Udinese down Lazio in fiery affair
Udinese moved into a four-team tie for third place in Serie A with just three games of the season remaining thanks to a 2-0 win over rivals Lazio at the Stadio Friuli.
Antonio Di Natale scored midway through the second half with a spectacular volley before Roberto Pereyra sealed the win in stoppage time to take Francesco Guidolin's side level on 55 points with Lazio, but leaving them above Eduardo Reja's side thanks to a superior head-to-head record. Lazio defender Andre Dias saw red as tempers flared at the end of the match with fights breaking out on and off the field.
The result leaves Inter Milan and Napoli also even on points with Udinese and Lazio as the race for Serie A's final place in the UEFA Champions League looks set to go down to the wire.
Udinese came closest to scoring in the early exchanges despite rarely getting inside the Lazio penalty area. Their chances came from outside the box with Giampiero Pinzi trying his luck with two speculative efforts.
The first, in the 18th minute, came from 40 yards and would have beaten Federico Marchetti had it been the right side of the right-hand upright. In the 27th minute, Pinzi tried another shot from ten yards closer to the goal, and this time he found the target, but also an alert Marchetti. Lazio's best chance of the first half came at its conclusion with Tommaso Rocchi's header saved well by Samir Handanovi.
Di Natale strikes
Di Natale sent a right-footed volley high into the Friulian sky in the 56th minute, but he, like Pinzi in the first half, was only getting the measure of the ball, as his goal in the 69th minute confirmed. Domizzi sent a pass into the penalty area from the left and Di Natale reached out at full stretch to guide the ball back across Marchetti on the volley and into the far corner.
Pereyra then sealed the win deep in stoppage time. Marchetti went forward for a corner, but as Udinese broke, he stopped playing when he heard a whistle from the crowd, believing it was the referee's. Pereyra carried on playing and curled his shot into the open goal from the right, prompting protests from the Lazio team and coaching staff.
Dias was given his marching orders as tempers spilled over with members of both benches also having a confrontation. It took the referee and his assistants over five minutes to restore calm and restart the game to enable him to blow the final whistle, with more protests and pushing following.