Title-chasing Roma secure controversial victory at Udinese

Roma defender Davide Astori (2ndR) celebrates after scoring against Udinese. 

GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

Serie A title-chasers Roma edged Udinese 1-0 with a controversial goal at the Friuli stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

A header from Davide Astori in the 17th minute hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced down near the goal line.

The goal-line official ruled that the ball did not entirely cross the line but after protests from Roma the referee overruled him, sparking outrage from Udinese.

Replays were inconclusive.

Roma coach Rudi Garcia fielded a strong side for his team’s first game of 2015, with captain Francesco Totti playing alongside Juan Manuel Iturbe and Adem Ljajic.

The hosts dominated early possession but Roma went in front when Astori’s header from Totti’s cross hit the underside of the bar and bounced straight down and fell just on the other side of the goal-line.

Udinese reacted and Astori was forced to make a vital block from Antonio Di Natale’s goal-bound shot from 12 yards.

The visitors continued to press forward and almost drew level in the 27th minute. Di Natale got past two Roma defenders and fed Gabriel Silva at the far post but his close-range effort went wide.

Roma should have doubled their lead before half-time.

SERIE A RESULTS

However, Udinese goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis made a full-stretch save to clear Totti’s right-footed strike from the heart of the area that had taken a deflection off Danilo.

The visitors wasted a good chance early in the second half when Totti failed to find an unmarked Miralem Pjanic following a fast counter attack by the Giallorossi.

Roma tested Karnezis in the 64th minute but Maicon’s bullet strike from 25 yards was kept out by the Udinese keeper.

With 12 minutes remaining, Karnezis denied Roma a second goal when he made an instinctive save from Pjanic’s first-touch effort from Iturbe’s cross.

In the 82nd minute, Roma suffered a blow when Ljajic was stretchered off following a late challenge by substitute Giovanni Pasquale.

Udinese demanded a penalty with five minutes remaining – when Panagiotis Kone fell in the box following a clash with Urby Emanuelson – but the referee waved play on.

The hosts almost denied Roma all three points at the death when Danilo got behind Silvan Widmer’s pass but his right-footed shot from 10 yards was saved by Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis.

Associated Press copy was used in this report