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Empoli vs Udinese. Italian Serie A.

Carlo CastellaniAttendance7,381.

Empoli 1

  • R Saponara (37th minute pen)

Udinese 2

  • A Di Natale (19th minute)
  • S Widmer (60th minute)
  • P Kone (sent off 74th minute)

Italian Serie A: Udinese back in the groove with 2-1 victory at Empoli

Monday 26 January 2015 22:53, UK

Antonio Di Natale of Udinese
Image: Antonio Di Natale: Scored the opening goal for Udinese

Udinese picked up their first win in six attempts to climb above the two Milanese teams into eighth place in Serie A, despite ending Monday night's 2-1 win over Empoli with 10 men.

Antonio Di Natale put Andrea Stramaccioni's men in front after 19 minutes, but Riccardo Saponara levelled from the spot with his first goal of the season for Empoli.

Silvan Widmer earned Udinese the points with what appeared to be a cross before Panagiotis Kone was given his marching orders, but the guests held on to all three points.

Next up for Udinese are Juventus, Napoli and Lazio while Empoli, who remain just a point above the relegation zone, travel to Roma as their search for a first win since November continues.

Empoli may have only lost on of their last nine fixtures, but with six of those games ending in a draw, they remain in relegation danger at the midway stage of the season.

Maurizio Sarri's men have won plenty of fans for their style of football too this season, and the arrival of Saponara from AC Milan has added another creative outlet to their team, which they appeared keen to showcase at the Stadio Castellani.

However, it was Udinese who took the lead against the run of play in the 19th minute when former Empoli player Di Natale freed himself from his marker to head in Allan's deep cross.

The 37-year-old, who made his professional debut with the Tuscan club back in 1996 and spent five more years with them before moving to Udine in 2004, did not celebrate his ninth goal of the season.

Empoli were gifted a generous route back into the game when Danilo was adjudged to have handled Manuel Pucciarelli's cross as he dipped his shoulder to block the ball.

After Udinese's protests had died down enough to allow the spot-kick to be taken, Saponara sent Orestis Karnezis the wrong way to bring the hosts level.

Pucciarelli was then denied by Karnezis with Thomas Heurtaux clearing the danger as Empoli tried to end the half in front.

The hosts made the better start to the second 45 minutes too, but just like in the first half they were caught out by Udinese's first real attack.

Widmer's intended cross looped over Luigi Sepe and went into the back of the net off the inside of the far post.

Empoli tried to respond and a second yellow card for Kone with 15 minutes remaining gave them hope, but despite spending the rest of the game on the attack, they could not find a way through as a first win since 23 November remained elusive.