Di Natale Leads Udinese Win
|Di Natale celebrates...|
Robinson was the youngest of Brendan's chosen starting XI but the main men like Gerrard and Suarez were left on the bench. In contrast to original reports Di Natale wasn't rested and started for Udinese.
Liverpool made a very confident start to the game and were retaining possession with ease. Udinese looked happy to allow this early on but it quickly became apparent that they would need to capitalize on the break.
Liverpool took the lead just after the 20 minute mark and Jonjo Shelvey was heavily involved in almost every aspect. It's easy to forget that Jonjo himself is only young but he has bags of experience under his belt now and for me has been very impressive of late.
After playing the ball out to Downing on the wing Jonjo made his run straight into the box, when encroaching it was clear he wanted his head on the end of this cross. Downing put a lovely ball in and Shelvey made sure that baldy head of his smashed home Liverpool's first goal.
For the rest of the first half Liverpool looked very comfortable, we'd already penetrated a resilient Italian defence and were creating steady attacks.
The second half though was when things began to go seriously wrong for Liverpool. Udinese brought on Lazzari in order to aid their offence but it was the veteran Di Natale that would bring the away side level.
Lazzari actually provided the assist and Di Natale finished inside the penalty area.
It was very unexpected due to the timing but Liverpool couldn't afford to let it knock them back, they were the better team so far, unfortunately, everything seemed to go to pot.
Suarez and Gerrard were brought onto the field of play by Brendan not long after the hour mark, just what we needed to go and find that second goal. Most had predicted that Udinese might find the back of the net but it certainly didn't look at this stage as though they'd be able to find it again and so the Reds needed another goal themselves.
What unfolded during 2 minutes after the Liverpool subs just dumbstruck Brendan's side. A free kick whipped in ended up being turned in by Coates who gifted Udinese their second but a minute later Pasquale had found them a third. Di Natale provided the assist.
I don't quite recall how that was even able to happen but nevertheless Liverpool were 3-1 down with less than 20 minutes to go.
Luckily for the home side Luis Suarez had a little trick up his sleeve. The Uruguayan found the back of the net with a precise free kick. Liverpool still had 15 minutes to find an equaliser but it would be a tough ask.
Sterling got some game time late on but not even the sparks from him could provide Liverpool with a third. It was a mental game to be honest and of course really you would expect the Reds to win but it wasn't exactly disastrous and you have to admit for a Europa League game it was entertaining, so that's something I suppose.
The group is more open now but if anything that just makes things more tasty, there's no real reason to panic.