Udinese vs. Atalanta, Final Score 2-1: Zebrette take another step towards Europe

Gabriele Maltinti

Udinese eventually prevailed 2-1 over Atalanta despite going a goal down, Antionio Di Natale scoring a brace but worryingly for the Zebrette, going off injured towards the end of the match.

After playing in midweek, Francesco Guidolin saw fit to make three changes to his Udinese side with Danilo, Maurizio Domizzi and Giampiero Pinzi coming in in place of Thomas Heurtaux, Gabrielle Angella and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu. With their Serie A status secured, Stefano Colantuono could afford to experiment with his Atalanta team and made seven changes from the team that lost 1-0 to champions Juventus in midweek. In came Gianpaolo Bellini, Stefano Lucchini, Luigi Giorgi, Ivan Radovanovic, Maxi Moralez, Facundo Parra and Giuseppe De Luca, out went Lionel Scaloni, Guglielmo Stendardo, Cristian Raimondi, Davide Biondini, Luca Cigarini, Giacomo Bonaventura and German Denis.

Although Udinese put on some early pressure, with Antonio Di Natale striking the crossbar with a fearsome free kick, it was Atalanta who looked the better side consistently throughout the first half, playing calm passing football and pushing Udinese back into their own half.

In the 10th minute, the visitors had a deserved lead. Facundo Parra's low drive was parried straight into the path of Giuseppe De Luca by Zeljko Brkic, the Serbian goalkeeper saving De Luca's first attempt but was powerless to prevent the second shot from the striker.

Maxi Moralez then went close to doubling the advantage, his shot whistling just wide of Brkic's left hand post after good work from the Argentine winger to make space for the shot in the box.

Atalanta threatened again, Luigi Giorgi exchanging passes with De Luca to break into the box, his initial effort blocked by Maurizio Domizzi and the second attempt shanked well over by Parra when in a good position.

Udinese gradually began to claw their way back into the match and they were level just before half time. Allan played a cute ball into the box to Antonio Di Natale and the Udinese captain added a marvellous finish with the outside of his boot to guide the ball past the on-rushing Andrea Consigli and in off the far post.

Just seven minutes into the second half, and Di Natale was at it again, scoring his 22nd goal of the season after an attempted Atalanta clearance bounced into his path off Giampiero Pinzi, leaving Di Natale to finish past Consigli to put the Zebrette in front.

Thereafter, Udinese did a great job of killing the match off and really constricted Atalanta by keeping the ball fairly readily in the midfield. In the final 10 minutes, Atalanta did have a couple of opportunities, Parra volleying straight at Brkic and a penalty box scramble eventually cleared by the Udinese defence.

Two minutes from the end of normal time, Udinese received a hammer blow when Antonio Di Natale appeared to land awkwardly after jumping for a header and he was stretchered off the pitch in visible pain, not good for Udinese's European ambitions going into the final match of the season.

Udinese: Brkic; Benatia, Danilo, Domizzi; Basta (Agyemang Badu 56), Pinzi, Allan, Gabriel Silva; Pereyra; Muriel (Zielinski 61), Di Natale (Ranegie 89)

Atalanta: Consigli; Bellini, Lucchini, Canini, Del Grosso; Giorgi (Troisi 53), Radavanovic (Palma 71), Carmona, Moralez (Bonaventura 56); De Luca, Parra

Goals: De Luca 10 (A), Di Natale 42, 52 (U)

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