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Pepe propels Udinese to another win

Simone Pepe struck his second goal of the week to help Udinese claim back-to-back wins against Siena at the Stadio Friuli on Sunday.

Fabio Quagliarella opened the scoring after 22 minutes on his return to the first team before Pepe doubled his side's advantage seven minutes later.

And the 25-year-old midfielder's strike would prove to be decisive as Houssine Kharja grabbed a goal back for Siena after 38 minutes, but it was not enough.

Victory for Udinese comes hot on the heels of their 3-0 win over Bologna in midweek and moves them provisionally up to third in the table - with the Milan derby to be played later on Sunday - two points behind leaders Lazio.

The home side's fast start to the game was perhaps unexpected as they showed five changes to the team that emphatically cast aside Bologna.

Quagliarella made his return to the starting XI after being a substitute in midweek and was partnered up front by his fellow Italy international Antonio Di Natale in place of Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Floro Flores.

Marco Motta, Aleksandar Lukovic and Fernando Tissone were also drafted in, with Damiano Ferronetti, Giovanni Pasquale and Gokhan Inler dropping to the bench.

Udinese showed no signs of disruption as they bossed the early exchanges before deservedly going ahead through Quagliarella after 22 minutes.

And it was their changed strike duo that combined to give the hosts the lead as Di Natale's cross from the left found Quagliarella, who left-footed his first goal of the campaign.

The Siena players were unhappy with the decision, pleading to referee that Quagliarella was offside, however their protests were ignored.

The away side had further reason to be aggrieved seven minutes later when Quagliarella seemed to use an arm to control the ball in the lead up to Pepe's strike.

Quagliarella received a pass on the edge of the area, which he dubiously brought to a halt, before rolling a pass for Pepe to strike low through the legs of Curci.

Siena were, however, given reason to think their fortunes may be changing before the break when Massimo Maccarone's shot struck a post before falling kindly to Kharja who tapped into an empty net.

It would prove to be Siena's last clear sight of goal as Udinese closed down the match in the second half.

Quagliarella could have put them out of sight 10 minutes after the break when his header from a corner flew over the crossbar. Pepe was also guilty of wasting an opportunity when Di Natale's pass gave him a chance to shoot, but he took too long to fire the trigger allowing Andrea Rossi to make a fine saving tackle.

In the last half hour the game slowed considerably as Udinese comfortably defended their lead, with Siena reduced to long-range strikes. Substitute Mario Frick came the closest with a shot from outside the area that flew wide, but in the end Siena could not find an equalizer.