Serie A: Udinese go top as Milan held

Rome: Udinese went top of Serie A with a 2-1 win at home to Chievo as AC Milan were held to a 2-2 draw at Bologna.

Juventus can reclaim the lead today when they travel to Roma.

Captain Antonio Di Natale and Dusan Basta gave Udinese a 2-0 lead yesterday before Alberto Paloschi`s late consolation kept things interesting right to the end.

Udinese now lead by a point from Juventus with Milan and Lazio, 3-2 winners at rock bottom Lecce on Saturday, a point further back.

"It`s great, it`s wonderful, it`s a magical moment and we`ll try to keep it going as long as possible," said elated Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin, whose side finished fourth last year, his first with them.

Ghana midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah broke forward but dragged his shot wide while Morocco centre-back Mehdi Benatia fired in an effort that was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino as Udinese dominated.

In the second half Di Natale was denied twice in quick succession by desperate defending. The striker was about to knock home the rebound after Sorrentino saved Mauricio Isla`s shot but Boukary Drame slid in to block his effort.

Then moments later Nicolas Frey hacked his back-flick off the line with Sorrentino beaten. But Udinese got the goal they deserved when Chievo finally cracked under the pressure and Di Natale headed home Isla`s cross.

Dusan Basta seemed to have settled the affair with a stooping header from a corner but Alberto Paloschi curled home a shot from outside the box eight minutes from time to keep Udinese`s fans on the edge of their seats.

In Bologna it was a controversial tale of penalties given and not as Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Diamanti scored for the hosts with Clarence Seedorf and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, from the spot, replying for the champions.

Bologna were off to a flying start when Di Vaio broke the offside trap on 11 minutes, running onto Diamanti`s long ball and lobbing the onrushing Marco Amelia.

The lead lasted only five minutes, though, before Kevin-Prince Boateng beat two players and slipped the ball to Seedorf, who smashed a stunning strike from 20 yards into the top corner.

Bologna were showing no signs of either fatigue from their extra-time Italian Cup defeat to Juve in midweek or being intimidated by illustrious opponents.

Milan had a lucky escape on the stroke of half-time when Seedorf appeared to handle in the area but the referee gave nothing. Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri admitted certain decisions had gone his side`s way.

"Seedorf touched it with his arm, that was a penalty."

Bologna had the bit between their teeth and Di Vaio`s deflected shot beat Amelia but hit the post. Milan were then awarded a penalty for a foul on Ibrahimovic who duly slotted home from 12 yards, although there appeared very little contact between him and Andrea Raggi.

"The defender kicks and he (Ibra) throws himself down, there`s no point denying the evidience," added an honest Allegri.

And yet 60 seconds later Diamanti turned inside Thiago Silva and fired home. Milan then also had a shout for a penalty for handball against Archemide Morleo from Ibrahimovic`s point-blank cross but that wasn`t given.

"The refereeing mistakes weren`t one-way," was Allegri`s final take on the decisions.

Napoli continued to stumble in the league as they were held to a 1-1 draw at second bottom Novara leaving them nine points off the summit. Ivan Radovanovic gave Novara the lead 20 minutes from time but Blerim Dzemaili equalised six minutes from the end.

In other games Atalanta and Catania drew 1-1 while it remained goalless between Cagliari and Parma.


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