Late goals from Antonio Di
Natale and Mauricio Isla sent Udinese top of Serie A after a 2-0
win at home over AS Roma on Friday.
After a disappointing opening hour between two of Serie A's
most exciting teams, Di Natale broke the deadlock on 79 minutes,
cracking his ninth goal of the season after running on to
Giampiero Pinzi's fine through ball.
Chilean midfielder Mauricio Isla settled the contest a
minute from time, tapping in Pablo Armero's cross to give
Udinese their sixth straight home win this season.
"I've rediscovered my team tonight," Francesco Guidolin told Italy's
Sky Sport channel, wiping away memories of his team's below-par
performance in last weekend's loss at Parma.
"We played according to our strengths and with great
courage. We didn't want to give ground to Roma and get punished
and that's exactly what we managed."
Whether it was the unusual Friday night kick-off or the
10-minute delay before the start because of a loose net, both
Udinese and Roma appeared to lack rhythm in a niggly first half.
With Brazilian centre-half Juan back in coach Luis Enrique's
starting XI, Roma employed a high back-line and the first chance
for the home side did not arrive until just before the half-hour
mark when Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia headed Di Natale's
corner just over the bar at the near post.
Udinese continued to dominate possession and goalkeeper
Maarten Stekelenburg was forced into a first save four minutes
before half-time, comfortably holding on to Almen Abdi's firm but
centrally placed right-foot shot from just outside the box.
The effort appeared to wake Roma up and three minutes after
Fernando Gago drove just wide from distance, Miralem Pjanic
flashed a left-foot shot wide following a fine move involving
Pablo Osvaldo in first-half stoppage-time.
Roma began the second period more in the groove and after
Samir Handanovic had turned aside a 30-metre piledriver from
Daniele De Rossi, the dangerous Osvaldo shot just over after
twisting to find space on the edge of the box on the hour-mark.
Playing on the break, the home side came close to taking the
lead four minutes later but after an almighty scramble in the
Roma box, Dusan Basta's strike was brilliantly blocked by
Di Natale had been kept quiet all night but he finally broke
through just as it looked as though the game would end goalless,
running on to Pinzi's clipped pass before firing high into the
With Roma chasing the game, Isla doubled the home side's
advantage at the death, side-footing home from close range after
Colombian winger Armero had stolen possession and centred from
Enrique felt Roma did not deserve their fifth loss of the
"A draw would have been a fairer result," said the Spaniard,
whose side remain fifth.
"Kjaer pulled up for the first goal and then they
just hit us on the break. We were a bit more conservative today
in going forward as they had five midfielders."
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