Udinese got back on track by sweeping Catania aside 2-1, including an absolutely sensational Antonio Di Natale volley.
The Friulani had a very rough week leading up to this game, having lost to both Genoa in Serie A and Chievo in the Coppa Italia Round of 16. Andrea Coda and Paulo Vitor Barreto were absent along with African internationals Mehdi Benatia, Kwadwo Asamoah and Emmanuel Badu. Catania left Maxi Lopez out ahead of his imminent transfer to either Milan or Fulham.
Udinese took the lead with a classic counter-attack from Catania’s corner kick. Mauricio Isla burst forward from his own half and rolled a through ball for the on-rushing Pablo Armero, whose finish took a deflection off Mariano Izco to beat Andrea Campagnolo.
Sergio Almiron fired off target from the edge of the area, while Antonio Di Natale’s left-foot effort failed to trouble Campagnolo.
Udinese ran a huge risk on 38 minutes, as the defence was caught out and Samir Handanovic just about scrambled clear from Alejandro Gomez in a one-on-one.
Gianpiero Pinzi went off with a calf problem at half-time and Catania threatened with Marchese pouncing on Isla’s error to test Handanovic.
Di Natale doubled Udinese’s lead in truly spectacular fashion. Armero did well to slalom through two Catania defenders at the by-line and pulled back for Di Natale, who released a simply perfect left-foot volley under the bar from 10 yards. It was unstoppable and magnificent technique from the Capocannoniere.
The Elefantini had penalty appeals for a Dusan Basta nudge on Almiron’s back and Handanovic plucked a Francesco Lodi free kick out from under the bar.
Deep into stoppages Catania were given a penalty that Lodi buried past Handanovic, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.