A moment of Antonio Di Natale magic and Mauricio Isla’s counter gave Udinese their sixth consecutive home win to sink Roma.
Juan was given his first start since October 29 with Rodrigo Taddei at right-back, while Bojan Krkic was dropped as Erik Lamela moved up to a striker’s role. Francesco Totti, Aleandro Rosi, David Pizarro, Fabio Borini and Marco Borriello were injured. Udinese were fresh from a 2-0 defeat to Parma, so played it safe with Almen Abdi and Di Natale.
Kick-off was delayed by a few minutes, as one of the goals had not been set up correctly. It was immediately clear the Friulani were entirely focused on rapid counter-attacks, which Simon Kjaer had to dive in to stop Di Natale tapping in.
Lamela had penalty appeals for the slightest of contacts with Danilo, but the referee awarded a goal kick and didn’t book the Argentine. Udinese lost Maurizio Domizzi to muscular problems early on.
Isla struck the crossbar on Di Natale’s pass, but it wouldn’t have counted anyway due to an offside flag.
Mehdi Benatia nodded over from a corner and, after a long period of midfield battling, Maarten Stekelenburg had his palms stung by an Abdi snapshot. Miralem Pjanic’s free kick was well off target.
Just before the break Fernando Gago hit a screamer from outside the box that whistled just wide of the near post. At the other end, Di Natale and Pablo Armero failed to latch on to a Giampiero Pinzi free kick.
In first half stoppages Pjanic burst forward from midfield into the box only to drag his angled drive across the face of goal.
Daniele De Rossi let rip from distance within 90 seconds of the restart, forcing Samir Handanovic into his first tricky save. From that corner, Juan’s header drifted just past the post.
Lamela went on the counter and Danilo charged down his tepid cross-shot in the area. Di Natale wasted a good chance with his fresh-air volley from 10 yards on Kwadwo Asamoah’s cross.
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo skipped past his defender down the left flank, but fired over from a tight angle, as did Isla on the counter-attack.
Stekelenburg needed a desperate reaction save when Dusan Basta got on the end of a deflected corner from seven yards, but the Dutch goalkeeper stuck out a foot to parry from point-blank range.
The deadlock was eventually broken with 11 minutes left on the clock. Di Natale ran past Simon Kjaer on to a long Pinzi ball forward and exhibited excellent control, nodding it on to set up the right-foot shot on the volley into the near top corner.
Kjaer picked up an injury during that move, in which he allowed Di Natale to spring the offside trap.
Roma tried to fight back, but it only left more gaps for Udinese’s lethal counter-attacking. The Friulani doubled their lead as Armero burst down the left and drew out Stekelenburg, chipping the cross over the goalkeeper for Isla to tap into an empty net from a couple of yards.