Udinese: Win Against Catania Clinches Champions League Spot

Michael KohCorrespondent IIIMay 14, 2012

CATANIA, ITALY - MAY 13: Players of Udinese celebrate after the Serie A between Catania Calcio and Udinese Calcio at Stadio Angelo Massimino on May 13, 2012 in Catania, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Udinese have done it. They've clinched third place in Serie A with a 2-0 victory over Catania (11W-15D-12L).

The Zebrettes finish the season with 18 wins, 10 draws and 10 losses with 64 points—an incredible 16 points behind second place AC Milan.

Nevertheless, Udinese can breathe with relief. They will play in the group stages of the Champions League next year. 

The win means Lazio and Napoli's games—win, lose or draw—were irrelevant.

Lazio (18W-8D-12L) recorded an emphatic 3-1 win against sixth-place Inter Milan (17W-7D-14L) to finish fourth with 62 points in the league. Meanwhile, Napoli (16W-13D-9L) won 2-1 against Siena (16W-13D-9L) and ended in fifth place with 61 points.

Although only a draw was necessary for Udinese to clinch a Champions League berth, the Udine side played to prove to Serie A that they can be serious contenders in Europe. 

Home side Catania played an attacking 4-3-3 formation, whereas Udinese packed the midfield and played 3-5-2. 

Antonio Di Natale missed a sitter in the first minute of the first half, but later scored from a Maurizio Domizzi through-ball with 26 minutes left in the half.

It should have been his second, but he made up for his miss with a fantastic finish. 

With just over five minutes to go before halftime, Udinese's Roberto Pereyra gave up a penalty and was shown a yellow card. Alejandro Gomez took the spot-kick, but sent the ball agonizingly wide. 

In the second half, Diego Fabbrini scored for Udinese with just under an hour gone to effectively take Catania out of the game. 

The away side completely dominated their opponents, recorded 12 shots at goal, eight of which were on target (67 percent accuracy-rate) and scored twice. They recorded 20 fouls, which knocked Catania out of rhythm, and ended up with five yellow cards. Meanwhile, keeper Samir Handanovic had little to do, producing two saves for Udinese. 

A fantastic season for Francesco Guidolin's side comes to an end, but with serious consequences. The coach has since revealed plans to resign from the club.

If he does, the next manager has some big shoes to fill.