The on-loan Porto winger’s second-half cross-cum-shot settled a 1-0 victory – bankrupt Parma’s first since early January and fourth of the entire Serie A season – over a mid-table Udinese side who have nothing left to play for.
Although Parma move to within 13 points of safety thanks to the unlikely win, their perilous financial situation means they are unlikely to sustain a serious charge off the bottom of the table over the 10 games that remain.
After a cagey opening which saw Udinese testing the early concentration of Parma’s backline, the hosts broke forward and almost scored in the 14th minute.
Orestis Karnezis leapt through the air as Massimo Coda received the ball in the box before trying to ping it into the top corner, and several moments later the same striker forced a save from Udinese’s goalkeeper with a volley.
The Bianconeri bit back before the half-hour mark with Igor Bubnjic getting the better of Antonio Mirante only to head the ball against a post.
Coda soon tried his luck with a header over the Udinese bar from Varela’s cross, with the former West Brom man going for goal from distance himself shortly before the half-time whistle sounded.
Francesco Lodi took aim with a free-kick when play resumed, forcing Karnezis into a punched save, and Antonio Nocerino somehow managed to fluff an easy conversion from the rebound.
Udinese tried to push back, with Bruno Fernandes carving out an opening to set up Guilherme for a volley that flew over the bar, but it was Parma who opened the scoring.
In the 70th minute Varela opened his account in Italian football as he attempted to pick out Ishak Belfodil in the box. The Algerian had no chance of reaching the ball, however, as it sailed over Karnezis’ shoulders and went in.
Parma sensed blood and went close to doubling their lead through Belfodil, who collected Lodi’s forward pass only to drive it straight into Karnezis’ arms.
The signalling of four minutes of stoppage time sent nerves jangling around the Tardini but at the final whistle Parma fans were once again able to celebrate their team winning a game of football.