Europa League: Udinese 2 – 0 Atlético

Late strikes bring Udinese an unexpected victory in dull affair

Luis Perea against Udinese (

Luis Perea against Udinese (

Only 10,026 spectators were present in an empty Stadio Friuli to witness Udinese’s victory over Atlético in the Europa League.

The Zebrette left it late, in a match which again saw Atleti unable to score in an away game.

At least on paper, this was our toughest Europa League fixture of the group phase, but Gregorio Manzano seemed to take the match lightly, resting several players.

Álvaro Domínguez didn’t even make the bench.

In attack Juanfran and Pizzi got rare starts, while Paulo Assunção replaced the out-of-form Mario Suárez in midfield. Luis Perea returned to the starting XI and Diego Godín partnered up with Miranda in defence.

Francesco Guildolin also left out some of his key players and sat down next to his star forward Antonio Di Natale on the bench.

Udinese are most dangerous from counter-attacks and they were happy to let Atleti have the ball as we dominated the majority of the game.

But the first big opportunity of the match was for Antonio Floro Flores, who found himself unmarked after a free kick. Fortunately for Atleti a bad start was avoided, because the striker headed the ball over the crossbar.

When Atlético first created an opportunity it fell before the feet of the man who is yet to score after 264 appearances. Luis Perea created a chance all by himself, but shot straight at goalkeeper Handanovic.

The home side only threatened through set pieces and came close after half an hour, but Courtois kept out the powerfully hit free kick by Giampiero Pinzi with an excellent save.

Atleti saw plenty of the ball but failed to open up Udinese’s defence. There were shots from distance by Falcao, Gabi and Pizzi, but they were off target or aimed at Handanovic.

After the break Diego Godín was handed a huge opportunity when a loose ball fell before his feet, but the Uruguayan showed he’s better with his head than his feet and shot wide from close range.

A minute later Thibaut Courtois pulled off an incredible save when Benatia directed a powerful header towards the topcorner.

There was a bit of controversy at about the 75th minute mark. Falcao failed to get to a clear scoring chance after being noticeably held and then flung to the ground by Udinese’s Dušan Basta.

The Colombian flailed his arms in disbelief towards the referee, angry that a penalty kick had not been awarded.

Play continued and neither side was able to create any opportunities. All attacks were stranded at an early stage.

We seemed on our way to a third consecutive goalless draw, but Udinese decided the match with a fortunate goal just before time.

Filipe Luis cleared another free kick, but no further than Fabbrini who was waiting on the edge of the box. The forward didn’t strike the ball very well, but on the way to goal it was controlled by centre back Benatia who avoided being offside and calmly finished.

In the added time Floro Flores made matters even worse for the Rojiblancos when he netted his squad’s second with a great strike.

We suddenly found ourselves down 2-0.

Although the team deserved more than leaving Udine empty-handed, Atlético’s performance was again uninspiring and we failed to score in yet another away game.

Udinese now lead Group I of the Europa League with 7 points, while Atleti follow with four. Rennes and Celtic have two points each after their 1-1 draw.

In two weeks Atlético play the return leg against the Italians at the Vicente Calderón.

Line-up: Courtois; Perea, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Gabi (“80 Adrián), Assunção, Diego; Juanfran (“59 Reyes), Falcao and Pizzi (“86 Koke).

Goals: 1-0 Benatia (“88); 2-0 Floro Flores (“94)

  • Matthijs

    I don’t know what Manzano is doing! The defence was ok and I think that Perea was our best man, despite a slight mistake in the second half.

    We controlled the game, but we have to score now. Manzano had to start with Adrian and Reyes, they are moving a lot and can create chances by them selves!

    Sunday we need to win, otherwise it is going to be hard for Manzano!

  • I just think the team some mesh. And while Manzano keeps doing all these change every single match we won’t get it.

    We don’t see this kind of rotation on any club. Are they strong or do they have better fitness?

    I don’t think so.

  • Urban

    Dont worry league is our main objective… oh wait we suck there as well…

  • Matthijs

    It was the same last year with Quique!

  • 92

    I think we did a decent job, a fair result would have been a draw, the problem was that we had a lot of injuries and our players haven’t yet link up at all, besides Udinese has a lot of quality subs, and we barely completed our squad, so definately we need to shopping once the transfer windows opens.
    By the way Benatia seemed like a real goalscorer in the first goal.

  • ratchet

    im sick if it wasnt a fair result. were doing crap and will be orobably be doing crap qll season judging early evidence

  • Jose Ignacio Perez-Laorga

    Ok everyone needs to take a deep breath, the score wasn’t fair, and our team control 88 minutes of the match. This lose doesnt mean its all negatives. Courtois did good as always and we had a strong defense. Perea didnt do as bad as I expected. Manzano is not making the best decisions at all, it seems that our players look lost when we get to attack, once we pass the mid field, we look like a second division team. Pizzi and Juanfran didnt deserve to start, Adrian deserves a real chance not just 5 minutes, and reyes needs to stay on the bench, he’s not himself. Manzano needs to meditate or his days on this team are counted for. We need a change soon, or the whole season will go to waste

    Aupa Atleti!!

  • Flo

    As usual. One goal and we would have won this game.

  • Still though not all negative (except the score) but Pizzi didn’t show much I think…and Koke should be given more of a chance. Reyes, as long as he played for is goddamn selfish and will probably always be, but he needs to start, because he can, and has in the past been able to create good opportunities or score even. I don’t know what Manzano is doing but he needs to get his fecking ducks into a row, or we’ll get fuck all from the season, Europa League and the Cup all together.


  • k14

    Am I the only who noticed that we only conceded 1 goal in la liga which was against valencia (not counting barca game).

    I think the team is doing good, they just need to improve offensively over time, and we need Arda back, unlike most of u here, I believe things are going good.

  • Sebyk

    @k14: It’s nice we don’t concede, but how many goals did we score? Few against Racing and Sporting and that’s pretty much it. And even againt them we were dangerous mainly from set pieces. There has been no improvement in our attacking phase whatsoever. I know that Manzano is still aksing for our patience, but I’m in the process of losing it very quickly. It’s goals that count, not clean sheets…

  • bad_very_bad

    manzano need to change something or someone, need to see adrian with falcao, better than playing with 3 medfielder!!! think that 4-4-2 double pivote is better with two winger and two stiker!!!

  • How many times do we see italian teams do the same thing. What is Manzano after ?
    Rest players in premiere ,then lose. Rest them again for europa, lose again. Courtois was impressive as always. But somehow we are still lacking. The flow still isnt strong enough.
    I say let them come, time for some repayment.

  • 92

    Things aren’t going good at the moment, and I agree with Sebyk, not conceding goals it’s great but more importanly is to conver them, matches are won by scoring goals not by keeping clean sheets, I know that we’re going are gonna improve as the season progresses but we do need to start winning as soon as possible.
    About Manzano getting fired if he doesn’t start winning games, I think that he isn’t exactly the reason why we are not getting good results, for one part he his responsible because of that tacticshe uses but not directly, I think that the players aren’t not fully doing their part in order to win the matches, after all they are the ones responsible to win, draw or lose the matches, we also have to understand that in the last matches we have had a lot of injured players and that indeed is affecting us, and I agree that changes need to be done to improve but I don’t believe that firing Manzano is gonna make us improve at all.

  • atletisrael

    I think the team has done a couple of mistakes before the start of the season… First is giving up forlan. He would have been just what we needed in italy if he would take pizzis’ place. Second mistake was depending on falcao alone as a scorer. He is amazing and would finish, I hope, as one of la ligas’ top scorer, but he is alone up there…

    I really think that pizzi should start more. He looked more dangerous than his fellow team mates on Thursday.

    As a matter of fact, manzano is always doing great on substitutes but he never reads the game before it starts and always makes preparation mistakes. It looks like he is taking lineup choice too lightly.

    And again ones more a request for diego. STOP TAKING FREE KICKS!!!

  • ratchet

    i agree completely with sebyk and about our forwards i think aguero us way better than falcao falcoa hasnt scored in 5 games and last season aguero was single handedly dragging us into the europa league he can win matches when the team isnt playing well falcao cant as the chances meed to be made for him hes not an individual therefore he isnt the best replacement for aguero and if we dont turn things around by new year we are going to be too far off the champions lesgue places basically we need to beat mallorca or there us going to be serious worrying about the team

  • Ringo

    Calm down guys, just two months ago most of us were saying that, with this new project, we need to give the team some time.
    You can’t create Barcelona 2.0 in a short amount of time, it takes a lot of practice with the team and there are still a lot of good players.
    I know Manzano seems a bit too scared at times, but we should actually be pretty grateful the defense is already pretty stable.
    Now, when the midfield starts playing better, we can start expecting goals again.

  • 92

    Ringo, so you’re saying that as time passes Atletico is going to become a Barcelona team like?, well, I think that seems imposible for any team, Barcelona has had this attacking style and identity for over 20 years and I think Atleti should come up with their own identity and playing style, because I don’t think that copying Barca’s identity is the right path for us.

  • Ringo Schut

    I meant quality, if you expect this team to be title contender this year, one that wins about everything, you should wake up. It takes time, there are just too many new players at the moment and another style of play has been chosen. Everyone has to adapt, so let’s wait with or judgement for at least a couple of extra months.
    It is very annoying to not see the team winning, but don’t forget the prospect. We don’t want another Abel Resinous story (nice row of games, but very inconsistent and after a while it just stopped working entirely).

  • 92

    I have to agree that it’s gonna take time for us to become a great time and indeed it’s gonna take time for the new players to fully adapt, but that does justify the bad results the team has had, but I know we have to be patient and I’m sure we’ll have good results within the next matches.