Conor Clancy Date: 20th September 2020 at 2:25pm
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STADIO ENNIO TARDINI (Parma) – Supporters returned to Serie A stands on Sunday afternoon to watch Napoli’s 2-0 defeat of Parma.

The excitement around the Tardini late Sunday morning was palpable, with the beginning of Parma’s 2020/21 campaign marking the dawn of a new era at the club as coach Fabio Liverani took charge for the first time while new president Kyle Krause was watching on.

Warmups were done and the teams came out without quite as much of that dreaded echo that has become so normal in Italy’s football stadiums over the last few months, and the 1,000 or so fans in place generated a constant buzz of noise that occasionally elevated into an attempt at chants to buoy the Crociati up.

But that energy and excitement didn’t transfer onto the pitch and the two sides as the first half was, perhaps understandably given their short pre-season schedules, played out at the pace of a pre-season friendly.

Napoli dominated most of the ball and the hosts stood firm to resist them, while at the other end Parma were limited to an opportunistic Roberto Inglese shot from range that was blocked early and was never likely to trouble David Ospina.

Juraj Kucka did his best to inject some life into proceedings after the break, as is his wont, but his driving run and powerful effort from outside the area was just too high to force Ospina into action.

Fabian Ruiz tried to test Luigi Sepe from range on a couple of occasions but as things opened up it was Dries Mertens who capitalised to break the deadlock just after the hour mark.

A ball into the box from the right was headed by Simone Iacoponi but it fell straight to the Belgian who was kept his cool to slot into the corner.

Only the foot of the post kept it at one. Lorenzo Insigne found space in front of Paarma’s defence and looked to pick out the same corner that Mertens had just found, but his attempt bounced back off the upright with Sepe rooted.

It was two before too much longer had passed. A loose pass across Parma’s backline saw Hirving Lozano pounce and get into the box. His initial shot was stopped by Sepe but Insigne arrived right on time to tap in from close range.

Andreas Corenlius came close to pulling one back but his header was straight at Ospina before Yann Karamoh, Jacopo Dezi and Kucka had chances of their own.