NEWCASTLE, England (AP) – Udinese moved into pole position for Serie A's third berth in the Champions League next season thanks to a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Genoa, who ended the game with nine men and needing a point from their final game of the season.
Juraj Kucka was sent off first in the 29th minute when he gave away a free-kick, from which Antoni Di Natale put Udinese in front.
Rodrigo Palacio followed him for an early bath in the 38th minute and the home team controlled the rest of the game, adding a second through Antonio Floro Flores in the 66th minute.
They now go into their final game of the season against Catania next weekend knowing that a win would seal their place in the Champions League while a draw - and even a defeat could still see them through.
Genoa could still go down to Serie B if they lose behind closed doors against Palermo and Lecce defeat Chievo.
The first turning point in the game arrived after half an hour when Kucka failed to heed the referee's repeated warnings and earned a second yellow card for a foul on Diego Fabbrini outside the penalty area.
Further punishment arrived form the free-kick which Di Natale curled in, despite the efforts of Sebastien Frey to keep it out at his near post.
Genoa's hopes of getting back into the game were ended eight minutes later when Palacio was sent off.
He seemed to vent his frustration at his own team mate Emiliano Moretti, but the referee thought the Argentinian's rant was aimed at him and showed him a straight red card.
Even Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin tried to change the referee's mind, but all of the protests were in vain.
Michele Pazienza had a goal disallowed early in the second half for no apparent reason, but the second goal was not too long in arriving.
Dusan Basta's cross was a matter of inches in front of Di Natale, but it sat up nicely in front of Floro Flores, who scored high into the roof of the net at the far post.
The home team played down the clock while Genoa preserved their energy for next weekend, when they need a point to secure their Serie A status.