PARMA, Italy -- Parma took a big step
towards its third Italian Cup final in four years with a 2-0
semifinal first-leg victory over Brescia -- inspired by a superb
goal from Japanese playmaker Hidetoshi Nakata.
But Thursday's win was soured by an injury to Brescia
striker Roberto Baggio, whose World Cup hopes took another blow
when he was stretchered off in agony, 13 minutes after coming on
as a halftime substitute.
Brescia club doctor Ernesto Alicicco said Baggio had
suffered an injury to the same left knee that had kept him out
of action for three months but said the details would not be
known until after scans are carried out.
Brescia was more than a match for Parma in the first half
but fell behind to a delightful goal from Nakata who beat Czech
goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek with a perfectly-weighted chip in the
Nakata had been on the fringes of the Parma side until
recently and his place in Japan's World Cup squad has been in
Seven minutes later Parma had doubled its advantage
through Marco Marchionni, who headed home from close range.
Parma coach Gedeon Carmignani said the win was important for
his team but reminded the team its main task was to stay in Serie
"The Cup is important because it gives us a route into
European football but we need to fight on Sunday after Sunday,"
said Carmignani, whose team is in 15th place in the 18-team
The second-leg will be played in Brescia on February 7.
The other first-leg semifinal was played last week, Juventus
winning 2-1 at AC Milan.