SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 20 - 26 Jan 2015 (18.00 UK)
1 - 2 Udinese
Di Natale 19 (U), Saponara pen 37 (E), Widmer 60 (U)
Stadio Carlo Castellani

Riccardo Saponara scored for Empoli, but 10-man Udinese emerged 2-1 winners thanks to Antonio Di Natale and a bizarre Silvan Widmer goal.

This means Andrea Stramaccioni's men have moved above giants Inter and Milan in the table to joint eighth place.

The Tuscans received more compliments than points this season, including in a 0-0 draw with Inter and midweek rage at their controversial Coppa Italia exit to Roma in extra time. Udinese also lost in the Coppa on a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw at Napoli when down to 10 men. Riccardo Saponara started after his arrival on loan from Milan, while the Friulani had Antonio Di Natale returning to face his old club.

Saponara at full stretch scuffed a volley at the near post, but it was Empoli old boy Di Natale who broke the deadlock. He was in the right place to nod in an Allan cross and refused to celebrate out of respect to the club that launched his Serie A career.

Danilo flung himself in the path of Saponara’s shot to deflect over, while the ex-Milan man volleyed off target from an excellent scoring position. As so often this season, Empoli dominated possession and impressed without being able to turn that pressure into goals.

Empoli were awarded a penalty when Danilo leaned into a cross, charging it down with the very top of his arm and argued it was in fact his shoulder. Nonetheless, Saponara stepped up and sent Orestis Karnezis the wrong way to score his first Serie A goal for the club, having helped them to promotion last year.

It could’ve been 2-0 with Manuel Pucciarelli, but his strike was beaten away at the near post by Karnezis. Lorenzo Tonelli was forced off by a hip injury, making way for Under-21 international Federico Barba.

Empoli again came out aggressively for the restart, but Daniele Rugani got the ball caught under his feet on a corner and eventually Karnezis was able to clear. Pucciarelli should’ve done better, but nodded over the bar from six yards.

Once again, Udinese scored a goal out of nowhere and in this case probably by accident too. Silvan Widmer curled a cross from the right, but Luigi Sepe completely misjudged the flight of the ball and it ricocheted in off the inside of the far post. Widmer seemed as stunned as the goalkeeper.

Massimo Maccarone came off the bench and immediately had a shot charged down in the box by Danilo. Udinese went down to 10 men when Kone led with his arm on Mirko Valdifiori’s jaw and received a second yellow card.

The visitors wanted a penalty, but Danilo headed the ball on to Rugani’s arm from point-blank range. It was a risky move, as the defender did jump with his arm raised. In stoppages Simone Verdi nodded on to the roof of the net.

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: Sepe; Hysaj, Rugani, Tonelli (Barba 44), Mario Rui; Vecino, Valdifiori, Croce; Saponara (Verdi 67); Mchedlidze (Maccarone 63), Pucciarelli
Udinese: Karnezis; Piris, Danilo, Heurtaux; Widmer, Allan, Guilherme (Hallberg 67), Kone, Pasquale; Thereau; Di Natale (Bruno Fernandes 67)
Ref: Ghersini

Sent off: Kone 74 (U)