Udinese return to Italian summit
Udinese moved back to the top of Serie A tonight thanks to a solid win over Roma. Both goals came late with Antonio Di Natale on target 10 minutes from time and Mauricio Isla sealing the win in the 89th minute.
It was a just reward for the home side's superior belief on a frosty night in Udine. Neither side was able to make much of an impression in the first half with Udinese enjoying most of the possession, but failing to find a way through.
They lacked creativity while Roma appeared to lack motivation as they just sat back and invited their hosts forward. The one time the home side did find a way through ended in confusion as Di Natale took a swipe at the ball while Pablo Armero would have been better placed to shoot with his left foot at the far post.
Roma were transformed at the start of the second half, though, and it was Udinese's turn to defend. Daniele De Rossi tested Samir Handanovic for the first time in the 46th minute with the Slovenian goalkeeper scrambling across his goal to push the ball wide.
From the resulting corner, Juan's header was deflected behind for another corner, from which Juan again met the ball only to see his header finish just wide. Erik Lamela missed a good chance in the 50th minute when he just seemed to lack belief as he cut into the penalty area and his shot was blocked.
Roma's good spell lasted all of five minutes, though, and Udinese soon took charge of the game again. Yet they had to wait until the 80th minute before opening the scoring with Di Natale racing clear to rifle his shot into the top right-hand corner as Simon Kjaer pulled up holding his hamstring as he failed to keep up with the Udinese striker.
Isla then made sure of the win in the 89th minute with a simple tap-in after a burst of pace took Armero away from Rodrigo Taddei and into the penalty area. Juan was caught napping in the centre as he played Isla onside, leaving him alone in front of a gaping goal.
"We produced a great game against a side that are going far. They were very good in the first half, while we defended well and counter attacked," Di Natale told Sky Sport. "We don't look at the standings...what counts is that Udinese win, I'm an attacker, I'm there to provide service to the team."