The latest example of the Italian team’s fighting spirit saw it recover from two goals down to draw 2-2 against high-flying Atalanta in Serie A on Sunday.
Nehuén Pérez and Gerard Deulofeu canceled out goals from Ademola Lookman and Luis Muriel to allow Udinese to rescue a point and move level with defending champion AC Milan in the table, a point behind second-place Atalanta, and three points behind Napoli after the southern side beat lowly Cremonese 4-1.
Udinese had won its past six matches and four of those wins had come after Andrea Sottil’s side had first fallen behind.
The match was played at a high intensity but there were few real goalscoring chances before Atalanta broke the deadlock nine minutes before the break. Muriel ran onto a very long ball over the top from Teun Koopmeiners, cut inside from the left and rolled it across for Lookman to tap in at the back post.
Atalanta doubled its lead early in the second half after Muriel was tripped by Udinese defender Destiny Udogie. The jeers rained down from the stands but that didn’t distract Muriel, who slotted the penalty into the bottom left corner.
Muriel was at Udinese for five years before leaving for Sampdoria in 2015, although he spent almost half that time on loan.
Udinese pulled one back when Deulofeu curled in a free kick in the 67th minute and he also had a hand in the equalizer with a pass to the byline to Roberto Pereyra, who crossed for Pérez to head home.
Napoli imposed another thrashing and moved solo atop the standings with its eighth straight victory in all competitions.
The scoreline was perhaps harsh on Cremonese which had been on level terms after Cyriel Dessers scored shortly after the interval to cancel out Matteo Politano’s first-half penalty — won by Khvicha Kvaratskhelia — until Napoli substitute Giovanni Simeone’s 76th-minute header.
Stoppage-time goals from fellow substitutes Hirving Lozano and Mathías Olivera sealed the result.
Napoli, which won 6-1 at Ajax in the Champions League midweek, has scored 13 goals in its past three matches.
Roma moved to within a point of the top four but found it more difficult than it perhaps should have before prevailing 2-1 over Lecce, despite the visitors playing with 10 men for most of the match.
Lecce found itself a goal and a player down after 23 minutes when midfielder Morten Hjulmand was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Roma forward Andrea Belotti. Chris Smalling had headed Roma in front in the sixth minute.
Gabriel Strefezza leveled for Lecce shortly before halftime but Paulo Dybala scored what was to prove the winner from the penalty spot three minutes after the break.
However, immediately after converting the penalty, Dybala clutched his left thigh and limped off to be substituted. The Argentina forward appeared to have tears in his eyes as he sat on the bench.
HAT TRICK OF WINS
Monza made it a hat trick of victories with a 2-0 win over Spezia to propel it into midtable.
Silvio Berlusconi’s side lost five of its opening six matches before recording its first-ever Serie A victory with a surprise win over Juventus before the international break. It has also not conceded a goal in its past three matches.
Substitute Boulaye Dia scored in stoppage time to see Salernitana snatch a 2-1 win over Hellas Verona. There was a brawl shortly afterward and Salernitana captain Ivan Radovanovic was shown a red card while Verona defender Federico Ceccherini was also sent off from the bench.
Also, Torino drew 1-1 against Empoli.
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