Udinese are now clear in third place after this chaotic victory over nine-man Genoa.
The Friulani were joint third with Napoli going into the weekend and welcomed a Genoa side who needed only a point to secure their Serie A safety. Mauricio Isla was the only absentee for Francesco Guidolin, while Coach Gigi De Canio had to do without Luca Antontelli, Kakha Kaladze, Kevin Constant and Cesare Bovo.
Juraj Kucka was booked for a tackle on Giampiero Pinzi that forced the Udinese midfielder to limp off. Sebastien Frey beat away a powerful Giovanni Pasquale strike from a touched-on free kick down at the base of the near post.
Antonio Di Natale’s splendid volley flashed across the face of goal to skim the back stick.
Genoa went down to 10 men within the opening half-hour, as Kucka received a second yellow card for running into the back of Diego Fabbrini as he was bursting towards the box.
From that free kick, Udinese took the lead with a splendid Di Natale free kick that curled in at the near post, dipping to squirm between the woodwork and Frey.
Pasquale’s left-foot strike skimmed the upright to Frey’s left, but 10-man Genoa threatened a shock equaliser on 36 minutes with a classic counter-attack, springing the offside trap to whistle just wide of the upright.
There was a bizarre moment before half-time when Palacio fell under a challenge, the referee waved play on and the Genoa striker must’ve said something to the official for a straight red card. The Argentine insisted he had been insulting teammate Emiliano Moretti rather than the referee, asking Udinese Coach Francesco Guidolin for help as a witness, but the official did not want to hear of it.
It meant Genoa were forced to play with nine men for the entire second half, plus both Kucka and Palacio will be suspended for the final game.
Di Natale’s looping header skimmed the crossbar with Frey flying, while an attempt from substitute Antonio Floro Flores took a huge deflection off Moretti, forcing Frey into a desperate save.
Udinese thought they had doubled their lead from a free kick that found Michele Pazienza in the six-yard box, but the referee disallowed it for reasons that are not entirely clear. He gestured there was a push, but replays do not highlight anything particularly serious, nor an offisde position.
Kwadwo Asamoah had his back to goal from four yards when latching on to Dusan Basta’s cross, but rather than turn he attempted a backheel flick and fell over.
Udinese did double their lead when Basta’s cross to the back post found Floro Flores to volley under the crossbar from a tight angle. He did not celebrate, partly because he is a former Genoa player and partly due to a row with Guidolin.
Samir Handanovic finally got a touch on 69 minutes, parrying a Bosko Jankovic free kick, but it was all Udinese’s with the minimum of effort. Di Natale misfired from a Basta assist and Asamoah blasted wide.
Sent off: Kucka 29 (G), Palacio 38 (G)