Serie A - Udinese punish ten-man Cesena
Udinese returned to the top of the Serie A table for a couple of hours with a 4-1 home victory over struggling Cesena.
Antonio Di Natale continued his fantastic goalscoring record at the Stadio Fruili with a pair of goals scored with his first and last touches, breaking the deadlock inside the first minute.
The result was clinched by Dusan Basta’s superlative dipping drive 15 minutes from time and Di Natale’s second seven minutes later, both coming after Maurizio Lauro had been sent off for collecting his second yellow card shortly after the hour mark.
Udinese went top with the win but were sent back down to third following victories for AC Milan and Juventus later in the day.
It was billed as the battle of Serie A’s lowest scorers heading to the home of the league’s tightest defence, and Udinese wasted no time underscoring the difficulty of the task facing Daniele Arrigoni’s side.
Indeed, with less than a minute on the clock the hosts broke through the Cesena offside trap and Antonio Floro Flores squared for the comfortable tap-in by Di Natale.
Maurizio Domizzi almost doubled the advantage after seven minutes, heading narrowly wide from a cross from the right following a corner taken short in an effort which had some fans momentarily convinced it had gone in.
The strike partnership almost replicated their very early goal with 13 minutes played, Di Natale heading Flores’s beautiful chipped diagonal assist to meet the captain’s lung-busting run narrowly over.
Cesena finally began to settle into the contest halfway through the first period and had chances through Roberto Guana and Antonio Candreva, who is on loan from the Zebrette, kept out by solid defending.
But against all odds the visitors levelled the scores with seven minutes remaining before the interval, after Maurizio Lauro’s cross-cum-shot came back off the bar and was headed by Luca Ceccarelli into the path of Eder’s unstoppable volley.
Birthday boy Adrian Mutu really should have competed a crazy turnaround two minutes later only to hash a 10-yard shot with the goal at his mercy high and wide as Udinese suddenly found themselves at sixes and sevens.
They regrouped during the break, and Floro Flores had opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the half before a less prolific team-mate put the high-fliers back in the lead.
Asamoah’s speculative shot from outside the area received an unlikely assist from goalkeeper Francesco Antonoli who somehow managed to let the ball slip under his arm and over the line, but that will not matter to the hard-working midfielder who seldom scores.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors, who by this stage were still in with a shout, on 61 minutes when Lauro brought Pablo Armero crashing down amidst the home side’s counter from Cesena’s first corner of the game.
Already booked, the left-back was shown the red card after his second yellow and the gig was up for the relegation battlers from there.
That said, nobody could stop Basta’s amazing effort from 25 yards with a quarter hour remaining which flew high before dipping perfectly to nestle into the far bottom corner.
And not even Di Natale’s team-mates could stop him doubling his personal tally in the contest as the skipper ignored several passing options to take on the back-line and hammer home an impressive fourth for Udinese.