Giuseppe Iachini won on his Empoli debut, but Udinese missed a penalty and had many more scoring opportunities on their way to another defeat.
It was a controversial decision to sack Aurelio Andreazzoli, as his Empoli earned praise for their performances, but Iachini declared his job was to ensure they “aren’t just pretty to look at.” He adopted a 4-3-2-1 formation for his debut, missing only Levan Mchedlidze. Julio Velazquez was in danger after one point from six rounds, but had to do without Emmanuel Badu, Lukasz Teodorczyk, Antonin Barak and suspended Bram Nuytinck.
The Friulani took control from the start, as Rodrigo De Paul’s curler on a corner was acrobatically palmed away, then the Argentina international set up Kevin Lasagna for a shot that rattled the crossbar on 25 minutes.
Moments later, Ignacio Pussetto controlled a De Paul pass over the top and forced on-rushing Provedel into another tricky save.
Provedel flew to palm a ferocious Jens Stryger-Larsen strike out of the top corner. It was all Udinese and Matias Silvestre threw himself in the path of a Pussetto tap-in.
However, completely against the run of play, it was Empoli who took the lead at the Stadio Castellani with a well-worked goal. Zajc started the move with Rade Krunic and Francesco Caputo, who held off a defender to hold up the ball for Zajc’s finish from 10 yards.
Provedel was again decisive before half-time on Pussetto’s right-foot scorcher.
Remarkably, the Tuscans doubled their lead following the restart. Zajc saw his corner flicked on by Rade Krunic for Caputo to finish it off with a header off the underside of the crossbar.
Hatem Junior Traore’s scorcher from distance forced a tricky Musso save for a corner, but Lasagna saw his goal disallowed for an offside position on Pussetto’s assist.
When Udinese did finally get the chance to score as Domenico Maietta brought down Lasagna right on the line, De Paul stepped up and ballooned the penalty over the crossbar.
It was a blow to their confidence, but the Friulani got straight back in there with Pussetto’s goal moments later, volleying in a Darwin Machis cross at the far post.
Udinese poured forward and thought they’d equalised on 89 minutes when Pussetto’s cross found Marco D’Alessandro, but Provedel performed a remarkable reaction save.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk
Missed penalty: De Paul 79 (U)