Udinese came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Atalanta on Sunday in an exciting clash between Serie A’s two surprise packages.
Gerard Deulofeu’s beautiful free-kick in the 67th minute and a header from Nehuen Perez 11 minutes later gave Andrea Sottil’s side a draw which kept them a point from the Serie A summit.
“It’s a really big point for us, it’s important to collect points at home. After going two goals down it was a different match but we played well,” said Perez to DAZN.
Atalanta stayed top as they ended Udinese’s winning streak at six matches but Gian Piero Gasperini will be disappointed with the way his 300th match as coach of the Bergamo club ended.
His injury-hit team were comfortably ahead 11 minutes after half-time through an Ademola Lookman tap-in and Luis Muriel’s penalty, and the draw means Napoli can claim the outright league lead if they win at promoted Cremonese later on Sunday.
Sunday’s match at the Dacia Arena lived up to expectations, as two of Serie A model clubs went toe-to-toe in front of 25,000 fans at one of the league’s few modern, club-owned stadiums.
Udinese looked down and out once Muriel slammed home Atalanta’s second—his first of the season—from the spot as the away side had conceded just three times before this weekend.
However Sottil commands a team which is as determined as it is stylish and after Deulofeu swept in his first goal of the season the hosts laid siege to the Atalanta defence.
They were rewarded for their attacking approach when Perez headed in a pinpoint cross from Roberto Pereyra, who has set up five goals this season.
On another day Udinese could have even snatched all three points as Deulofeu skimmed the crossbar with another wonderfully struck free-kick, while Tolgay Arslan also shot just wide with seconds remaining.
Monza on the up –
Monza’s revival under Raffaele Palladino continued with their third straight win, a comfortable 2-0 success over Spezia which lifted them up to 12th on 10 points.
The club owned by Silvio Berlusconi were bottom and winless when Palladino took over as coach last month, but since beating Juventus they haven’t looked back.
Palladino’s side are only three points behind Juve and one behind Torino, who drew 1-1 with Empoli in Sunday’s early match.
“For me more than the goal it’s the win that’s as important. I think we played incredibly well, this is the way for us,” said Pablo Mari, scorer of Monza’s second.
Monza are level on points with 11th-placed Salernitana, who beat struggling Verona 2-1 thanks to a stoppage time strike from Boulaye Dia which sparked wild celebrations and an on-pitch brawl.
Rumours continue to swirl that France icon Franck Ribery is set to hang up his boots and take up a managerial role at Salernitana.
In a pre-match interview with DAZN, owner Danilo Iervolino refused to be drawn on whether Ribery was quitting imminently but confirmed that the 39-year-old was in talks to take up a role at the club once he does retire.
“We are talking. Franck is a great both on and off the pitch. He is very charismatic. He can attract talent and talk to young people. He gets the best out of everyone and is a leader,” said Iervolino.
“We will give him a role, whatever he wants, in the timeframe and way that he wants. He was a great champion and he will soon become a legend of football and we’re very proud to have him in Salerno.
“I see him alongside me in a managerial role but if he wants to do something more coaching related that also fine.”
Roma complete the day’s matches when they host Lecce at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
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