Lazio dominated the first half, Udinese had the better of the second, but the Biancocelesti clung on for a morale-boosting 2-1 victory.
Both sides desperately needed a pick-me-up after disastrous defeats. Lazio were beaten 4-0 by Juventus in the Italian Super Cup here a week ago, while Udinese lost 3-1 at home to Slovan Liberec in the Europa League play-off. Antonio Di Natale needed five stitches after that match, but was able to start, though Zeljko Brkic was still sidelined.
The Biancocelesti were without Abdoulay Konko, Felipe Anderson, Alfaro, Bruno Pereirinha and Vinicius. Stefano Mauri was in the stands waiting for an appeal verdict against his six-month ban for failing to alert authorities to a potential fix. The Curva Nord was closed off as punishment for racist abuse from Lazio fans during the Super Cup, so the Biancocelesti wore shirts with special anti-racism messages.
It was a fiery start and former Udinese midfielder Antonio Candreva’s deflected shot thumped the base of the upright. Moments later an Alvaro Gonzalez header whistled wide from Candreva’s cross. There were already two bookings after eight minutes, including for Serie A debutant Diego Novaretti.
Lazio had the far stronger start and broke through with a Hernanes gem, as he burst down the left and beat Kelava with a surprise fierce shot between goalkeeper and the near post. The Brazilian celebrated with his traditional mid-air flip.
Udinese’s second choice goalkeeper was having a nightmare, as he brought down Miroslav Klose for a penalty and was fortunate to only be booked. Candreva stepped up and converted the powerful spot-kick.
Kelava got down well to parry a Hernanes strike, then Stefan Radu’s free header whistled just wide. Most of Udinese’s attacks went through Dusan Basta, while Federico Marchetti beat away a Maicosuel free kick.
Klose should’ve made it 2-0 before the break, but tried to hit it too sweetly and ended up blasting wide. After the restart Kelava parried a Hernanes free kick and was glad Senad Lulic wasted the most of the follow-up.
Lulic and Candreva combined on the counter with a smart give-and-go, but the finish was charged down in the box.
Just as Lazio were dominating, Udinese struck with a classic counter-attack. Luis Muriel had come off the bench at half-time and beat Marchetti with a delightful chip.
Giampiero Pinzi went off after a collision with Gonzalez and Marchetti came tearing out to smother at Andrea Lazzari’s feet, as Udinese were a completely different team in this second half.
Udinese shoukd’ve equalised when Maicosuel robbed Andre Dias in the box and rolled across for Piotr Zielinski, but the teenager incredibly blasted over from point-blank range! He was also unfortunate, as the ball took an unusual bobble just before reaching his foot.
Hernanes wasted a counter-attack by going for goal rather than passing to an unmarked Candreva. Maurizio Domizzi went down in the box during stoppages, but the referee booked him for dissent.