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21 February 2024

Udinese down Cesena to go top


Udinese went back to the top of the Serie A table with a 4-1 win at home to 10-man Cesena on Sunday.

Captain Antonio Di Natale, with a brace, Kwadwo Asamoah and Dusan Basta scored the goals while Eder replied for the visitors, who had Maurizio Lauro sent off in the second half.

Udinese may only hold onto top spot for a couple of hours if either Juventus or AC Milan win later but Francesco Guidolin's men started 2012 in much the same way they played throughout the previous year.

For Cesena the defeat keeps them stuck in the relegation zone.

Udinese got off to a dream start with a most typical counter-attacking goal inside the first minute.

Antonio Floro Flores was released down the right and in a flash he squared for Di Natale to nip beyond the backline and slot home.

That seemed to shock Cesena and the hosts carved them apart at will on the counter in the early part of the game.

Di Natale crossed with the outside of his boot and although Maurizio Domizzi reached it before goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli, he headed wide.

On a rapier break Floro Flores peeled off wide left and then clipped in the ball for Di Natale, arriving at pace, but his header landed on the roof of the net.

However, around the half hour mark, the momentum started to swing dramatically in Cesena's favour.

Andrea Candreva tried his luck from distance but goalkeeper Samir Handanovic got down well to his right to push the ball away.

The goalkeeper then fluffed a clearance straight to Candreva who teed up Adrian Mutu but the Romanian shot too high.

Cesena were level on 39 minutes as Lauro's cross from the left floated onto the bar, causing havoc in the Udinese defence, with Luca Ceccarelli heading the rebound into the danger area where Eder was fastest to react to poke home.

Cesena should have gone in front when Lauro then picked out Mutu unmarked on the edge of the box but the former Juventus and Chelsea player's finish was unwatchable.

Udinese went back in front nine minutes into the second period and it was a goal that veteran Antonioli won't want to see again in a hurry.

Ghana international Asamoah, who will now head off to the Africa Cup of Nations, hit his shot from 20 yards with power and swerve but it essentially went straight at the 42-year-old who somehow managed to flop out of the way of the ball and allow it in.

It was a shocking error from a goalkeeper who won the scudetto with Roma 11 years ago.

Seven minutes later Lauro was dismissed for a second booking for tripping Pablo Armero in full flight and Cesena's task looked hopeless.

And 15 minutes from time Romanian full-back Basta sealed a comfortable victory with a stunning strike from distance that seemed to catch Antonioli by suprise as it dipped just inside the far post.

Late on Di Natale took a pass from Armero, turned smartly on the edge of the box and fired home into the top corner to add insult to injury.




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