An extraordinary first half with seven goals and a saved penalty saw Udinese crush Livorno 5-3, sending them to the foot of the table.
While the Friulani were safely ensconced in midtable mediocrity, the situation was increasingly desperate for Livorno with four consecutive defeats. The return of Coach Davide Nicola didn’t help, as last week they lost 2-0 at home to Lazio. Goalkeeper Francesco Bardi and defender Leandro Rinaudo were suspended with Innocent Emeghara, Ibrahima Mbaye and Andrea Luci injured. Udinese also had numerous absentees, missing Dusan Basta, Maicosuel, Luis Muriel and Thomas Heurtaux.
Livorno had the brighter start and were clearly more motivated, as Simone Scuffet got a hand to turn Cristiano Piccini’s angled drive round the far post.
Antonio Di Natale almost scored a spectacular goal, but his overhead bicycle kick took a coat of paint off the upright.
It was Livorno who broke the deadlock thanks to their top scorer Paulinho, who curled a wonderful free kick into the near top corner, leaving Scuffet rooted to the spot.
However, Andrea Coda was penalised for pulling Maurizio Domizzi’s shirt on a corner, so the referee awarded a penalty. Di Natale stepped up and saw second choice goalkeeper Luca Anania brilliantly save his spot-kick at the near bottom corner.
However, from the resulting set play Di Natale was left unmarked to spring the offside trap at the back post and sent a cushioned half-volley into the net.
Moments later the game was turned on its head completely, as Udinese went in front. Di Natale surged forward on the counter and rolled across for Bruno Fernandes, whose touch was heavy, but it became an assist for Emmanuel Badu to fire in.
Livorno refused to give in and restored parity with another Paulinho free kick, this one taking a decisive deflection off Danilo in the wall to wrong-foot Scuffet. It was Danilo who had given away the free kick by taking down Paulinho just outside the box.
Udinese went in front again with a fantastic team move, as a series of one-touch passes tore the Livorno defence apart until Roberto Pereyra swept his finish under the bar.
Livorno were showing why they are in the drop zone, as the defence was again embarrassed by a quick passing move. Gabriel Silva was left totally unmarked to side-foot in from six yards at the back post on Pereyra’s cross.
Moments later Di Natale sprung the offside trap for a fifth, his first touch and finish with the outside of the right boot pure class.
Ishak Belfodil prodded inches wide after the restart, then blasted over the bar from a great position.
Livorno did eventually get one back in the final minutes when Belfodil’s daisy-cutter nutmegged a defender and was well saved by Scuffet, but Djamel Mesbah was quickest to pounce on the rebound.
Saved penalty: Di Natale 18 (U)