A solitary strike from Patrick Vieira after 37 minutes was enough to ensure that leaders Juventus claimed all three points away to Udinese, and maintain their 100% start to the season.
Fielding a depleted side in the absence of Thuram, Pessotto, Zebina and Birindelli and Buffon, Juve had the better of the opening exchanges with Ibrahimavic missing two good chances.
However, Udinese – without Vincenzo Iaqunita, who has been frozen out of the side for failing to sign a contract extension – created chances of their own, the best of which fell to Vidigal, who thumped a powerful half – volley just over the bar.
But, after Vieira’s deft volley, fashioned from Manuel Blasi’s left wing cross, ‘Don’ Fabio’s side were firmly in the ascendancy and seldom looked like relinquishing their lead.
Despite reverting to a more attack minded 3-4-3 after the interval, Udinese found themselves largely on the backfoot and, save for the profligacy of Emerson and Ibrahimavic, could have fallen further behind.
In a rare incursion, Udinese went close to scoring an equalizer late on, but, after dribbling past on loan keeper Christian Abbiati, Di Natale saw his shot cleared off the line by Croatian defender Robert Kovac.
After a disappointing defeat away to Sampdoria on Saturday, Milan recovered well to beat Lazio 2-0 at the San Siro.
Andrii Shevchenko fired the Rosseneri ahead after just twelve minutes when, on collecting Christian Vieri’s pass, he cleverly evaded Stenardo’s challenge to fire past Matteo Serini – deputizing for the injured Angelo Peruzzi – into the far corner of the net.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men extended their lead two minutes later when Kaka latched on to Andrea Pirlo’s deflected cross, and tapped in from close range.
Fifteen minutes from time, Lazio’s misery was compounded when Boronio limped off. Having used all three of their designated substitutes, the visitors were forced to play the remainder of the game with ten men, and were nearly punished further when, with seven minutes remaining, the effervescent Kaka forced a fine save from Sereni.
Milan’s rivals, Inter, also recorded a victory, beating Chievo at the Stadio Bentagodi, to secure their first away points of the season.
The goal came courtesy of Argentine Walter Samuel, who made his Serie A debut for the Nezaurri after returning from a three match suspension he incurred for spitting at Juve’s Pavel Nedved in the Italian Super Cup Final.
After being bought down by Sammarco, Figo floated a free kick in from the edge of the penalty box in the 49th minute, which his ex-Madrid teammate Samuel comfortably headed home.
Prior to and after the goal, Inter had several other chances to score, principally from Recoba and Stankovic, who’s glancing header from Veron’s free kick went just wide of the right hand post.
Meanwhile, dark horses Fiorentina kept up their impressive early season from with a 3 – 1 victory away to Lecce.
It was the home side, however, who took the lead when, on the stroke of half-time, Alex Pinardi rifled home from the spot after Manuel Pasqual was adjudged to have handled in his own penalty area.
The visitors struck back immediately after the break, though, when Stefan Fiore – on loan from Spanish side Valencia – pounced onto a loose ball after Lecce failed to adequately clear a corner kick.
The diminutive Bulgarian forward Valerei Boijinov added a second after 53 minutes, and the victory was complete when Luca Toni fired home a free header from Pasqual’s in – swinging cross just after the hour.
The win leaves the Viola in second place, just two points behind Juventus.
Just behind Fiorentina in third place are Palermo, who beat Regina 1-0 at the Stadio Babera.
A goal from centre – back Christian Terlizzi – incredibly, his fourth in as many games – was enough to bag the points for the Sicilians who, considering the inordinate amount of chances they created, could – and perhaps should – have won more comprehensively.
Elsewhere, Sampdoria fresh from their impressive victory over Mila, beat Treviso 2-0, away from home, leaving Ezio Rossi’s side still searching of their first ever Serie A points.
Emiliano Bonnazoli was the star of the show, scoring both goals – one either side of half time.
The former Reggina forward’s first came after goalkeeper Zancape mishandled Tonetto’s left wing cross, allowing him to slot the ball home into an empty net.
His second came just a couple of minutes after the restart when he masterfully volleyed in Zenoni’s right wing centre.
Roma went someway to atoning for their erratic start to the season, as Shabandi Nonda bagged a brace in their crushing 4-1 defeat of Parma.
After some early incursions into the Parma penalty area, the home side took the lead, somewhat fortuitously, after 24 minutes, when captain Fransesco Totti curled in a free kick, which deflected off Cardone into the top right hand corner of the net.
Nonda scored his first – and Roma’s second – two minutes later when he touched the ball into an empty net after Tadelli had lobbed Gianluca Curgi in the Parma goal.
Christian Panucci netted Roma’s third on 34 minutes, after Parma had temporarily decreased the deficit four minutes earlier through Cannavaro.
The rout was complete three minutes from time when Nonda fired home from close range after Curgi had parried Perotta’s long-range drive, and repelled Totti’s initial rebound.
At the foot of the table, Empoli beat Cagliari 3-1 at the Stadio Castellani, as both teams looked to recover from indifferent starts to their respective campaigns.
After trailing through Camponi’s 33rd minute strike, Empoli staged an impressive second half fight back to overhaul the deficit.
It took them just one minute after the restart to restore parity, as Franscesco Tavano turned in Christian Rigano’s wonderfully weighted pass to score his team’s first goal of the season.
Eighteen minute later, Tavano was again played in by Rigano, to put Empoli in the lead, a lead that was effectively rendered unassailable when, in the 68th minute, Almiron drilled home from distance.
Finally, there were draws played out between Ascoli and Siena (1-1), and Messina and Livorno (0-0).
The former game was more eventful of the two, though perhaps due to the fact that the game was delayed by ten minutes after a hole was discovered in the turf, rather than for its footballing qualities!
When play did eventually resume, Siena took the lead after just one minute, with a spectacular Erjon Bogdani volley.
Ascoli drew level soon afterwards, however, after Marco Ferrante took advantage of some calamitous defending to turn the ball in from six yards.