Antonio Di Natale’s second half goal was enough to give Udinese victory over Catania, who inch closer to relegation.
The visitors were the livelier of the two sides early on and could have been in front on ten minutes. Elefanti midfielder Jaroslav Plasil found space on the edge of the area and unleashed a powerful drive that seemed destined for the top corner, only for home goalkeeper Simone Scuffet to make a fine save as he tipped the ball over the bar.
From the resulting corner Rolando Maran’s side also had claims for a penalty turned down after Gonzalo Bergessio went down, but referee Doveri waved play on.
Francesco Guidolin’s Bianconeri, with relatively little to play for, struggled to pose a threat to their visitors. Nico Lopez’s left footed drive on the half hour mark was easily saved by Mariano Andujar as Catania continued to show promise on the counter-attack.
All the Elefanti’s hard work was almost undone seven minutes before half-time though. Defender Norberto Gyomber’s sloppy back pass was intercepted by Antonio Di Natale, who bore down on goal only for Andujar to make a vital double save to deny the forward.
The home side again should have taken the lead two minutes later. Allan calmly laid the ball across to Lopez just outside the six yard box but, with the goal gaping, the Uruguayan could only scuff his finish off target.
Guidolin was clearly unimpressed with his forward’s contribution for Lopez did not make it out for the start of the second half, with Bruno Fernandes coming on in his place.
The Bianconeri began the second period in brighter fashion than the first, with Fernandes curling a shot just over five minutes after the restart as he sought to make an instant impact.
The visitors continued to threaten themselves and just after the hour Francesco Lodi blazed a shot over the bar from the edge of the area.
It was the hosts who finally broke the deadlock though on 68 minutes. Some excellent Bianconeri interplay ended with Roberto Pereyra squaring the ball across the six yard box, leaving Di Natale with a simple headed finish at the far post.
The game became stretched as Catania went in search of the equaliser they desperately needed and Scuffet again did well to tip a goal-bound effort around the post with 12 minutes remaining.
The 17-year-old was again called into action five minutes later as he tipped over Bergessio’s powerful header as the home side clung to their narrow lead.
Try as they might, the Elefanti could not find a way through and they were left to wonder what might have been. With games running out, it is now difficult to see them avoiding the drop to Serie B.