Udinese squeezed past Lecce with Michele Pazienza scoring on his comeback and close to within two points of second-placed Milan.
The Friulani lost to Juventus at the weekend, but were still flying high in third place. The Salentini had a huge confidence booster with Sunday’s surprise 1-0 victory over Inter, their first home win of the season, and Serse Cosmi returned to face his former club. Juan Cuadrado was suspended against the side that owns his contract, joining Manuele Blasi, Moris Carrozzieri, Andrea Esposito and Julio Sergio on the sidelines. Gennaro Delvecchio made his debut. Udinese missed Diego Fabbrini, Andrea Coda, Paulo Barreto, Giampiero Pinzi and the suspended Pablo Armero.
It took precisely 87 seconds for Udinese to take the lead and they did so with Michele Pazienza, who made his comeback after a six-month spell at Juventus. He was allowed a free header to nod in Antonio Di Natale’s free kick over the top, as the Lecce defence and goalkeeper left a lot to be desired.
It was almost 2-0 moments later with Antonio Floro Flores, but Lecce recovered and began to pour forward at the Stadio Friuli. It paid off, as the visitors equalised with a spectacular David Di Michele left-foot strike that dipped over Samir Handanovic into the far top corner.
Francesco Benassi did well to pluck a Di Natale turn and volley out of the air, while Muriel’s right-foot effort from the edge of the area skimmed the upright.
Udinese restored their advantage with Di Natale’s curling right-foot finish that swerved around the goalkeeper in at the far post from a Floro Flores assist. There were some complaints from Lecce that Floro Flores had won back the ball with a high foot.
Giovanni Pasquale did well to stop Muriel’s slalom, while Benassi flew to flap a Mauricio Isla right-foot shot out for a corner.
Benassi also needed a great flying save to palm the Gelson Fernandes curler out of the top corner.
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