Late drama seals Udinese win
Udinese struck twice in the final few minutes to nudge past Atletico Madrid and go three points clear at the top of Group I.
Last Updated: 20/10/11 9:03pm
Udinese struck twice in the final few minutes to nudge past Atletico Madrid and go three points clear at the top of Europa League Group I.
Mehdi Benatia broke the deadlock with just two minutes remaining before Antonio Floro Flores sealed the Italian outfit's second group stage win in stoppage-time and moved them clear of their Spanish rivals.
Udinese threatened within a minute of kick-off, Floro Flores directing his header from Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu's free-kick just over the crossbar.
Atletico had to wait 13 minutes for their first chance, which was smashed wide of the right post by Joao Miranda.
But the Spanish visitors grew in confidence after that and Assuncao stung the palms of Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic with his shot, while club record signing Radamel Falcao fired the ball over the bar from 18 yards.
Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made his first save after 25 minutes, punching away a free-kick from Almen Abdi.
But it was the visitors who continued to dominate, and Handanovic pulled off two more good saves to deny Gabi and Luis Pizzi, who also drove another effort over the bar from the edge of the area as half-time approached.
Atletico also looked the better team after the interval but their final touch continued to desert them, with Diego Godin wasting a helpful inswinging corner from Diego Costa by turning a strike over the bar.
Chances had so far proved few and far between for Udinese, but they came close to taking the lead after 56 minutes with a header from Benatia which had to be tipped around the post by Courtois.
And Diego Fabbrini created another opportunity for the hosts 12 minutes later, but succeeded only in pushing his shot wide.
Falcao responded for Atletico with a header over the crossbar, but the opening goal remained elusive for both teams with 10 minutes to play as Floro Flores also headed high of the target.
Just when a draw seemed the likely outcome, though, Udinese went in front with two minutes remaining. Fabbrini's assist picked out Benatia, who tucked the ball into the bottom right corner from 12 yards.
A second goal then followed deep into stoppage-time, with Floro Flores sweeping home from 18 yards after Agyemang-Badu's pass.