MEXICO CITY (AP) – Novara showed all of the battling qualities they will need to survive in Serie A this season as the promoted side's first top-flight match in more than half a century ended in a commendable 2-2 draw at Chievo on Sunday.
Novara won back-to-back promotions under coach Attilio Tesser to earn their place at Italian football's top table and did not look out of place as they mounted a stirring fightback against the Flying Donkeys.
The hosts looked to be cruising when they established a 2-0 lead inside 24 minutes thanks to goals by Sergio Pellissier and Cyril Thereau, but Novara set nerves jangling in the home ranks when Francesco Marianini pulled one back before the half-hour.
Chievo, who finished 11th in the top flight last season, hit trouble with 18 minutes remaining when Gennaro Sardo was given his marching orders for a second booking, and the inevitable arrived five minutes from time as Massimo Paci struck a famous equalizer for Novara.
The hosts wasted no time in handing Novara a harsh reminder of the realities of life in Serie A, just five minutes on the clock when Thereau crossed from the left and Pellissier stole in front of his marker to guide the ball home.
A swift counter-attack on 24 minutes doubled the hosts' lead, Luca Rigoni hitting the ball long for Perparim Hetemaj to tee up Thereau, who unleashed a thumping effort into the top-right corner.
But just three minutes later the promoted side had a lifeline when Takayuki Morimoto flicked the ball through for Marianini who had a simple task to beat Stefano Sorrentino.
The entertaining fare continued after the break with Michel Morganella going close for the visitors and Hetemaj firing over the bar for Chievo.
But Chievo's hopes of holding on for all the points were hit on 72 minutes when Sardo received a second yellow card following a bad foul on Jeda.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the hosts continued to make chances and could have made the points safe in the final 10 minutes only for Davide Moscardelli to somehow fire over when all alone in front of goal.
And that miss was punished to a full just a minute later when Alex Pinardi crossed and Paci was on hand to head home and secure Novara's first top-flight point since 1956.