Udinese pushed past Cagliari 2-0 in a fiery encounter with two red cards and a parried Kevin Lasagna penalty.
The Friulani had no reason to feel confident, sitting only two points clear of the relegation zone, and above all missed star man Rodrigo De Paul through suspension. He played a part in nine of his team’s total 14 goals, scoring six of them, so his importance could not be under-estimated. The usual long-term absentees continued to be Samir, Lukasz Teodorczyk, Svante Ingelsson and Emmanuel Badu. Joao Pedro was not fully fit due to an ankle injury, with Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Castro out of action.
Cagliari had won only two of their last 23 Serie A visits to Udine, drawing seven.
The Sardinians were more aggressive to begin with, Alberto Cerri’s header palmed over the bar by Musso, but Udinese broke through on the stroke of half-time.
Jens Stryger-Larsen’s intelligent cross-field pass found Ignacio Pussetto for a chest, bounce and angled drive into the far bottom corner.
There was an incident on 53 minutes that absolutely nobody was happy with. Pussetto was going clear on the edge of the penalty area when nudged in the back by Luca Ceppitelli. In the second it took for the ball to roll into the path of Kevin Lasagna to score, the referee blew the whistle to halt play and send Ceppitelli off for stopping a clear scoring opportunity.
Udinese doubled their lead when Valon Behrami’s snapshot took a decisive deflection off teammate Pussetto to wrong-foot Alessio Cragno at the near post.
Nicolò Barella gave away a penalty moments later, but Cragno did very well to save Lasagna’s spot-kick and keep 10-man Cagliari in it.
However, the Udinese pressure proved too much. After Opoku’s effort from a corner skimmed the upright from six yards, Valon Behrami’s strike took a deflection off Pussetto to wrong-foot Cragno in the near bottom corner.
Udinese were then awarded a penalty for Nicolò Barella’s foul on Lasagna, but the striker stepped up and saw his spot-kick saved by Cragno.
The hosts also went down to 10 men, as at first Rolando Mandragora was only booked, but the referee viewed his studs-up challenge again and opted for a straight red.
Cragno kept the scoreline down in stoppages with a smart save on Seko Fofana.
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Sent off: Ceppitelli 53 (C), Mandragora 79 (U)
Saved penalty: Lasagna 62 (U)