Udinese vs. AC Milan: Final score 1-0, Di Natale downs Milan

Dino Panato

A second half goal from Udinese's Antonio Di Natale was enough to sink a weakened AC Milan at the Friuli.

AC Milan's struggles continued as they lost 1-0 away at Udinese on Saturday. Coach Clarence Seedorf chose to rest several rossoneri first teamers ahead of their Champions League clash away at Atlético Madrid in midweek, and the zebrette took advantage with a second-half winner from Antonio Di Natale.

The first half was just about the most frenetic 45 minutes of football in Serie A this season, with the players chaotically swarming around every loose ball. The result was a ridiculously high-tempo affair which made for entertaining viewing, but no doubt had the coaches tearing out what little hair they both have left.

Christian Abbiati's left hand kept out Udinese's best chance of the half inside the opening few minutes, after Roberto Pereyra slalomed his way into the Milan box before seeing his effort parried away by the veteran keeper. Milan responded with a trio of good opportunities for Giampaolo Pazzini, though a mix of poor finishing and good goalkeeping from Simone Scuffet kept them at bay.

The second picked up where the first had left off, with Milan starting brightly but again looking defensively vulnerable. Philippe Mexès almost gifted the hosts a calamitous opening goal on the hour, but after he lost the ball deep in his own half, Di Natale scuffed his shot wide of the target.

Before long the zebrette were in the ascendency, with their quick transitions contrasting with Milan's ponderous possession to leave the rossoneri rattled. Halfway through the second half, they had their reward, after some slick first-touch passing ended in Di Natale tapping Bruno Fernandes' pass into an empty goal.

Despite Milan cranking up the pressure late on, 17-year-old Scuffet -- who was born the year his teammate Di Natale started his professional career -- was unbeatable in the Udinese goal. His crucial saves helped his side edge ever closer to safety, while AC Milan optimistically hope for an upset away at the Calderón in midweek.

Udinese Scuffet; Bubnjić, Domizzi, Heurtaux; Silva, Fernandes, Allan, Pinzi (Badu 85'), Widmer; Pereyra (Basta 89'); Di Natale (Muriel 77').

Goals: Di Natale (67').

AC Milan: Abbiati; Emanuelson, Mexès, Zapata, De Sciglio; Muntari (Taarabt 71'), Montolivo; Robinho (Balotelli 63'), Birsa (Essien 57'), Honda; Pazzini.

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