Antonio Di Natale’s brace turned the game around to beat Atalanta 2-1 and give Udinese a club record seventh straight win.
The Friulani were eager to continue their amazing run of six consecutive victories and simultaneously grab a Europa League spot. Atalanta were already safe from the threat of relegation and had a decimated squad, as Guglielmo Stendardo and Luca Cigarini sat out bans with German Denis, Davide Biondini, Igor Budan, Cristian Raimondi, Guido Marilungo, Franco Brienza and Riccardo Cazzola sidelined. Marko Livaja was frozen out after punching teammate Ivan Radovanovic in training. Udinese welcomed back Maurizio Domizzi, Danilo and Giampiero Pinzi from suspension.
Atalanta were unbeaten in this fixture since May 2009, earning four points from two visits. Di Natale forced Andrea Consigli into a save at the near post in the opening 90 seconds, then on four minutes his free kick curled over the wall to thump the crossbar.
However, it was Atalanta who took a surprise lead at the Stadio Friuli. Zeljko Brkic parried a Luigi Giorgi snapshot and the Giuseppe De Luca follow-up, but could do nothing on the third De Luca attempt from point-blank range.
It was so nearly 2-0, as Maxi Moralez turned a daisy-cutter inches past the base of the near post. Consigli kept out a Dusan Basta header, while Giorgi cut in from the right for a shot charged down that fell to Facundo Parra, who somehow ballooned over from eight yards.
Udinese did draw level with Di Natale just before the break. He ran into the box, exchanged passes with Allan and flicked the finish with the outside of his right boot so it rolled into the far bottom corner.
Straight after the restart, Di Natale completed his brace to turn the game around. The captain was perhaps a few inches offside, but had lightning quick reactions when the ball ricocheted into his path from 15 yards. It was his 175th Serie A goal.
However, there was bad news for the Friulani, as Di Natale was stretchered off due to a knee problem in the final minute.
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