Chievo have sensationally knocked Udinese out of the Coppa Italia with a dramatic 2-1 victory at the Stadio Friuli, ending their unbeaten home record.
The Friulani limited their squad rotation for this test to get into the quarter-finals and gave January signing Gelson Fernandes his debut against his old club. Their last home defeat was against Arsenal in the Champions League preliminary round in August.
Udinese poured forward in the opening minutes, but were caught out by Chievo’s first real scoring opportunity. Joel Ekstrand’s poor defensive header to clear was straight into the path of Paolo Sammarco, who had no problem turning in the loose ball.
Momo Sissoko fired wide from a parried Antonio Di Natale effort, but Samir Handanovic had to rush off his line to charge down Alberto Paloschi in a one-on-one situation twice in the space of three minutes.
The home side dominated possession, but were repeatedly threatened on the counter-attack. Ekstrand’s header from a corner was well saved and Di Natale’s volley shaved a coat of paint off the upright.
However, Chievo had chances for a second too, as Davide Moscardelli’s shot was deflected on to the side-netting by Pereyra.
Francesco Guidolin made a double substitution at the break and immediately Antonio Floro Flores drilled just wide, a great one-handed save denied Di Natale, Almen Abdi’s blockbuster whistled past the post and Puggioni parried a Floro Flores snapshot. Nonetheless, Handanovic still needed a desperate reaction block on Gennaro Sardo from close range.
The pressure was increasing as Udinese laid siege on the Chievo goal, Puggioni performing a great save on Floro Flores from close range and the same striker acrobatically turning off target.
With six minutes left on the clock, Di Natale finally snatched an equaliser with a stunning right-foot free kick from a good 25 metres out that went in off the post.
Udinese were now pouring forward attempting to win the tie without having to resort to extra time. However, they left themselves exposed on the counter-attack and Chievo took full advantage. The Vacek through ball allowed Cyril Thereau to spring the offside trap and beat Handanovic one-on-one.
It still wasn’t over, as Puggioni stuck out a trailing leg to stop Fernandes tapping in on his Udinese debut. That save proved decisive, as Chievo will go on to face Siena in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.
Udinese 1-2 Chievo
Scorers: Sammarco 8 (C), Di Natale 84 (U), Thereau 91 (C)
Udinese: Handanovic; Ekstrand, Danilo, Ferronetti (Torje 75); Pereyra (Basta 46), Abdi, Sissoko, Fernandes, Pasquale; Fabbrini (Floro Flores 46); Di Natale
Chievo: Puggioni; Sardo, Morero, Acerbi, Drame; Vacek, Rigoni, Sammarco; Cruzado; Moscardelli (Thereau 68), Paloschi (Mandelli 73)