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Di Natale equaliser ensures Udinese oust Celtic

Udinese Calcio 1-1 Celtic FC
The Serie A outfit gained the point they needed to progress from Group I thanks to an Antonio Di Natale volley against their qualification rivals.

Antonio Di Natale volleys in the equaliser for Udinese
Antonio Di Natale volleys in the equaliser for Udinese ©Getty Images

Udinese Calcio qualified for the UEFA Europa League round of 32 at Celtic FC's expense following a 1-1 draw between the teams in Group I.

Needing victory to progress along with Club Atlético de Madrid, the visitors had one foot in Friday's draw when Gary Hooper gave them a 29th-minute lead. Antonio Di Natale volleyed in what proved to be the telling goal, however, in first-half added time.

Only the spin of the ball prevented Celtic from falling behind early on, Di Natale running on to Pablo Armero's pass and lobbing narrowly wide. If that was a let-off for the Hoops then it was Udinese's turn to breathe a sigh of relief midway through the first half after Giorgos Samaras slid in Hooper. The 23-year-old, normally so clinical in such situations, dragged a shot across goal.

Celtic soon got the breakthrough they craved, however, with Hooper this time unable to miss. Samaras, again, was the creator, delivering a cross which Samir Handanovič punched into team-mate Joel Ekstrand. It left Hooper with the simple task of tapping into the unguarded net.

Rocked by that and the loss of Emmanuel Badu to injury, Udinese levelled on the cusp of half-time. Di Natale, the Zebrette's ten-goal top scorer in Serie A, marked a rare group stage outing with a powerful close-range volley, inadvertently fashioned by Cha Du-Ri's header across the box.

Di Natale, ever a willing runner, had another attempt on 63 minutes which Forster parried, and when the ball was returned into the box, Mauricio Isla's header was again repelled by the Celtic goalkeeper. Chances were coming thick and fast, with Kwadwo Asamoah and Cha frustrated by the woodwork in quick succession.

Di Natale was then thwarted twice by Forster in a matter of seconds, although ultimately it mattered little as Udinese advanced.