A Maxi Lopez penalty gave Catania a precious 1-0 victory, but Udinese were furious at two spot-kick appeals.
The Sicilians were still looking for their first win under Gigi De Canio, but missed Gonzalo Bergessio, Giuseppe Bellusci, Pablo Barrientos, Kingsley Boateng, Jaroslav Plasil, Fabian Monzon and Erick Cabalceta. The Friulani were without Antonio Di Natale, Maicosuel, Emmanuel Badu and Mathias Ranegie. Allan was dropped after a training ground row with Francesco Guidolin, but Bruno Fernandes got his first start and they fielded a four-man defence.
Only five fans made the very long trip from Udine to Catania for this game. It was an aggressive start, as in the opening six minutes Maurizio Domizzi and Dusan Basta entered the book.
Catania poured forward from the start and were only denied by a great Zeljko Brkic reaction save after 11 minutes on Lucas Castro’s fierce volley.
However, Luis Muriel almost gave Udinese the lead against the run of play, running on to a through ball to scuff his angled drive just wide. Moments later Roberto Pereyra couldn’t quite turn in a Gabriel Silva cross from eight yards, as Nicola Legrottaglie made a crucial intervention, then Muriel volleyed past the near post with the visitors suddenly waking up.
A Maxi Lopez strike was deflected out for a corner, but Pereyra went on a mazy run through defenders for a snooker shot that dribbled past Andujar only to slowly clip the upright of an open goal. From a corner, Thomas Heurtaux volleyed wide from six yards unmarked.
Keko wasted a glorious opportunity on 27 minutes, as Castro rolled across and he somehow prodded wide of an open goal from five yards.
The referee pointed to the spot when a corner was floated in and Domizzi – ignoring the ball entirely – shoved Legrottaglie. Maxi Lopez drilled his penalty low into the near corner for his first goal of the season. It has been a tough week for the striker, whose model wife Wanda Nara announced the end of their marriage via Twitter.
Udinese were furious when demanding a penalty for a Panagiotis Tachtsidis handling offence, but the referee and his assistants waved play on. The ex-Roma midfielder jumped with his arm up and appeared to deflect the cross for Domizzi’s header.
The tension escalated considerably and Tiberio Guarente was booked for holding back Pereyra, who reacted by lashing out an elbow to the face. The Udinese man avoided a card of his own.
Bruno Fernandes hit a long-range shot that dipped viciously on to the roof of the net. Catania lost ex-Udinese midfielder Sergio Almiron to a thigh problem.
The second half started in a more balanced manner, but Gianpiero Pinzi’s daisy-cutter from distance cracked against the base of the upright.
Muriel wanted a penalty again when his shot struck Legrottaglie’s arm from point-blank range, but he was instead booked for his extremely loud dissent. Muriel’s header was well held by Andujar, but Catania secured their first victory under De Canio.