Italy forward Antonio Di Natale scored twice to help Udinese beat 10-man Inter Milan 3-0 Sunday and damage the Nerazzurri’s waning chances of catching Serie A leader Juventus, as the Italian league got back to full gear after the holiday break.
Di Natale put Udinese ahead in the 63rd minute at Udinese’s Stadio Friuli by finishing off a swift counterattack as Inter’s defense struggled to keep up.
Two minutes later, Inter defender Juan picked up his second yellow card, and Colombia forward Luis Muriel doubled the lead in the 75th with a similar score.
Di Natale added another in the 79th from the center of the area – his 12th of the season – as defenders Walter Samuel and Esteban Cambiasso again couldn’t intervene.
Inter remained nine points behind Juventus, which faces Sampdoria later. Fiorentina, which is tied with Inter for third, plays Pescara later.
Also later, AC Milan hosts Siena, while Roma visits Napoli in the late match.
On Saturday, second-place Lazio beat Cagliari 2-1 to move within five points of Juve.
In Udine, the referee made a key decision in the 25th by showing Inter striker Rodrigo Palacio a yellow card for diving inside the area, while Inter argued for a penalty and a last-man foul on defender Maurizio Domizzi, which would have left Udinese with 10 men.
Di Natale hit the crossbar with a blistering 40-meter (yard) free kick in the 27th, and Inter defender Jonathan wasted a great chance created by Antonio Cassano when he hit the post in the 50th.
Palacio also had a couple chances before Di Natale’s opening goal.
Inter remained winless on the road since beating Juventus on Nov. 3, while Udinese has lost only once at home this season.