Negative Udinese bow out
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 07/12/05 9:46pm
Udinese's negative approach back-fired as late goals from Santiago Ezquerro and Andres Iniesta gave Barcelona a 2-0 win - which was enough to knock the Italians out of the UEFA Champions League.
Going into the game Udinese knew that a draw would be enough to give them second spot in Group C and a place in the second phase.
After an equally fought opening half, Udinese decided to go for the draw in the second period and invited an under-strength Barcelona - without big guns Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o - to attack them.
It looked as if the Serie A outfit had done enough, but with just four minutes left and on his full debut for the club - Ezquerro fired home from close range.
Then Iniesta, from Ezquerro's pass - fired into an empty net as Udinese realised they were out as the scoreline from Bremen - Werder 5 Panathinaikos 1 - filtered through to the terraces.
Udinese had made the better start to the game and created the first chances ten minutes in.
Antonio Di Napoli volleyed wide from an acute angle, before Jose Vidigal missed his kick from Vincenzo Iaquinta's knockdown when any contact would surely have tested rookie Albert Jorquera in the visitors goal.
Straight from Vidigal's miss, Barca broke in blistering fashion and Ludovic Giuly was sent clear - but the Frenchman slammed his shot against the crossbar with only Morgan De Sanctis to beat.
The side's then exchanged efforts with Di Napoli and Santiago Ezquerro both fluffing their lines.
Barca then took control and ended the half powerfully and could easily have scored twice.
Henrik Larsson and Belletti combined well down the right, which allowed the Brazilian to break to the by-line before pulling the ball back for Deco who, with an exquisite bit of skill, flicked the ball goalwards as he bewildered the Udinese defence - but unfortunately for Barca his effort dropped just wide of the post.
Giuly then almost got lucky when his fluffed shot somehow sneaked underneath De Sanctis - but the Italian's blushes were sparred when he saw the ball come back off the up-right.
The start of the second half was a torrid affair, with Udinese sitting deeper and deeper as the game progressed.
It took Barca some 15 minutes to carve open a chance, but it should have resulted in a goal as Belletti latched on to a wonderful through ball from Gabri - but the wing back could only fire into the side netting from 15 yards.
Serse Cosmi then decided to take off the impressive Sulley Muntari for defender Stefano Mauri - just to confirm his side's intent - knowing that a draw a 0-0 draw would be good enough to finish in the top-two.
Udinese's first chance of the second half came ten minutes from time and it was a gilt-edged chance for David Di Michele as he was sent clear, but as he tried to round Jorquera he took the ball too far and the keeper managed to put it out for a corner.
Di Michele's chance seemed to stir Barca and the goal that had looked likely for much of the second period duly arrived.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst broke into the box and crossed to the back post, Ezquerro headed at goal and Valerio Bertotto cleared off the line, but the Barca striker was on hand to smash home the rebound.
Udinese immediately pushed forward looking for the goal, but the game was put beyond any doubt as Barca caught the home side on the break to make it 2-0.
Ezquerro was sent clear and as De Sanctis approached he passed across the box for Iniesta to stroke the ball into an empty net.
The Stade Friuli faithful let their feelings be known at full time and it was no more than the home side deserved, with their negative attitude ultimately the key to their own downfall.
Click here for Udinese v Barcelona player ratings
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|0||Shots on Target||4|
|2||Shots off Target||5|
UEFA Champions League
Wed 7th Dec - Group A
Club Brugge1 - 1Bay Munich
Rapid Vienna1 - 3Juventus
Wed 7th Dec - Group B
Arsenal0 - 0Ajax
Sp Prague0 - 0FC Thun
Wed 7th Dec - Group C
W Bremen5 - 1Panathinaikos
Udinese0 - 2Barcelona
Wed 7th Dec - Group D
Benfica2 - 1Man Utd
Villarreal1 - 0Lille
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H