Udinese celebrated Antonio Di Natale’s return with a controversial penalty in this victory at the Stadio Dall’Ara.
The Friulani have stuttered recently and failed to score in Serie A since losing Di Natale to injury. The captain returned after fracturing a bone in his foot, although was only fit for the bench, while Emmanuel Badu, Almen Abdi and Mauricio Isla were still out. Alessandro Diamanti was banned for Bologna with Simone Loria injured, so Safir Taider took over as support for Gaston Ramirez and Marco Di Vaio.
The home side had an aggressive start with Di Vaio and Ramirez free kicks cleared amid some difficulty. Di Vaio thought he had scored after 11 minutes when he ran on to a wayward Archimede Morleo cross-shot and tried to anticipate Samir Handanovic, but ended up clattering into the goalkeeper.
Di Natale’s corner kick found Maurizio Domizzi at the near post, but he fired over under pressure from Antonsson.
On 25 minutes another Di Natale set play found an overhead Dusan Basta kick which was almost deflected past Jean-Francois Gillet off Ramirez by mistake.
Morleo lost possession in Bologna’s own half to spark a classic Udinese counter-attack and Diego Perez brought down Di Natale for a penalty. Replays suggest contact was right on the outside edge of the area, possibly even with his foot partly on the line, but it was difficult to tell either way. The referee pointed to the spot and Di Natale buried it confidently with a powerful finish under the bar.
Udinese doubled their lead as Di Natale’s pass released Basta down the right, who dribbled past two Bologna players to delicately chip the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Perez had a promising opportunity, but his second touch was far too heavy and allowed Handanovic to smother. Di Natale’s right-foot strike was deflected off target and a Robert Acquafresca volley was too ambitious to beat Handanovic.
In the space of 30 seconds Gillet performed a decisive save on Gelson Fernandes, sparked the counter and Di Vaio knocked back a Morleo cross from the by-line for Panagiotis Kone to hammer home.
It didn’t last long, though, as substitute Antonio Floro Flores brilliantly volleyed into the ground from a Basta looping pull-back at the by-line.
Floro Flores threatened a fourth with his free kick well blocked by Gillet.