Cyril Thereau bagged a brace against his former club, giving Fiorentina a much-needed victory over surprisingly negative Udinese.
The Viola needed a boost after their surprise defeat to Chievo, but missed Gil Dias and Riccardo Saponara. It was a special game for Thereau, who scored in both his first two games of the season for Udinese before making the transfer to Florence. Gil Dias and Riccardo Saponara missed out for the hosts, while Valon Behrami, Danilo and Jens Stryger Larsen were injured, giving Silvan Widmer his first appearance of the campaign.
Fiorentina have now won six of the last nine league meetings, but Udinese lost all 11 of their visits between Serie A and the Coppa Italia since a 2-1 win here in November 2007.
Giovanni Simeone’s weak header was straight at Albano Bizzarri and Samir got back just in time to stop the ex-Genoa striker finishing a rapid counter-attack.
Another Simeone header looped over the bar from a Cristiano Biraghi cross, and Davide Astori did have the ball in the back of the net on 22 minutes with a sensational volley from a tight angle on a chipped free kick, but he was flagged offside.
Thereau thought he had scored moments later, as Bizzarri ran out almost to the corner flag and the Frenchman steered the ball towards the empty net, but Gabriele Angella sprinted back to clear off the line and on to the upright.
It was a warning shot that was not heeded, as Fiorentina inevitably took the lead. Simeone knocked down a Chiesa cross from the right for Thereau to tap in from close range, this time beating the offside trap. He pledged to celebrate even if he scored against his old club, but was relatively reserved.
Simeone almost added another within a couple of minutes, his smart control and angled drive smacking the inside of the far upright.
It was a painfully one-sided first half, as Udinese only emerged from their shell to have a Seko Fofana snapshot well wide on 42 minutes.
Inevitably, Gigi Del Neri had to make changes, introducing Ali Adnan and ex-Fiorentina forward Ryder Matos for the second period. After Marco Benassi and Jakub Jankto fired over the bar, Rodrigo De Paul got their first shot on target with a ferocious right-foot strike that Marco Sportiello had to fingertip round the base of the far post.
Just as Udinese were starting to get some possession, they were caught out on the counter for the second goal. Jordan Veretout won back possession in midfield and surged forward, his strike beaten away by Bizzarri into the path of Thereau.
De Paul thought he had got Udinese back into the game, but he only hit the back of the net after Maxi Lopez had strayed offside.
The goal did arrive when a De Paul free kick was not cleared effectively, the cross came back in and Samir sprung the offside trap to fire in from 10 yards.
Chiesa controlled a pass and held off his marker to sting Bizzarri’s gloves at the near post. On the resulting corner, Vitor Hugo almost scored with his first touch off the bench, given a free header, but it ricocheted off the back of Angella, allowing Bizzarri to smother.
The momentum was with the visitors in the final stages and the crowd jeered anxiously, but were unable to get the game back on level terms.