Date: 31st August 2014 at 11:21pm
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Udinese defeated Empoli 2-0 at the Stadio Friuli in the club’s opening match of the 2014/15 Serie A season.

Antonio Di Natale welcomed his former club with two goals, both goals in the second half, and Empoli were unable to level the score.

Udinese opened the match in an energetic attack, with Luis Muriel finding himself one-on-one with Luigi Sepe in the opening minute, but the Empoli keeper’s sliding save forced the attacker wide and out of bounds.

The home side continued a direct approach to the attack, playing long balls over the Empoli midfield.  They almost found the mark when Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu put Guilherme through on goal with a one-touch chip over the defence.  Only a last ditch Sepe save kept the score sheet clean.

Minutes later Muriel again almost found the net, this time with a drive from 25 metres after beating Mirko Valdifiori.

With their numbers pouring forward, Udinese were vulnerable to the counterattack, and Empoli threatened with well-place crosses by Levan Mchedlidze, Elseid Hysaj, and Simone Verdi.  Their efforts yielded only corner kicks, however, all of which were well defended by Udinese.

Tavano and Mattias Vecino also finished counterattacks, and had Orestis Karnezis beaten, but opted for power over control, and missed the target. Empoli had the best chance of the half when Vecino whipped a cross from the right, but Tavano was unable to keep his header on target.

The half closed with a Di Natale goal being ruled offside after the striker had wandered a few feet behind the line when Badu released the through pass.

Udinese returned refreshed from the break, establishing themselves in the Empoli half and unsuccessfully threatening with shots by Giovanni Pasquale and Allan, and a diving Badu header.

The deadlock was finally broken on 56 minutes, with Di Natale finding the back of the net. The veteran connected with Muriel in a quick one-two combination. The Colombian’s clever pass left the Empoli defenders reading the back of Di Natale’s jersey, and the captain made no mistake with his first touch.

Five minutes later, Di Natale got his brace. Settling a ball headed out of the midfield, Empoli defender Vincent Laurini turned to pass to his keeper. It was only after hitting the backpass that Laurini realised he had passed not to Sepe, but to Di Natale, who had been recovering from what would have been an offside position. The attacker collected the pass, turned, and easily placed the shot past Sepe once again.

The veteran striker almost turned provider eight minutes from time, chipping into Bruno Fernandes’s path from the top of the box, only to see the midfielder mishit, sending the ball out of play.

Empoli attacked in a hurry, pushing numbers forward, but were unable to score, despite a skillful run by Manuel Pucciarelli.

 
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