Udinese 0-1 AS Roma: Match Report

Substitute Michael Bradley ensured runaway leaders Roma stayed perfect by sealing their ninth consecutive Serie A win at the expense of Udinese.

The capital club survived the challenge of ambitious Napoli last time out and faced another huge test in Udine, where they struggled for incision without injured captain Francesco Totti before losing Maicon to a red card midway through the second half.

That setback served only to spur Rudi Garcia’s men on, however, and American midfielder Bradley emerged from the bench to beat Ivan Kelava, booking the Giallorossi a slender 1-0 win and a haul of 27 points from the 27 available.

Roma, who next host struggling Chievo, are now five points clear of both Napoli and reigning champions Juventus, while Udinese are in 12th place.

If Garcia’s men were going to drop points anywhere then it was always likely they would do so at the Stadio Friuli, where they had lost three times in five recent visits.

Udinese fear no one in the north east and threatened first, Luis Muriel smashing the ball against a post at the end of a lethal counter-attack.

Alessandro Florenzi was blocked by Naldo at the other end before Morgan De Sanctis, who made nearly 200 appearances for Udinese, parried Antonio Di Natale’s attempt on the Roma goal.

Miralem Pjanic had scored the goals that downed title rivals Napoli and tried his luck from distance in the 34th minute in Friuli, but his swerving strike veered just wide.

Marco Borriello came closer with a powerful header from Federico Balzaretti that Kelava put out for a corner. With half-time fast approaching there was an exchange of efforts between the frustrated sides.

Roma needed Leandro Castan to pull off a goal-line clearance after Gabriel Silva’s shot beat De Sanctis and, at the other end, Pjanic forced another impressive save from Kelava.

When play resumed, Maicon decided to take it upon himself to lead Roma towards their ninth-straight victory.

He would make an impact on the game, but not the one he intended, as he saw red in the moments that followed his fine cross to Pjanic and a screaming solo effort from distance.

The Brazilian had already been booked in the first half and his needless foul on Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu in the centre of the pitch saw Roma reduced to 10 men.

Udinese smelled blood and came desperately close to opening the scoring in the 71st minute. Balzaretti was the main culprit in a defensive mix-up but Di Natale could only blast inches wide of the post with De Sanctis left totally exposed.

Francesco Guidolin’s men had missed their chance and Roma duly found the winner eight minutes from time.

Bradley had only been on the pitch for Borriello for a few minutes when he swept up Kevin Strootman’s pass to find the top corner and prolong his club’s remarkable run.