German Denis bagged a brace against his former club to give Atalanta a much-needed victory over Udinese.
It had been a difficult start for the Orobici, who had just one win in their last 12 Serie A outings, while the Friulani were far from convincing either. Mario Yepes was suspended with Riccardo Cazzola and Giulio Migliaccio injured. Udinese were without Luis Muriel, Maurizio Domizzi, Giampiero Pinzi and Zeljko Brkic.
Atalanta were unbeaten in their last six matches against Udinese in Bergamo. Giacomo Bonaventura was furious when he was denied a penalty for Dusan Basta’s shirt tug, then Ivan Kelava flew to beat away a Guglielmo Stendardo diving header.
It was all Atalanta in the early stages, yet Udinese almost scored on the counter-attack on 20 minutes with their first real chance, Maicosuel sprinted forward and just failed to finish it off due to a last-ditch tackle.
Kelava punched away a Maxi Moralez cross-shot, but needed an extraordinary reaction save to deny German Denis with a header from point-blank range.
Atalanta finally found a deserved opener on the stroke of half-time, as a corner was knocked down accidentally by Emmanuel Badu for the Denis diving header at the back post. El Tanque found the net against his former club.
Straight after the restart the referee pointed to the spot for a Stendardo shirt tug on Danilo as Antonio Di Natale floated in a free kick. However, as Di Natale was standing there ready to take the penalty, the linesman called the official over and after a very long discussion lasting several minutes they opted to cancel the spot-kick because of an offside position. Replays show it was the right decision, but the delay was extraordinary.
There was at least no argument about a shot that Maicosuel saw fingertipped round the base of the post moments later.
Atalanta doubled their advantage with Denis, who ran on to a smart chipped Luca Cigarini pass to burst through the middle and place an angled drive across the on-rushing Kelava.
Udinese could’ve pulled one back in stoppages, but Nico Lopez’s shot was beaten away and Thomas Heurtaux unable to keep the follow-up on target.