Sevilla FC and Parma FC go into next Thursday's second leg in Italy with nothing to separate them after tonight's UEFA Cup last 16 encounter at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium ended goalless.
The Spanish side were unable to capitalise on a hatful of opportunities and despite enjoying the upper hand for most of the evening, they found visiting goalkeeper Sébastien Frey in exquisite form.
Coach Joaquín Caparrós made several changes to the Sevilla side, bringing in precocious winger Jesús Navas and midfield player José Luis Martí, while Antoñito Ramiro and Julio Baptista lined up in attack. Paolo Cannavaro and Jorge Bolaño were both suspended, so Parma coach Pietro Carmignani handed rare starts to Cesare Bovo and Daniele Dessena.
Sevilla, setting their sights on reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in seven attempts, flew straight into action with Martí testing Frey as early as the fourth minute. It set the tone for the rest of the half, with the home side dominating possession but Parma ominously threatening Esteban Suárez's goal with the occasional counterattack.
Frey was quick to deny Jesuli on the quarter-hour mark, then Francesco Ruopolo answered by attempting an overhead kick at the opposite end. The home crowd were then left to wonder how neither Antoñito nor Pablo Alfaro could connect with a low Navas centre just before the half-time whistle.
Sevilla began the second period as they had the first, pressurising but lacking an edge with their finishing. Tough tactics from the visitors resulted in eight Parma names going into Dutch referee Rene Temmink's notebook. Caparrós, meanwhile, brought on Ariza Makukula, Darío Silva and Adriano Correia to intensify Sevilla's attacks.
Navas strikes woodwork
Marco Marchionni almost succeeded in surprising Esteban with a long-range effort just after the hour but the goalkeeper was quick to react. Parma's Frey then make more crucial interventions with a number of excellent stops to deny Makukula and Darío Silva in quick succession. Navas could have clinched a winner in the dying minutes but his shot rebounded, to Sevilla's dismay, off the post. The two-time UEFA Cup winners had succeeded in keeping the scores level.
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