Udinese hopes falter at Chievo
Udinese missed the chance to pile the pressure on third-placed Lazio this afternoon as they were held to a frustrating draw by Chievo. With the Roman club not in action until tomorrow, a win would have put the Bianconeri up into the automatic UEFA Champions League places overnight.
They were unable to deliver, though, and would not even have taken a point had Cyril Thereau not missed a first-half penalty for the home side. It was an emotional evening for Udinese, taking to the field for the first time since the death of Piermario Morosini - their midfielder who had been out on loan at Livorno.
On the other side, marooned in mid-table, the stakes were lower for Chievo but they did not play as though they were, impressing from the off and dominating the best of the early chances. Dario Dainelli set the tone with a third-minute effort that skipped wide, before Rinaldo Cruzado had the same result minutes later.
Dainelli should then have done better when he got on the end of a Michael Bradley cross, heading wide when he could have been expected to hit the target. Udinese stepped things up after that and Paulo Barreto hit wide, while Pablo Armero and Alberto Paloschi both took aim with no success.
Bradley drew the first save with 37 minutes gone, working Samir Handanovic from the edge of the box, while the impressive Cruzado also warmed the goalkeeper's palms. The stopper then gave away the penalty, hauling down Thereau three minutes before the half-time whistle, but dusted himself down to save the same player's spot-kick low to his right.
Not disheartened, Chievo continued to probe and Sequeira Luciano's right-footed hit fizzed past the post, while Cruzado produced a replica effort just after the break. Paloschi was the next to try his luck, before Udinese bore their teeth again, with Antonio Di Natale bringing the best out of Stefano Sorrentino.
The Italy striker was on a one-man mission to rally his side and quickly produced two more strikes on goal, the second of which worked the keeper again, before Chievo returned to dominance with Boukari Drame, Paolo Sammarco and Francesco Grandolfo all finding room to register shots on goal. None of them were good enough, though, and the game petered out into a draw.