Roma earned a hugely controversial win away to Udinese, as Davide Astori’s goal might not have crossed the line and there were penalty appeals.
The Giallorossi ended 2014 still three points behind leaders Juventus after drawing with Milan, so were determined to start the new year on the right foot. Gervinho, Seydou Keita, Emmanuel Badu and Molla Wague began Africa Cup of Nations duty, while Leandro Castan and Salih Ucan were injured, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa struggling with flu, but Kevin Strootman received a rare start. Udinese had Thomas Heurtaux and Gianpiero Pinzi suspended.
The record of this fixture in Serie A was extremely balanced with 14 home wins, 15 away and 11 stalemates. However, Roma hadn’t lost to Udinese in their last three encounters, home and away.
The deadlock was broken amid huge controversy, as Davide Astori’s header from a Francesco Totti free kick bounced off the underside of the bar and back out. Even numerous replays didn’t entirely clarify the situation, but after debate the referee declared it had crossed the line. It will be another call for goal-line technology to be introduced in Serie A, especially as Astori later confirmed the referee over-ruled the goal-line official.
Udinese fought back vehemently as Antonio Di Natale had a shot charged down in the box, was booked for dissent and then created a spectacular assist only for Gabriel Silva to volley wide from six yards.
Totti fired straight at Orestis Karnezis from 10 yards on a Juan Iturbe assist. Allan went on a mazy run and was eventually stopped by a clean Astori tackle in the box, sparking a Roma counter that saw Douglas Maicon’s shot smothered.
Miralem Pjanic was blocked just as he was pulling the trigger following a combination with Maicon and Totti. Karnezis got his hands to an Iturbe effort and Adem Ljajic was offside on the follow-up, then parried a Pjanic finish with the inside of the foot.
There were worrying scenes for Roma, especially just days away from the Derby della Capitale, as Ljajic was stretchered off in agony following a knock to the knee.
Urby Emanuelson came on and within minutes ran a huge risk with a sliding tackle from behind on Panagiotis Kone in the box, but the referee waved away penalty appeals. It was too much for assistant manager Dejan Stankovic, who was sent off for dissent.
During five minutes of stoppages, Karnezis kept the scoreline down with a splendid one-handed save on Emanuelson after great work from Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi. It was open to the final whistle with Karnezis again decisive one-on-one with Florenzi, as Udinese poured forward and left themselves open to the counter.
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