Udinese beat Palermo to close in on Juventus

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Udinese maintained their chase of Italian Serie A leaders Juventus with a 1-0 victory against Palermo on Sunday.

Captain and talisman Antonio Di Natale made an heroic return from injury by notching the only goal of the game.

Udinese could have won more comfortably but in particular wasted a rash of late chances to kill the game on the counter attack.

They now trail Juventus by just one point. Udinese first opened up Palermo when Giampiero Pinzi got into the box but with only goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas to beat he opted to try to pick out Di Natale instead but fluffed his pass.

Di Natale hit the bar with an acrobatic volley from the edge of the box but was called for offside.

Mauricio Isla picked out Kwadwo Asamoah from the right but the Ghana midfielder’s shot was well saved by Tzorvas.

The goal came on 38 minutes when Dusan Basta picked out Di Natale, who was right on the limit of offside but scored with a volley as he fell sideways.

Udinese could have scored again when Di Natale was free in the box but Pablo Armero’s pass made the striker check his run, his first touch was poor and then his inventive chip flew wide.

Udinese played cleverly on the counter after the break and Di Natale’s volley from Isla’s cross went just past the upright.

Armero then picked out Di Natale, who shot into the side-netting before returning the favour only for the Colombian wing-back to crash his effort off the post.

Palermo’s best chance fell to Israeli forward Eran Zehavi but his finish was weak and Samir Handanovic saved easily.

Almen Abdi was the chief culprit for Udinese late on, blazing high when one-on-one with Tzorvas and then firing into the side-netting having rounded the keeper.

In other games Andrea Lazzari earned his Fiorentina coach Sinisa Mihjlovic some respite by scoring the only goal in the 1-0 defeat of Genoa.

Bologna put daylight between themselves and the drop zone by beating Atalanta 3-1 while Lecce and Novara stayed in bottom three after sharing the points in a 1-1 draw.

Cesena remain rock bottom after losing 2-0 at Parma while Siena thumped Chievo 4-1.

On Saturday, Juventus maintained their lead at the top with an impressive 2-1 win at arch rivals Inter Milan.

Goals from Mirko Vucinic and Claudio Marchisio either side of one from Maicon ensured the Old Lady of Turin remained unbeaten.

AC Milan moved up to third, ahead of Lazio’s trip to Cagliari, with a 3-2 win at Roma.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a brace and Alessandro Nesta added the third while Nicolas Burdisso and Bojan Krkic scored for the hosts.

Napoli missed the chance to keep pace with the front-runners as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at Catania.

They opened the scoring after just 29 seconds through Edinson Cavani but had Mario Santana sent off before half-time.

Goals either side of the break from Giovanni Marchese and Gonzalo Bergessio gave the Sicilians victory.

Italian Serie A results:

Bologna 3 Atalanta 1
Cagliari 0 Lazio 3
Fiorentina 1 Genoa 0
Lecce 1 Novara 1
Parma 2 Cesena 0
Udinese 1 Palermo 0
Siena 4 Chievo 1

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