Nico Lopez and Thomas Heurtaux earned Udinese’s 2-1 away victory, plunging Livorno further into crisis.
Both sides were struggling with one point from their last three games, so the pressure was on. Francesco Guidolin even threatened to quit Udinese after the 2-0 home defeat to Torino and made surprise changes, starting Nico Lopez and giving 19-year-old Brazilian Douglas his Serie A debut. Alfred Duncan was suspended for Livorno, who picked Alessandro Lambrughi and Marco Biagianti.
The hosts had the first chance after nine minutes when Luca Siligardi went on the counter from a charged down Antonio Di Natale free kick, his angled drive flashing across the face of goal.
However, moments later Udinese took the lead. Nico Lopez was a surprise starter and the 20-year-old Uruguayan who is co-owned by Roma made his chance count. He dispossessed Emerson in the final third and surged forward to nutmeg Francesco Bardi from a tight angle at the near post. Livorno thought it was a foul, but Emerson lost control of the ball.
It was a wide open start and Zeljko Brkic needed a one-handed save to deny Leandro Greco’s fierce strike. Pasquale Schiattarella was booked for diving and confessed to the crime, shaking the referee’s hand.
Nico Lopez pounced on another error, but Schiattarella got back for a decisive interception, then at the other end Danilo charged down shots from Paulinho and Biagianti in quick succession.
Brkic was at full stretch to palm a deflected Andrea Luci strike round the post, then a couple of minutes later had his gloves stung by Luca Siligardi.
The Amaranto pressure eventually paid off, as Siligardi turned Maurizio Domizzi inside out down the right flank and drilled across Brkic into the far bottom corner.
Dusan Basta fired just wide of the near stick and on the counter Federico Ceccherini blasted over the bar. In first half stoppages Allan burst to the by-line and his cross-shot was deflected off Luci, making it loop over Bardi, but the Italy Under-21 goalkeeper reached back to claw it on to the crossbar with his fingertips. Desperate defending stopped Nico Lopez and Di Natale turning in the rebound.
Udinese did restore their lead after the restart. Di Natale’s corner found Danilo for a volley that Bardi did brilliantly to beat away from six yards, but could do nothing on Thomas Heurtaux’s follow-up. Surprisingly, the defender is Udinese’s joint top scorer with Di Natale on four goals this season.
Greco crucially charged down another Basta attempt and Schiattarella blocked off Nico Lopez in the box, as Livorno were being pegged back in this second half and ineffective when they did manage to go on the counter-attack.
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