Udinese down Bologna to go top

02 October 2011 04:35

Udinese went top of Serie A after goals from Mehdi Benatia and an Antonio Di Natale penalty gave them a 2-0 victory over Bologna on Sunday.

The win took the northerners a point clear of Napoli, 3-0 winners at Inter Milan on Saturday, ahead of the night's crunch clash between Juventus, who would go back to the top with a two-goal victory, and champions AC Milan.

Despite selling stars Alexis Sanchez (to Barcelona) and Gokhan Inler (to Napoli) in the summer, Udinese proved they have lost none of the verve that took them to a fourth-placed finish last season and qualification for the Champions League play-offs, where they were beaten by Arsenal.

Morocco centre-back Benatia gave them the lead on 29 minutes when Pablo Armero's corner was headed goalwards by Damiano Ferronetti only to hit Benatia, who nonetheless was quick to swivel and shoot home.

Captain Di Natale was inches away from doubling the lead when his shot hit the post, the ball rebounding to Dusan Basta who slotted home but was signalled offside.

Di Natale then inexplicably wasted a glorious opportunity when he danced around goalkeeper Federico Agliardi but prodded the ball into the side-netting with his right foot when he should have used his left instead.

Bologna came close when Alessandro Diamanti curled a free-kick goalwards but Samir Handanovic plunged to his left to beat it away at his near post.

Diego Perez then committed a terrible foul from behind on Armero to give away a penalty, though the incident was possibly just outside area.

Di Natale made no mistake from the spot on 72 minutes.

Cagliari and Palermo moved into the top four after 2-0 victories at Lecce and at home to Siena respectively.

Ribeiro diverted the ball home to give the Sardinians the lead at Lecce before Davide Biondini pounced on a defensive error to double the advantage before half-time.

Giulio Migliaccio benefitted from some awful defending in Sicily when he was left to jump unopposed on the penalty spot to head Fabrizio Miccoli's free-kick into an open goal, with goalkeeper Zeljko Brkik nowhere to be seen.

Palermo had to hold on with 10 men for the last 20 minutes after Italy left-back Federico Balzaretti was sent off for a second booking.

But Abel Hernandez buried a generously-awarded penalty deep into injury time to seal the points.

Cesena earnt their first point of the season and moved off the bottom of the table on goal difference, to be replaced by Bologna, with a 0-0 draw at home to Chievo.

It could have been better but for Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino saving Adrian Mutu's second half penalty.

The game of the day came in Novara where the hosts were held to a 3-3 draw by Catania, for whom Alejandro Gomez scored an injury-time equaliser.

The result leaves newly-promoted Novara with the best attack in the league.

On Saturday Napoli moved to the top of the table after a stunning win at 10-man Inter Milan.

Inter had Nigeria midfielder Joel Obi controversially sent-off in giving away a penalty at the end of the first half.

Television replays showed his foul was outside the box.

He was booked for bringing down Christian Maggio and received a second yellow card but TV replays also showed that his first was unjustified as he had clearly won the ball in a challenge with Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar saved Marek Hamsik's penalty but Hugo Campagnaro scored on the follow-up.

Maggio and Hamsik then added further goals against the 10 men in the second half.

Source: AFP