Udinese survived a scare, thanking Francesco Antonioli’s howler and an Antonio Di Natale brace in today’s 4-1 victory over 10-man Cesena.
The Friulani were only two points adrift of the joint Serie A leaders going into this game and gave Antonio Floro Flores his last chance to impress after he tried to force a transfer. Mehdi Benatia returned from his ban to restore the defence. Cesena had Abdel Ghezzal suspended, while Dominique Malonga, Raphael Martinho and Jorge Martinez missed out. Antonio Candreva started against the club that still owns his contract and Adrian Mutu celebrated his birthday.
It could not have been a better start for Udinese, as within 48 seconds they had broken the deadlock! Floro Flores sprung the offside trap on a through ball and rolled across for Antonio Di Natale to tap in from six yards. It was Toto’s 26th goal in his last 27 home games.
Maurizio Domizzi should’ve doubled their lead on seven minutes, but nodded inches wide of the near post from a corner.
Floro Flores chipped the pass for Di Natale’s looping header just over the bar, as it was one-way traffic at the Stadio Friuli. Di Natale also had a goal disallowed for offside.
Cesena finally created a chance of their own, but Roberto Guana’s shot was charged down in the box by Danilo, but it was a brief respite, as Mauricio Isla’s deflected angled drive skimmed the upright.
A terrible Samir Handanovic clearance risked gifting Cesena an equaliser, but they hesitated and Candreva failed to take advantage, Mutu then firing over.
Cesena did draw level with a chaotic move, as an over-hit cross from Lauro came off the crossbar and the wayward Luca Ceccarelli diving header turned into an assist for Eder to volley home from close range. It was his first goal for the Cavallucci Marini and maybe his last, as he is expected to leave next week.
In fact, the visitors should have gone 2-1 up moments later, but birthday boy Mutu ballooned off target when totally unmarked.
Udinese really needed half-time to come and were a different side after the break, but were handed the equaliser by a Francesco Antonioli howler. Kwadwo Asamoah hit a fairly routine snapshot from outside the box and it squirmed under the 42-year-old goalkeeper’s body for a rather embarrassing goal.
It got worse for Cesena, as Pablo Armero broke from their own corner and was tripped by Lauro for an undeniable second yellow card. They also lost Ceccarelli to a nasty cut suffered in an accidental collision with teammate Guana.
Isla was correctly flagged in a very tight offside position as he crossed for Floro Flores to tap into an empty net, so it did not count.
Udinese did go 3-1 up when Dusan Basta unleashed a viciously dipping rocket from distance that flew into the far top corner.
Di Natale further extended the advantage with his second of the game, turning for a sweeping right foot finish across Antonioli.
It was almost 5-1 in stoppages, as Antonioli fingertipped a free kick over the bar.
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Sent off: Lauro 61 (C)