Genoa fought back to sink Udinese 3-2 in a spectacular encounter, but it risked being ruined by a refereeing howler.
Pasquale Marino begged Grifone fans to stand by them in his first home game since replacing Alberto Malesani. His debut was a disastrous 3-0 defeat to Cagliari, even with new striker Alberto Gilardino. He faced his former club without Luca Antonelli, Dario Dainelli, Cesare Bovo, Kakha Kaladze and the suspended Emiliano Moretti. This meant Marco Rossi and Kevin Constant as make-shift defenders, but at least Rodrigo Palacio returned from injury and new buy Davide Biondini made his debut. The Friulani were fresh from a shock Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Chievo, while they had Mehdi Benatia, Kwadwo Asamoah and Emmanuel Badu at the Africa Cup of Nations.
There were chances at either end in the opening eight minutes. First Antonio Di Natale’s goal was ruled offside in a very dubious decision as he ran on to Gianpiero Pinzi’s pass, then Alberto Gilardino was sent clear only to see Samir Handanovic smother at his feet.
Handanovic was called into action again with his palms stung by Alexander Merkel’s strike from eight yards on a Palacio pull-back.
It was a very entertaining game, as Di Natale chipped a pass for Antonio Floro Flores’ half-volley beaten off the line by Sebastien Frey’s foot. Udinese took the lead from that corner kick, as Damiano Ferronetti was allowed far too much space for a powerful header, taking advantage of the make-shift Genoa defence.
Gilardino was on the ground and still managed to flick a loose ball towards the goal, but Handanovic was alert too and parried with an outstretched leg.
Frey flew to beat away a Floro Flores screamer and a Di Natale error risked sending Palacio clear on goal.
Straight after the restart Handanovic only parried a Bosko Jankovic free kick and Granqvist was quickest to react on the loose ball to draw Genoa level.
Moments later the Udinese goalkeeper also needed a tough save on Constant at the near post, but the move continued and Jankovic’s sensational volley at the back stick beat Handanovic for a second time in 60 seconds.
Floro Flores wasted a great chance to restore parity when one-on-one with Frey and Di Natale in support.
Instead, Palacio marked his comeback with a goal to extend Genoa’s advantage. Biondini sparked the counter-attack and Gilardino’s cross for Palacio was only touched by Joel Ekstrand, allowing the Argentine to thump in the finish from just inside the area.
There was huge controversy on 74 minutes, though. Marco Rossi performed a stunning sliding tackle to take the ball off Di Natale’s foot as he ran into the box. However, the referee awarded a penalty and a red card to a disbelieving Rossi. Di Natale got back up to convert and put Udinese back into this game amid the jeers of the Marassi crowd.
It was nearly 3-3, as Pinzi robbed Merkel outside the D and fired straight for goal, finding Frey’s stunning one-handed reaction save.
The match was wide open to the very end with Jankovic and Di Natale stinging the goalkeepers’ gloves.
Sent off: Rossi 74 (G)