Udinese had the first chance of the match on 12 minutes, after some good play early on for Celtic, however a poor pass from returning skipper Scott Brown was intercepted by Emmanuel Badu. He lobbed the ball over the Celtic defenders but e Natale’s attempted lob over Fraser Forster went wide of the post.
Despite that early scare, Celtic were inches wide of taking the lead on 22 minutes. The much maligned Georgios Samaras showed some great control beating a number of challenges from the backtracking Udinese players, before he slotted the ball through to Gary Hooper but the striker could only fire his shot past the far post.
Just seven minutes later all of Celtic’s hard work and good link up play paid off when Hooper opened the scoring for Neil Lennon’s side. That man Samaras was again the provider when he delivered the ball across the face of goal, but Joel Ekstrand’s attempted clearance deflected off the Celtic striker before he knocked the ball over the line from two yards out.
Despite looking comfortable for the remainder of the half, Udinese equalised in first half injury time. A ball into the box was knocked down by Cha Du-Ri, but it fell to Udinese striker De Natale who slotted the ball into the back of the net, despite Forster getting his fingertips to it.
Into the second half and Udinese pressed forward, Celtic keeper Fraser Forster was forced into a string of good saves to deny Udinese.
It wasn’t all Udinese in the second half of the game, with Celtic having one or two of their own. On 75 minutes, Cha fired a half volley off the post but it fell into the waiting arms of Udinese keeper Samir Handanovic.
Another poor defensive clearance from Daniel Majstorovic on 80 minutes nearly gifted Di Natale his second of the game, but Forster made a superb save to deny the Italian striker.
Despite Celtic having a number of forays forward in the closing stages and a late penalty claim which fell on deaf ears, they could not find the goal that would have sealed a win and qualification to the last 32 of the Europa League.
UDINESE: Handanovic; Benatia, Danilo, Ekstrand; Basta, Badu (Pinzi 29), Asamoah, Doubai (Isla 46), Armero; Abdi; De Natale.
Subs not used: Padelli, Neuton, Fabbrini, Pereyra, Floro Flores
CELTIC: Forster; Cha, Majstorovic, Wanyama, Mulgrew; Brown, Kayal (Stokes 70), Ki; Forrest; Samaras (Bangura 83); Hooper
Subs not used: Zaluska, K. Wilson, Toshney, George, F. Twardzik
Man of the match: Fraser Forster