Mauricio Pinilla came off the bench to inspire Palermo to a 3-1 win over Parma today to bring the Sicilians to within a point of the UEFA Champions League places.
Palermo were a shadow of their normal selves as Alessandro Lucarelli gave the visitors a first-half lead but Pinilla equalised after the break and then teed up Fabrizio Miccoli to smash home the winner before Cristian Zaccardo's late own goal added gloss to the result.
The victory puts Palermo fifth ahead of tomorrow's games and just a point behind Juventus and Napoli in the last two Champions League qualification positions. But such an outcome looked unlikely in a first half in which the hosts seemed clueless.
Parma - for whom assistant coach Massimo Mezzini was on the bench as coach Pasquale Marino was missing following the death of his mother - were ahead on seven minutes as Lucarelli headed home Sebastian Giovinco's corner, unmarked from eight yards out with Federico Balzaretti ball-watching.
It could have been worse on the quarter-hour as Antonio Candreva cut in from the right and tried his luck from 20 yards but Salvatore Sirigu palmed the ball away and then blocked Giovinco's follow-up.
Still Parma threatened and on 36 minutes Angelo dragged his shot just wide of the far post on the counter after Hernan Crespo set him up. Palermo had enjoyed a lot of possession but created nothing and coach Delio Rossi took no time to react as he hauled off playmaker Javier Pastore for Pinilla at half time.
The move paid instant dividends as the Sicilians were level on 51 minutes. Antonio Nocerino drove forward from midfield and played a one-two with Josip Ilicic, retrieving the Slovenian midfielder's brilliant backheel before shooting on goal. Antonio Mirante saved the shot but Nocerino prodded the follow-up to Pinilla to fire into the empty net.
Ten minutes later and the turnaround was complete as Dorin Goian launched a long ball forward and Pinilla won it in the air, knocking the ball down to Miccoli to volley home. Sirigu was called into action to tip a Crespo header over the bar while Mirante made a flying save to deny substitute Pajtim Kasami.
But a minute from time Zaccardo - a FIFA World Cup™ winner with Italy in 2006 when playing for Palermo - headed Ilicic's cross past his own goalkeeper under pressure from Kasami.