There were three sensational goals as Udinese beat Fiorentina 2-1 in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final.
The two teams had very different prospects in Serie A, but went head-to-head in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final. The decider will be at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on February 11. The Friulani had already eliminated Inter and Milan, so are hoping to reach their first Final since 1922, but 17-year-old Simone Scuffet was in goal after his Serie A debut at the weekend. The Viola were without Giuseppe Rossi, Mario Gomez, Alberto Aquilani, Massimo Ambrosini, Ante Rebic and Nenad Tomovic, but ex-Sunderland and Lazio defender Modibo Diakite got his debut.
It had been raining in Udine for days, but the newly-refurbished pitch appeared to hold out well. Only some sections of the stadium were open due to reconstruction work.
Gonzalo Rodriguez charged down an early Antonio Di Natale effort in the box, while Gabriel Silva and Nico Lopez also had shots beaten away.
Juan Manuel Vargas turned an angled drive just wide, but Udinese continued to have the better of the overall play.
Gianpiero Pinzi surged forward on the counter and forced Neto to parry his shot, then Roberto Pereyra drilled inches wide on the follow-up. Joaquin pounced on a Bubnjic slip only to blast over the bar, but Udinese took the lead before half-time.
Pereyra burst forward on the counter, spread wide for Widmer who rolled across for Di Natale to come sliding in at the back post. It was his first goal from open play in all competition since September.
Moments later Alessandro Matri had penalty appeals when his backheel flick struck Maurizio Domizzi on the elbow from point-blank range, but it was clearly involuntary.
Scuffet bravely rushed off his line to block at Matri’s feet from six yards after a slip-up and it was only a warning for the Viola equaliser.
Di Natale was dispossessed in midfield and Vargas smashed an unstoppable strike in off the underside of the crossbar that left Scuffet with no chance. More than just an equaliser, it was also a precious away goal for Fiorentina and also a controversial one, as replays suggest Di Natale was fouled in the build-up.
Straight after the restart, Matri volleyed over from a Borja Valero cross and Scuffet used his legs to parry a Joaquin angled drive at the base of the near post. David Pizarro and Vargas tested the teenage goalkeeper from distance, then Gabriel Silva got his body in the way to charge down Joaquin’s volley from a wonderful curling Borja Valero cross.
Fiorentina were dominant in the second half, Matri’s chest and volley with his back to goal was just wide and the same fate befell a Vargas header.
Luis Muriel had been on the field for 30 seconds when he had a great scoring opportunity, firing over after a wonderful mazy run from Widmer to reach the by-line. The Colombian’s first touch let him down from a through ball, but he restored Udinese’s lead moments later.
Muriel unleashed a piledriver from 20 metres that flew in off the inside of the post, again giving Neto no chance with the third excellent goal of this game.
Vargas had a rare right-foot effort charged down in the area by Widmer.
Udinese 2-1 Fiorentina
Scorers: Di Natale 36 (U), Vargas 44 (F), Muriel 83 (U)
Udinese: Scuffet; Widmer, Bubnjic, Domizzi, Heurtaux; Gabriel Silva, Allan, Pinzi (Badu 78), Pereyra; Di Natale (Fernandes 46), Nico Lopez (Muriel 67)
Fiorentina: Neto; Diakité, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Savic, Pasqual; Borja Valero (Anderson 76), Pizarro, Mati Fernandez; Vargas (Matos 88), Matri, Joaquin (Cuadrado 70)