Udinese and Lazio traded blows in this spectacular 2-2 draw at the Stadio Olimpico.
Last season these two battled for a place in the Champions League preliminary round, with only goal difference separating them. Lazio were out for revenge, though had a huge injury list including Federico Marchetti, Stefano Mauri, Cristian Brocchi, Abdoullay Konko and Simone Del Nero. Udinese missed Andrea Coda, Emmanuel Badu and Paulo Vitor Barreto, but rested Antonio Di Natale ahead of Wednesday’s showdown with leaders Juventus, which will be their third game in six days.
Albano Bizzarri rushed off his line to the corner flag to clear from Dusan Basta, acting more as a ‘libero’ than a goalkeeper. Antonio Floro Flores pulled back from the by-line for Kwadwo Asamoah, but Mobido Diakite performed a crucial intervention.
The Senad Lulic chipped pass found Cavanda at the back post, but his sliding volley only struck the side-netting. Mehdi Benatia was booked for a shove on Giuseppe Sculli, which means he’ll be suspended for Wednesday’s match against Juventus.
However, it was Udinese who took the lead at the 27th minute. Giovanni Pasquale burst down the left and put in a taut cross for the Floro Flores diving header from six yards to beat Bizzarri at the near post. It was a goal somewhat against the run of play.
Udinese now had even more room on the counter, as Torje dispossessed Gonzalez and crossed for the Mauricio Isla volley, which was deflected over the bar by a brave Stefan Radu.
Lazio did eventually get their deserved equaliser with a moment of magic from Lulic. The midfielder, who came to the club as a full-back, controlled on the edge of the box and was allowed the time to pick his spot, unleashing a grass-cutting screamer into the near bottom corner. The Udinese defenders allowed Lulic far too much space in a dangerous area, as Dusan Basta kept backing off.
At the dawn of the second half, the Biancocelesti turned the game around completely. Miroslav Klose confirmed his amazing season, as Rocchi flicked on a Cristian Ledesma cross to the back stick for the German, whose half-volley took a crucial deflection off Damiano Ferronetti to surprise Samir Handanovic.
Rocchi sprung the offside trap to test Handanovic at the near post, so Udinese threw on Di Natale and Almen Abdi.
Handanovic used his feet to beat away a Klose counter-attack in their one-on-one. Di Natale’s instant half-volley whistled just over, but at the other end Hernanes hit a wonderful dipping strike from 30 yards that Handanovic palmed out from under the bar.
Moments later, Udinese got the game back on level terms with ex-Lazio youth product Giampiero Pinzi. Pinzi sprung the offside trap down the right and, just before Diakite could come sliding in to block, he fired across Bizzarri from seven yards.
It was now wide open with chances for both sides every few seconds, whether Sculli’s shot charged down by Danilo or Di Natale testing Bizzarri on the counter-attack. With the last kick of the game, a Gonzalez low cross flashed across the face of goal and Libor Kozak went diving in, missing the tap-in by a matter of inches.