Fiorentina demolish Siena in style to claim the Tuscan derby
Siena made the short journey north to the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday morning to face a Fiorentina side that have been stuttering in recent weeks. Francesco Totti inspired Roma to victory over La Viola last weekend, and that result in the capital had been preceded by stalemates with Torino and Sampdoria. Serse Cosmi’s side had occupied the bottom spot in Serie A for the majority of the campaign, but were hoping a result against their Tuscan rivals would kick start their push for survival going into the winter break.
Fiorentina quashed any optimism surrounding the visitors within the opening half an hour, and restored order after several lacklustre performances in recent weeks. David Pizarro returned from compassionate leave to dictate in midfield alongside Borja Valero and Alberto Aquilani. Their complete dominance left the Bianconeri flatfooted in all departments. In the space of five minutes Luca Toni opened the scoring and Pizarro converted a penalty – on an emotional outing for the Chilean following the death of his sister Claudia.
Aquilani rounded off an exceptional first half display with a close-range volley a minute before the interval. Vincenzo Montella could afford to substitute top goal scorer Stevan Jovetić, who returned to the lineup from a month on the sidelines through injury. Despite a spirited fight back led by Alessandro Rosina, managing to pull one back through Ferreira Reginaldo for the Robur, the hosts remained in control. Toni capped a man of the match performance and his brace with a second header with ten minutes left to play.
In the final minutes Massimo Paci hauled Mounir El Hamdaoui over in the box and duly received a second yellow card. Aquilani stepped up after Pizarro had been substituted for Giulio Migliaccio, and went on to blaze the ball far and high over Gianluca Pegolo’s crossbar. More than a convincing dispatching, Fiorentina returned to the heights of their five match winning streak in November and made sure they remained in contact with the title contenders at the summit of Serie A.
Fiorentina’s strongest assets as a team were on show in a perfect display against their local rivals. The ability to put their heads down and power through a side that have notched up eight clean sheets in the opening 20 minutes was spectacular. Having taken a comfortable lead they had no issue in containing Cosmi’s men by nonchalantly keeping possession and tiring their counterparts. The three-man defence of Stefan Savić, Gonzalo Rodríguez and Facundo Roncaglia was resolute without being consistently pressured.
Pizarro’s emotional return also highlighted the tight-knitted nature of the squad. The entire team banded around the former Manchester City man following his early goal, and Pasqual handed him the armband upon being replaced by Cristian Llama. “He is an extraordinary player and a sensitive man who needed the affection of his teammates and fans,” explained Montella at the final whistle. With the result in the bag, the 33-year-old was given a standing ovation when being substituted.
Montella has transformed the club from top to bottom since his arrival from Catania in June. The former Roma striker has proved himself to be the best young manager around the peninsula. Aside from Jovetić and captain Manuel Pasqual, his regular starting lineup comprises of players brought in during the summer. His confidence and audacity as a 38-year-old tactician has no boundaries either, as he had no problem in replacing out of form goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano with youngster Neto despite being the clear fan favorite.
La Viola face a struggling Palermo in Sicily ahead of the winter break, which should see them consolidate a place in fifth should Lazio and Napoli not slip up. The Tuscan giants have not challenged for a European spot since the 2008-09 season, but look set to battle all the way for third and a Champions League qualifying place this term. The Italian press are adamant they are dark horses for the title, but with Juventus pulling away in first they will have to pick up the pace and start beating the sides around them to compete.Tagged in: football, serie a
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