Both Udinese and Sassuolo missed penalties, but Antonio Di Natale marked his record game with the decisive goal.
Sassuolo had raised their game since the return of Coach Eusebio Di Francesco, beating Catania in a showdown last week. Domenico Berardi was still suspended, while the injury list included Matteo Brighi, Luca Antei, Thomas Manfredini, Luca Marrone, Pucino and Sansone. The Friulani had a full squad to choose from, but unpredictable in a campaign of peaks and troughs.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off and Udinese wore black armbands to mark the death of Giancarlo Pozzo, the brother of patron Gianpaolo.
Antonio Di Natale made history, beating Valerio Bertotto’s record to become the Udinese player with the most Serie A appearances, now on 324.
Simone Zaza almost scored a sensational goal, as he flicked the ball with his heel to confuse defenders then unleashed an angled drive, but 17-year-old ‘keeper Simone Scuffet stuck out a leg to parry at the near post.
Di Natale marked his record in the best possible way by getting on the scoresheet. The veteran was ready with a diving header at the back post to redirect a deflected Gianpiero Pinzi effort.
Paolo Cannavaro’s shot on the volley was deflected over the bar, but the referee awarded a penalty when Farias came out of the wall with his elbow raised to charge down a Di Natale free kick. Di Natale stepped up to take it, but ballooned over the bar and immediately vented his anger at the chunk of turf that came off during that spot-kick.
Sassuolo lost Antonio Floro Flores to a suspected left thigh strain before half-time. Pinzi took one for the team, earning a yellow card for his foul to stop Zaza’s dangerous counter-attack.
The referee also awarded a soft penalty to Sassuolo for a timid Pinzi nudge in the back on Gabriele Masucci. However, Sergio Floccari missed too, his spot-kick drilled against the base of the upright.
Sassuolo gave 17-year-old Tonny Sanabria his Serie A debut after he arrived in January from Barcelona for €4.5m plus bonuses.
Floccari went close with a header that was just off target from Magnanelli’s chipped cross.
Emmanuel Badu wasted a double opportunity to put the result under lock and key late on, as he scuffed a Luis Muriel through ball and then hit the second attempt straight at Lorenzo Ariaudo.
Longhi could well be the latest Serie A player to be punished using video evidence, as he was caught on camera punching Bruno Fernandes in the stomach in an off the ball incident.
Masucci had a spectacular overhead kick in stoppages, but Danilo got himself in the way.
Missed penalty: Di Natale 36 (U), Floccari 72 (S)