.

But for all of the ball they lacked a cutting edge to carve out any real chances. Dejan Kulusevski was off his best despite one fiercely whipped cross that put Gabriel into a spot of bother.

Gabriel rushed out of his area to meet a long ball but a fluffed clearance fell to the 19-year-old who, for what seemed like the first time all season, was off in his execution and mishit his attempted volley straight across the pitch.

The biggest chance fell Juraj Kucka’s way but, diving in to meet a cross, he headed wide with an effort he’ll feel he should have turned goalward.

Lecce had a flurry after half an hour but could breach Bruno Alves’ defensive line and were largely limited to shots from range.

Gabriel did well to deny Kucka early in the second half. Kulusevski, who had warmed up by this point, was put through and beat the goalkeeper to the ball, setting up his teammate, the Slovak looked to pick out the top corner but Gabriel stretched to turn the ball behind.

The hosts grabbed a deserved lead before an hour was up. Kulusevski showed great strength to shove Cristian Dell’Orco off the ball and win a corner.

Hernani delivered a pinpoint cross onto Simone Iacoponi’s head and the defender dispatched a powerful header back to Gabriel’s left, leaving the ‘keeper rooted to the spot.

That lead became two thanks to the recently arrived Andrea Cornelius. A deep cross from the left found a leaping Kucka whose header crashed back off the crossbar but the Dane was on hand to fire in the rebound with what might well have been his very first touch.

Gervinho came on late and his fresh legs almost delivered a stunning third but after a run through the entire Lecce side he poked his effort straight at Gabriel.