Luca Toni bagged a brace as Hellas Verona earned a very impressive 3-1 victory away to Udinese.
Hellas may be newly-promoted, but they went into this round in sixth place and nine points clear of Udinese. Luis Muriel was still sidelined for the hosts and Maurizio Domizzi played with a protective mask for his fractured nose, as Antonio Di Natale faced off with fellow veteran hitman Luca Toni. Juan Manuel Iturbe was benched following a car crash during his Christmas vacation in Paraguay. Verona had only ever won once here with an epic 5-3 scoreline in February 1985.
The visitors took the lead thanks to an absolute howler from goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic, who allowed a seemingly harmless Toni snapshot slip between his hands and legs as he crouched to smother.
Udinese poured forward for the rest of the first half, but struggled to make any real dents in the Hellas defence.
Instead, Toni doubled both his tally and Verona’s advantage. It was a smart Romulo pass with the outside of the boot, as Toni sprung the offside trap and slid in to anticipate Brkic, flicking the ball over the goalkeeper.
Roberto Pereyra got Udinese back into it before half-time with a sensational goal. With his first touch he took the ball away from two defenders and immediately volleyed it into the far bottom corner.
Toni almost completed his hat-trick in first half stoppages, but was just over the bar after a defensive error. Udinese also saw Coach Francesco Guidolin sent off for dissent.
Di Natale fired off target from a promising position straight after the restart, while Toni blasted just wide on the counter after Nico Lopez nodded a cross beyond teammate Andrea Lazzari.
Juan Iturbe came off the bench and almost immediately added a third goal for Verona. He robbed Danilo in the final third, squirmed between two defenders and while falling managed to squeeze the finish into the near bottom corner.
Di Natale’s daisy-cutter was inches wide, but Toni again threatened a hat-trick with his rising strike skimming the woodwork.