By Michael Harrold
FK Austria Wien battled back superbly to claim a draw against Parma FC and set up a tense UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg in Italy next Thursday.
Austria fell behind to Andrea Pisanu's deflected 34th-minute strike against the run of play, but hit back strongly and got their equaliser on 61 minutes, Sebastian Mila scoring to reward Austria for a sustained spell of pressure.
Big three rested
Serie A survival remains Parma coach Pietro Carmignani's priority so Alberto Gilardino, Domenico Morfeo and Mark Bresciano all started on the bench. In their absence Parma have developed into a resilient defensive side in Europe and so it proved again here in the first half.
Austria enjoyed plenty of possession, but rarely troubled Luca Bucci in the Parma goal as the Italian side defended in numbers. Polish international Mila was Austria's greatest threat and it was his cross that set up the first chance after only two minutes. He picked out Štepán Vachoušek in the centre but the Czech headed over.
Mila, making his first UEFA Cup start since his January move from Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski, worked another opening for Vachoušek six minutes later, but this time he could not find the target with a rising shot.
Parma offered little in attack, restricting their energies to the odd foray on the break, and Austria seemed in control until Pisanu struck with 34 minutes gone. The ball broke fortuitously to the striker and his driven shot took a deflection that left Szabolcs Safar no chance in the Austria goal.
Austria's task now looked immense. Parma had not conceded a goal in 391 minutes of UEFA Cup football coming into the match, but the home side responded superbly. Rabiu Afolabi headed wide then moments after the restart Ivica Vastic somehow failed to connect with Sigurd Rushfeldt's cross from the left with the goal at his mercy.
On 49 minutes Bucci palmed away Saša Papac's shot as Parma were pressed back deeper but the equaliser was not long in coming. Vachoušek's low cross from the left was touched on by substitute Tosin Dosunmu on 61 minutes and fell to Mila whose angled shot flashed past Bucci. Austria sensed victory and pressed to the end, but Parma held out and will feel they have the edge next week, although Daniele Dessena will miss that game through suspension after being booked tonight.