Sassuolo ended their nightmare run and intensified Udinese’s problems with a 2-1 away victory, sealed by Stefano Sensi.
Both sides were in crisis going into the Dacia Arena, as Massimo Oddo’s honeymoon period had ended with four consecutive defeats and they were sorely missing injured striker Kevin Lasagna. The Neroverdi were winless in nine rounds, had dropped into the relegation zone and saw bans for Domenico Berardi, Antonino Ragusa and Federico Peluso, so moved to a 3-5-2 system.
The 1-0 win earlier this season was Udinese’s first victory over Sassuolo since March 2014, interrupting three draws and as many defeats, home and away.
The visitors had VAR appeals waved away when Jens Stryger Larsen appeared to tread on Khouma Babacar’s foot in the penalty area, not making contact with the ball.
Maxi Lopez tried an audacious back-heel flick on Rodrigo De Paul’s cross and Claud Adjapong’s control and strike was deflected just over the bar by Silvan Widmer.
Luca Mazzitelli’s ferocious strike from distance was plucked out from under the bar and De Paul curled just past the far top corner.
The deadlock was broken by accident, because a Sensi corner went past Francesco Acerbi and ricocheted into the net off Ali Adnan from six yards.
Less than two minutes had passed before Udinese equalised with a stunner. Samir won back possession with a sliding tackle on Mazzitelli in midfield and Seko Fofana curled the magnificent finish into the far top corner from 20 metres out. VAR was used to view the challenge again, but the referee gave the all-clear.
Stefano Sensi tested Albano Bizzarri from distance, but when Stipe Perica came off the bench for frustrating Maxi Lopez, he had a header off target within 20 seconds.
Matteo Politano skimmed the far top corner of the net with a dipping, swerving strike from distance that gave Bizzarri a moment of panic.
Politano was starting to take control, as he dribbled into the box and Bizzarri rushed off his line to push the ball off his foot with one hand.
Moments later, Politano went to his more habitual wide right role and nutmegged Samir to roll across perfectly for Sensi, who snuck up behind Behrami to fire in from seven yards.
Udinese went so close to an equaliser in stoppages, as Ante Balic’s effort took a double deflection to dribble inches wide of the near post with Andrea Consigli rooted to the spot.
The last move of the game saw Jankto's glancing header whistle wide, as Udinese fell to their fifth consecutive defeat.
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