Di Natale fires ten-man Udinese forward
Antonio Di Natale struck twice in the first half to fire ten-man Udinese to a 2-1 victory over Lazio and lift the Bianconeri over the Roman club and into fourth place this afternoon.
The Italian international opened the scoring in the 35th minute before adding his second shortly before half-time. Lazio striker Mauro Zarate had his 67th minute penalty kick saved by Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. Gabriele Angella, who brought down substitute Tommaso Rocchi inside the area for Lazio's penalty, was shown a straight red in that episode.
Lazio substitute Libor Kozak reduced the deficit in the 76th minute and was denied his second shortly after when his powerful header hit the post.
The result has allowed the Friuli club to go two points clear of Lazio and Roma with two rounds of games remaining. Udinese travel to Verona to face Chievo next weekend before hosting Serie A champions AC Milan on 22 May.
Lazio went into the game looking to bounce back from their 1-0 loss to Juventus in the last round, but it was the hosts that enjoyed the first chance. In the seventh minute, Di Natale tested Fernando Muslera when his ten-yard effort was kept out by the Lazio goalkeeper.
Lazio struggled against Udinese's well-placed defence, but did have an opportunity to score midway through the first half. Giuseppe Biava headed towards goal from Mauro Zarate's cross, however, Handanovic was equal to the task. The hosts took the lead soon after though.
Alexis Sanchez fed Di Natale inside the area and he struck towards the top right corner for his team's opener. Lazio had little time to react as Udinese doubled their lead in the 42nd minute. Di Natale got behind Mauricio Isla's cross and he made no mistake from close range.
Lazio played with a greater sense of urgency after the restart and had an opportunity to reduce the deficit in the 65th minute when Hernanes got his head to Stephan Lichtsteiner's cross, but the ball went just wide of the far post.
The Roman club should have made it 2-1 with 23 minutes remaining, but Zarate's spot-kick towards the centre of goal was kept out by Handanovic. Lazio recovered though and Kozak got behind Zarate's cross to tap the ball into the back of the net. Udinese were made to sweat in the last stages of the game, but defended deeply and held on for a vital win.