Udinese’s hopes of securing Champions League football suffered a further setback this afternoon as they lost 1-0 at Siena.
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Mattia Destro netted the game’s only goal 20 minutes from time to lift the Tuscan team eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Udinese, looking to repeat last season’s fourth-place finish in Serie A, entered this game on the back foot after a 1-0 defeat at Novara and draws against Napoli and Palermo.
They could have opened the scoring after just two minutes, though, had Diego Fabbrini been more accurate with his header from Pablo Armero’s cross.
Destro showed from the early stages that he had his shooting boots on and fired narrowly over the bar four minutes later.
Antonio Di Natale lashed wide from distance for Udinese in the 10th minute and Destro lined up another blast which flew wide soon after.
Alessandro Gazzi went close to giving the hosts the lead in the 25th minute when he met Marcelo Larrondo’s cross, but he directed his header just over the bar.
The visitors were being restricted to long-range efforts, Giampiero Pinzi and Di Natale both trying their luck from outside the box but neither testing Gianluca Pegolo.
Maurizio Domizzi had a sight of the Siena goal after the restart but his header drifted wide, while Andrea Coda’s right-footed shot soon after did not trouble Pegolo either.
Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was called upon to make the first real save of the match midway through the second half, preventing Destro’s left-footed effort from finding the bottom-right corner.
However, Destro was not to be denied on his next attempt moments later, slotting a low right-footed shot into the net from close range following a Gazzi cross.
Pegolo made a couple of crucial late saves to preserve his side’s lead in the closing stages, his left foot keeping out Di Natale’s close-range shot after a goalmouth scramble in the 73rd minute and then denying the same player when he found himself through one on one with the keeper.
Siena could have made it 2-0 a minute from the end when Franco Brienza found himself alone in front of Handanovic, but the Udinese keeper made the save and then Simone Vergassola missed from the rebound.