Rudi Garcia's men continued to keep the pressure on at the top of Serie A, although their win was not without talking points
Rudi Garcia’s men, who resumed their Scudetto challenge following the winter break on the back of a six-game unbeaten run, were largely untroubled during a low-key encounter with Udinese, who struggled to break down the visitors’ well-marshalled back-line.
One of the few chances created by either side resulted in the only goal after 17 minutes. Francesco Totti’s free kick from the right was headed goalwards by Davide Astori with the ball striking the underside of the bar before bouncing out.
Referee Marco Guida initially failed to award the goal, but after consulting with the fifth official changed his mind.
Although the Giallorossi offered little going forward, they arguably deserved the three points for the way they kept Udinese, who started the day in ninth place, at arm’s length.
Indeed, Udinese’s best chances came as they searched for a swift equaliser.
Two minutes after the opener, some fine work by Silvan Widmer presented a chance for Antonio Di Natale but his shot was superbly blocked by Astori.
Udinese threatened again after 27 minutes when Di Natale created a yard of space on the right side of the area but his cross to the far post was fractionally ahead of Gabriel Silva and he could only direct his volley wide of goal.
Roma were content to play the ball around in midfield and attack on the counter. And it was an approach which almost reaped dividends eight minutes before the break when a sweeping move led to Juan Iturbe crossing for Totti but his low shot was straight at home goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.
The second half was notable for a lack of goalmouth action until late on as Udinese pressed without forcing Roma stopper Morgan De Sanctis into meaningful action.
And it was Roma who ought to have increased their advantage as they begin to find space going forward but they found Karnezis in fine form.
The Greece international excelled first after 78 minutes with a smart stop to deny Miralem Pjanic. He then pulled off stunning injury-time stops to keep out Urby Emanuelson and Alessandro Florenzi.
In between, Udinese were again infuriated by referee Guida who adjudged Emanuelson to have won the ball in a challenge with Panagiotis Kone inside the area.
Roma now have 39 points, as do Juve, who host Inter later on Tuesday.