Jose Mauri struck on the hour mark as crisis-hit Parma stunned Juventus 1-0 to hand the champions only their second defeat of the Serie A season, while Cagliari’s relegation woes deepened with a 2-0 defeat at Genoa.
Days before hosting Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri rested a number of regulars for the trip to a packed out Enrico Tardini stadium.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, striker Carlos Tevez and defender Andrea Barzagli were all left on the bench ahead of Tuesday’s last eight clash in Turin, although it was a decision Allegri could go on to regret.
As well as not being paid all season and entering administration last month after being declared bankrupt, Parma had also only taken two points from their last seven league outings against the Turin giants.
But Roberto Donadoni’s men were impervious to their recent setbacks, and historical statistics, as they set about defying the defending champions in a bid to show their relegation fight is far from over.
Juventus spurned several half chances in a balanced opening half and had little response in the second after Ishak Belfodil cut back from the byeline for Mauri to fire past a flailing Marco Storari and into the top of the net.
Juve’s only other defeat was away to Genoa at the start of the season. Although their second reverse is unlikely to stop their charge towards a fourth consecutive scudetto, it could give faint hope to Roma, who sit second at 14 points before their trip to Torino on Sunday.
Former AC Milan midfielder Donadoni has endured an emotional rollercoaster as coach of stricken Parma this season.
And although the ‘Duchy Men’ face a huge battle to beat the drop – Parma are 10 points from safety at the bottom of the table – no one could deny the 51-year-old coach a deserved victory punch at fulltime.
“The lads showed great pride tonight,” Donadoni told Mediaset. “We might be last in the table but after everything that’s happened the squad has shown that they can rise above it.”
Allegri admitted to Jtv that Juve had “made too many errors” in the second half and added: “We need points to secure this championship and it’s not been won yet. But we’re calm and now our focus is on Monaco.”
Asked about Tuesday’s fixture, Allegri added: “It’s a quarterfinal that will be decided over 180 minutes like all the other last eight ties. No anxiety or euphoria. Everyone says we’re favourites but football games are decided on the pitch.”
At Genoa, M’Baye Niang continued his revival following his January loan move from AC Milan by breaking the deadlock minutes at the Luigi Ferraris stadium, with Iago Falque sealing the points with Genoa’s second goal minutes later.
Niang had headed just over post and bar early on, while Paul-Jose M’Poku came close to a stunning opener for the visitors when he curled a drive over ‘keeper Eugenio Lamanna only to see his effort come off the bar.
Niang broke the deadlock minutes after the restart, doing well to lose his marker in the box before tapping Sebastian Roncaglio’s delivery past Lamanna to claim his fourth goal for his new side.
Elsewhere, Inter Milan returned to winning ways in style, building on Mauro Icardi’s fortuitous opener on 11 minutes to beat hosts Verona 3-0 thanks to a Rodrigo Palacio strike on 48 minutes and an own goal from Vangelis Moras in added-on time after Inter ‘keeper Samir Handanovic saved a Luca Toni spot kick.
Inter had been winless since the end of February and their first win in six league games has given faint hope to their push for a place in the Europa League next season.
Roberto Mancini’s men remain in 10th place, six points behind fifth-placed Sampdoria ahead of their trip to AC Milan on Sunday.