Parma, 4 November 2021 – To get you in the mood for our trip to Lecce’s Stadio Via del Mara on Sunday, we’re bringing you a tale from the annals of Crociati History that shows just how tricky this tie can be.

We’re talking about a really hard-fought win, despite Lecce going down to ten men on the half-hour mark.

It was matchday 12 of Serie A, on Sunday 7 December 2003.

Referee Mauro Bergonzi, in the 31st minute, showed a red card to Lecce goalkeeper Vukašin Poleksic, who was preferred, at that time, by coach Delio Rossi to Italy U21 international Marco Amelia. The latter would join Parma during the subsequent January transfer window.

The Montenegrin was sent off after he brought Alberto Gilardino down in the box.

Amelia was sent into the fray and held his nerve, saving Domenico Morfeo’s penalty.

Claudio Cesare Prandelli’s boys did manage to get themselves in front right at the start of the second half.

Gila, in the 46th minute, took advantage of mix-up at the back for the hosts.

Right-back Daniele Bonera sent the ball long for Mark Bresciano, who headed it down on the edge of the box. The ball was destined for our striker, who rifled it home after defender Cristian Silvestri failed to clear (1-0 to Parma).

Lecce were not to be perturbed are, in the 61st minute, came close to equalising through Max Tonetto, who struck the post from close range.

The hosts did bring themselves level in the 68th minute. Bergonzi awarded the Giallorossi a penalty for a foul on Ernesto Javier Chevanton by Paolo Cannavaro. The Uruguayan then stepped up to take the spot-kick and converted calmly (1-1).

The Giallorossi gave it their all to equalise and seemed to be happy to take the draw.

But Parma hit the gas and restored their lead in the 77th minute.

It was Gilardino with the goal again. Midfielder Marco Donadel found the forward with a delightful long ball, which Gila took down with his left, shifted it onto his right and unleashed – Amelia could only stand and watch as the ball sailed into the far corner. It ended 2-1 to Parma.

Our team kept pace near the top of the table, in amongst Italy’s biggest clubs.

Two weeks later, the Club would be rocked by the Parmalat crash, which, however, didn’t stop the Gialloblù from fighting for a Champions League spot until the very end of the season.

 Photos: Gilardino in action, Bergonzi sends of Poleksic, Junior heads the ball; coach Prandelli, Gila celebrates with the Parma fans; Benito Carbone in a challenge with Lecce’s Sebastiano Siviglia; Bresciano fights in midfield; the team celebrates with the away supporters after the game. Below: Parma fans at the Stadio Via del Mare.