If Antonio Di Natale is retiring, then he’s going out with a hat-trick in Udinese’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Sampdoria.
Di Natale had announced several months ago that this would be his final game, but all of Udinese spent the intervening period trying to change his mind, so the 36-year-old’s situation was still up in the air. The Friulani were without Luis Muriel, Maicosuel, Dusan Basta, Francesco Benussi and goalkeeper Simone Scuffet, while Thomas Heurtaux and Danilo sat out bans. Samp missed Pedro Obiang and Gaetano Berardi, while they too were waiting for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s decision on a new contract.
It was a bright start from both teams, as Manolo Gabbiadini drilled just wide and at the other end Bruno Fernandes saw his finish clawed out from under the bar by Vincenzo Fiorillo.
Zeljko Brkic beat away a Roberto Soriano solo effort and it was Sampdoria who broke the deadlock after 10 minutes. Gabbiadini chipped up a cross for Stefano Okaka’s free header from 12 yards, taking advantage of an Igor Bubnjic distraction.
Di Natale was about to score his 191st Serie A goal when springing the offside trap, but Fiorillo stuck out a foot to deny the angled drive. Udinese lost Gabriel Silva to injury early on, making way for fellow Brazilian Naldo.
Di Natale drew the hosts level with one of his classic moments of magic, curling a free kick over the wall and into the near top corner. Francesco Guidolin celebrated on the touchline by shining Di Natale’s boots, just as Francesco Moriero used to for Ronaldo at Inter.
Eder’s free kick whistled wide, but Udinese turned the game around complete with their veteran hitman again on target. Roberto Pereyra burst past three players and went round Fiorillo before rolling across for Di Natale’s finish with the outside of the right boot.
Fiorillo’s save denied Di Natale a hat-trick, then moments later Toto saw one shot parried at the near post and the follow-up thump the woodwork.
Di Natale was on fire and curled another free kick inches past the far top corner from a similar position to his first goal.
Garcia Renan came on for the second half and blasted just over, then Samp equalised when Okaka threaded through for Eder to spring the offside trap and poke the finish past an on-rushing Zeljko Brkic.
Barely a minute had gone by before Sampdoria turned the game on its head yet again. It was another Okaka assist and Soriano seemed to be pushed out too wide by Brkic, but kept his cool to fire in from the tightest of angles.
It was almost 4-2 moments later with Soriano curling inches past the near stick, Bruno Fernandes fired straight at Fiorillo and the goalkeeper took the sting out of a powerful Emmanuel Badu attempt.
Nico Lopez bizarrely managed to get himself booked before coming on, as during his warm-up he kicked the ball on the touchline before it had crossed the line.
Di Natale was still looking for his hat-trick and a scooped shot was going into the far top corner until Fiorillo’s desperate flying save.
Maurizio Domizzi turned a free header over from a corner, then Di Natale’s free kick was deflected off the wall and the 36-year-old forced another save from Fiorillo at the near post.
Di Natale was eventually gifted his hat-trick, as Piotr Wzsolek’s backpass was intercepted by the captain, who kept his cool one-on-one with the goalkeeper. It was Toto’s sixth goal in the last three games.