A moment of late magic from Rodrigo De Paul allowed Udinese to snatch three points at the Stadio Via del Mare against unlucky Lecce.
This was a relegation dogfight between two sides who had until now been able to hover just outside the drop zone. Marco Calderoni was suspended for Lecce, with Zen Majer, Simone Lo Faso and Giannelli Imbula injured, while Samir missed the trip for Udinese.
There were weather warnings in place at the Stadio Via del Mare for strong, icy winds, but the game was able to go ahead.
Khouma Babacar’s early over-head kick was audacious, but off target, while Filippo Falco’s shot at the end of a solo run from midfield was straight at Juan Musso.
There was a sudden flurry of activity on 22 minutes, as Babacar hit a screamer from distance that rattled the crossbar, then on the rebound Marco Mancosu forced a flying save out of Musso.
Babacar wasted a golden opportunity created for him by Fabio Lucioni, as did Stefano Okaka when sent through the middle by Rodrigo De Paul.
Mancosu drilled wide from 20 metres, but Rolando Mandragora forced a tricky save out of Gabriel with his ferocious long-range attempt.
Okaka thought he’d opened the scoring straight after the restart, when redirecting a deflected Ilija Nestorovski effort, but VAR showed he was marginally offside.
De Paul fired not far over, then Okaka was again frustrated by the offside flag, as his delightful back-heel flick finish on a Mandragora assist would not count.
Babacar only scored a long time after the whistle had been blown for his foul on William Troost-Ekong, while Jacopo Petriccione’s chest and volley dipped just over the bar.
Lecce had to do some brave defending on 78 minutes, as Okaka’s dummy sent a De Paul pass through for Kevin Lasagna, but his first touch was poor, allowing a combination of Gabriel and Giulio Donati to fling themselves in his path.
Babacar went off with a thigh injury, but just as it seemed as if this would end goalless, De Paul popped up with a moment of real magic.
The Argentina international juggled with the ball off the outside of his boot to get past Lucioni in the box and turned in at the near post with the aid of a slight deflection.
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