Verona ended their winless streak in style, fighting back for a 2-1 victory in Udine and Luca Toni’s 300th career goal.
This was a Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Derby, but confidence levels were wildly different. The Friulani were fresh from a shock 2-1 win over Inter at San Siro, while Hellas had just three draws from the last nine rounds and lost three on the bounce. Juanito Gomez Taleb, Mounir Obbadi, Jacopo Sala, Frederik Sorensen, Artur Ionita, Bosko Jankovic and even goalkeeper Rafael were all out of action, while Rafa Marquez was suspended.
Verona had only two Serie A victories in Udine, in 1984-85 and last season, along with four draws and six defeats.
Antonio Di Natale’s free kick wasn’t far off and Orestis Karnezis flew to punch a deflected Vangelis Moras header out from under the bar.
Di Natale broke the deadlock with his 201st Serie A goal, getting in front of Guillermo Rodriguez for a precise header at the near top corner on a Bruno Fernandes cross from the left.
Luca Toni nodded just wide from a corner and Bruno Fernandes fired straight at Francesco Benussi.
Verona equalised on the stroke of half-time thanks to their own ‘little old man’ Toni. He showed great footwork by gathering with his back to goal, spinning round between two defenders and blasting under the bar from 10 yards. He held up a shirt celebrating this, his 300th career goal in all competition.
Within 90 seconds of the restart, Verona had turned the game around completely to lead 2-1. It was an all-Greek affair, as Lazaros Christodoulopoulos dribbled down the right flank and drilled his shot between Karnezis’ legs at the near post. It was a howler from the goalkeeper.
Rafa Marques risked an own goal to stop Di Natale scoring, testing the reflexes of goalkeeper Benussi. A wayward Giovanni Pasquale shot turned into an assist that Bruno Fernandes failed to control when clear on goal.
Nico Lopez also wasted a counter-attack, as Udinese struggled to really mount a fightback in the second half. Benussi stuck out a foot to parry Silvan Widmer’s volley and a brawl broke out in the final minutes when Allan reacted angrily to a terrible Valoti studs-up tackle on his ankle. That foul was worthy of a red card, but he was only booked.
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