Cyril Thereau wiped out a Simone Zaza header and Sassuolo hit the woodwork in their 1-1 draw with Udinese.
The hosts aimed to build on Tuesday’s surprise victory over Milan at San Siro, but the Friulani missed numerous players, including hitman Antonio Di Natale after coming down with flu. Also sidelined were Giovanni Pasquale, Giampiero Pinzi, Emmanuel Badu, Wague and Lucas Evangelista. Sassuolo missed Gianluca Pegolo, Thomas Manfredini, Federico Peluso and Saphir Taider, while Nicola Sansone wasn’t fit to start.
Simone Zaza scored the winner at Milan and broke the deadlock here with a towering header on Sime Vrsaljko’s splendid cross from the right. Orestis Karnezis got a hand to it, but the finish was too powerful and too close to keep out.
There was another heavy blow for Udinese, as moments later Alexander Geijo pulled up with a suspected hamstring strain and hobbled off the field. With no other strikers available, they had to introduce Bruno Fernandes.
Paolo Cannavaro’s header and a Vrsaljko strike were over the bar, but Udinese equalised with their first real opportunity. Cyril Thereau gathered an Allan through ball, spun quickly and placed a daisy-cutter across Andrea Consigli.
Karnezis got down for a crucial save on Alessandro Longhi’s snapshot and from that corner Zaza nodded inches wide.
After the restart Consigli performed a one-handed save on Thereau at the near post, but Sassuolo were furious when Berardi dribbled past Ivan Piris only to fall after a small shove from Maurizio Domizzi. The referee waved away penalty appeals and protests from both sides, as Berardi was already on a yellow card for simulation.
Soon after Piris sprinted back for a decisive block when Berardi pulled the trigger from 10 yards, then Zaza volleyed wide on a Vrsaljko assist.
Zaza should’ve scored on 71 minutes when he ran on to a through ball, but hesitated and allowed Domizzi to get a crucial touch.
At the other end moments later Bruno Fernandes side-footed wide from seven yards in a bad miss on Silvan Widmer’s pull-back.
Consigli flew to beat away a Bruno Fernandes screamer, but Sassuolo again went very close with Berardi’s deflected volley hitting the upright after a Sergio Floccari finish was scuffed.
The final stages were a siege on the Udinese goal and Thomas Heurtaux charged down a Floro Flores strike.
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