ITALIAN SERIE A

Armando Picchi, Italy

Referee: Christian Brighi | Attendance: 6000

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0 - 2

FT

Udinese

  • Alexis Sánchez 8'
  • Antonio Di Natale 35'

Livorno slip deeper

Livorno slipped closer towards the Serie A trapdoor as a home defeat to Udinese left them with a mountain to climb to avoid relegation this season.

Udinese's in-form strikers Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Di Natale scored the goals in the first half to lift the Friulians seven points clear of the bottom three with five games remaining.

The hosts had their former coach Gennaro Ruotolo back on the bench after he was reinstated this week when Serse Cosmi was sacked following last weekend's 1-1 draw at Genoa, but he was unable to halt their slide back towards Serie B.

They now find themselves nine points adrift of safety.

Livorno goalkeeper Rubinho saved his side from falling behind immediately with a good reaction save to push Di Natale's shot over the crossbar for a corner.

But the home side were unable to stay level for long as Udinese went ahead in the ninth minute.

Sanchez picked up a long ball, dribbled past Mirko Pieri and then slid his shot into the bottom corner past Rubinho.

Rubinho saved Livorno again in the 24th minute when Simone Pepe's shot was looping in after taking a deflection off Christian Raimondi, but the Brazilian somehow managed to recover and make the save.

It seemed only a matter of time before Udinese did double their advantage, though, and the second goal came in the 35th minute from the league's top goalscorer Di Natale with his 23rd of the campaign.

Pepe pulled the ball back into his path and he showed why very few clubs have been able to stop him this season with a finely-placed shot from 15 yards.

Referee Christian Brighi had to stop play for the first time of the afternoon as several flares landed on the pitch from some irate home fans.

Rubinho's second half lasted only a few minutes before he was carried off the field shaking, perhaps suffering from the dramatic drop in temperature overnight which had seen the Tuscan coastline plummet from 20 degrees to just five.

He was replaced by Alfonso De Lucia, who made a crucial save to deny Giovanni Pasquale from making it three in the 72nd minute.

The Livorno fans showed their anger and frustration at what now looks likely to be an immediate return back to Serie B as they hurled more flares down towards the pitch.

Brighi was forced to halt the play for the second time midway through the second half due to the smoke which was spreading across the field.

The game restarted shortly afterwards, but in front of a diminishing crowd as the home supporters' next protest was to leave the ground en masse - probably to await the players outside at the end of the match.

They did not miss much as their team failed to find a way back into the game and had to accept a defeat which left them with one foot in Serie B.