With a goal in each half, Fiorentina stormed Stadio Olimpico and took over fourth place in the standings, a major step toward Champions League ambitions. AC Milan is now just three points ahead in third place.
An inspired Montenegrin Stevan Jovetic opened the scoring in the 20th minute and at beginning of the second half Serb Adem Ljajic closed the match’s scoring.
The Viola played spectacular football, sometimes bold and always tactically ordered. And a few brief flashes from Lazio couldn’t do anything against a superior opponent, who has shown great maturity in the 2–0 away win.
“We played with personality and maturity on a difficult pitch after four consecutive defeats away. We wanted it,” said Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Montella in an interview with Sky.
“It was a difficult test and we played very well to the challenge. We were at times masters of the field.
“Our personality has pleased me a lot. This result makes us more optimistic, but the path is difficult. We need to continue that way,” Montella said.
Of the same opinion is one of the stars of the evening at the Olimpico, Jovetic, who said, “It was a heavy victory against a direct competitor.
“We have to think a race at a time, staying humble and focused. I think we can win anywhere, if we were able to do it against the Biancocelesti [Lazio] with this personality and game quality, then we can be optimistic.”
The Viola approached the match with their usual courage. The trident Ljajic-Cuadrado-Jovetic was supported by the incursions of Manuel Pasqual on the left wing.
Borja Valero dominated the game; he was the decisive protagonist in attack and always careful to protect his defense. He pressed and pressured anywhere in the field and ran miles at a trot, with the ball on his feet and without showing the slightest signs of fatigue.
Alone, Valero would have done as much anyway, but being paired with David Pizarro, he stunned Lazio, chasing the ball like birds in a cage, clashing repeatedly with anger against the purple mesh that the two midfielders widen and tighten at will like an accordion.
The technical superiority of Viola was disarming. Ljajic and Jovetic dribbled men with great ease, Cuadrado’s speed did the rest in dismembering Lazio’s defense. In defense, Stefan Savic triumphed over Sergio Floccari, the lone Lazio striker.
The only song out of the Lazio chorus was Senad Lulic. His offensive raids did give the Fiorentina defense some work to do, but his partners in crime were not able to finish what he created.
The words of Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic were clear enough to analyze the defeat of his team. “We have not believed it enough. We also had a few occasions, we had to put it in, we had to do more; however, Fiorentina was good,” he said.
“They believed it more than us, they deserved to win even though we conceded two avoidable goals. We knew their triangulations, and yet…
“Now we have to think of the Champions League, of course, we are not the only ones who have difficulties in this period; however, it is true that you have to believe more,” said Petkovic.
Viola Break Through
A heavy storm subsided at Stadio Olimpico just before kickoff and the teams started the match in a soggy but workable field. Steps splashed, control was difficult, and treacherous rebounds shook the defenders that struggled with a crazy ball.
The Viola broke through immediately on the left wing where Pasqual and Ljajic exploited the gaps left free by Honorato Ederson. At the 20th minute was a foray of Ljajic triggered the first Fiorentina goal.
Ljajic fed a ball towards the center that ran along the edge of the 18-yard box. Valero freed with a feint Jovetic, who placed a precise low shot to the left of Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti.
At the end of the first half Lazio raised his head, but did not find a clear scoring chance. In the 41st minute, Ederson’s shot was not a worry for goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, who, this time, had an excellent outing.
Failing to get the better of Fiorentina throughout the game, Petkovic in the second half played an interesting card bringing on the 6-foot-4-inch Libor Kozak. But the big Czech never got into the game.
A few minutes later Fiorentina doubled their lead. Ljajic sent a free kick from outside the box that bounced in front of Marchetti and into the goal. The tricky free kick fooled the Lazio goalkeeper who might have been expecting a deflection from a head in the wall.
Lazio failed to emerge in this game. Only a few flare-ups stoked a spark of hope in the astonished Lazio fans. Late in the second half, Ogenyi Onazi touched the post to the right of the Fiorentina goalkeeper with a razor from outside the area.
Fiorentina have masterfully dominated the match, keeping their concentration to the very end. And on the day of Juventus increasing their Serie A lead to nine points against Napoli, who was defeated at Chievo, the Viola surpassed Lazio and Inter in a single bound in the table.
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