In a subdued encounter at the Stadio Fruili, the Ghanaian and Italian provided attacking potency to keep their opportunity for top-flight European football open
Udinese have given their Champions League aspirations a major boost after seeing off Parma 3-1 on Saturday in Serie A action.
Without a win in their last five outings and having lost 1-0 to Siena last Sunday, when both Lazio and Napoli failed to win, Udinese had a feeling that their Champions League opportunities were slipping away from them before this encounter.
They faced a Parma side who ended an eight match winless stretch with a much needed 3-1 victory over the Biancazzurri last week, creating a seven-point gap between themselves and Lecce in the relegation zone.
After a cagey opening with little between the two teams, it was the visitors who threatened to break the deadlock first. McDonald Mariga picked up the ball on the right side before unleashing a powerful drive from 25 yards, which was palmed away by Samir Handanovic at full stretch.
Pablo Armero showed signs of causing problems with his pace and Di Natale looked lively as Francesco Guidolin’s men started to take control in the wet conditions. After 21 minutes, Di Natale delivered a tantalising ball across the face of the six-yard box, which somehow managed to defeat defenders and striker alike.
Two minutes later, the Ducali showed they were up for the fight, when Massimo Gobbi broke the offside trap and attempted to slide the ball under the advancing Handanovic, but the keeper was equal to the task.
The biggest talking point of the first period arrived 33 minutes in, when a counterattack from Parma resulted in the last man being pulled down by Roberto Preyera, who was lucky to escape with just a booking.
Roberto Donadoni’s misery deepened in injury time as an evenly matched contest turned in Udinese’s favour when Kwadwo Asamoah converted a back-post header by Di Natale.
The trailing side came out from the break looking lively but in the 56th minute Di Natale provided a piece of individual brilliance, plucking Armero’s cross from the air before unleashing a thunderous strike back across the goal, leaving Mirante with no chance.
A defeated Parma side failed to provide many more clear cut chances until the 83rd minute when captain Alessandro Lucarelli stabbed in from a corner.
But it was Udinese’s day as Asamoah took advantage of some woeful late defending to seal the game for the home side, keeping them in the hunt for Champions League football next season.