FLORENCE, Italy—Fiorentina recorded its fifth Serie A victory in a row and are now tied with Napoli for third place after a convincing 4–1 win over 10-man Atalanta at Artemio Franchi Stadium on Sunday.
It was a timely win for Fiorentina as the three clubs above them in the table prior to the start of the match (Juventus, Inter Milan, and Napoli) all drew their matches this weekend.
Vincenzo Montella’s team got two goals from Alberto Aquilani at the end of the first half, which effectively sealed the victory. The Viola confirmed themselves as one team, along with leader Juventus, who are playing the best football in Serie A currently.
“We are working well, we played a great match, and we have to keep doing like this,” Aquilani said in an interview with Sky. “We must keep our feet on the ground; if we are still there after the winter break, we can begin to dream.”
Midfielder David Pizarro spoke about how Fiorentina has come together as a team. “This is a result which comes from working together. We met each other just at the end of the summer, but it looks like we’ve been playing together for a long time.
“So far our results say that Fiorentina can give you much trouble.”
Fiorentina started very well, going ahead after only five minutes with a goal from Gonzalo Rodriguez. The defender, who is regarded as one of the best purchases this year by the team owned by Andrea Della Valle, scored with an inviting ball served by Manuel Pasqual.
The Chilean maestro Pizarro conquered the center of the field, offering new spaces for his team. Pizarro was not marked very tightly by Atlanata; he retrieved important balls and showed no sign of decline throughout the game. He was always attentive and ready to interject, and he offered much creativity in attack.
Borja Valero, already known for as a world champion with Spain, added his technical qualities to a strong Fiorentina performance.
And of course, Luca Toni provides great service up front, drawing many fouls.
In the 24th minute, Atalanta offered their first real attack. German Denis found his space in the area picking up a free kick from the left wing. He turned and blasted a fast shot over the net.
Shortly thereafter, the Viola defense, second only to Juve for goals conceded this year, seemed distracted and risked being taken advantage of. Atalanta evened the score in the 32nd minute when Giacomo Bonaventura found the net from close range action.
Fiorentina’s reaction was immediate.
In the 34th minute, Aquilani first tried from outside the area but Andrea Consigli rejected the shot, and then the Serb Adem Ljajic sent a strike to the left of the Atalanta goalkeeper.
The team of Stefano Colantuono seemed to emerge and take courage, but in the 42nd minute, the former Liverpool player Aquilani cut the legs out from under them, concluding masterfully in a free kick from outside the area.
He got it over the wall and scored on the near side to the right of Consigli, who did not have time to move. This saw the Artemio Franchi Stadium send out a roar for the go-ahead goal.
Shortly thereafter, a significant moment for the final result of the match took place. Atalanta midfielder Luca Cigarini took down Juan Cuadrado as he went toward goal. The professional foul was worthy of a straight red.
In the third minute of first half injury time, Aquilani scored his second of the game making it 3–1 for the Viola.
Toni concluded the scoring very early in the second half with a trademark header off an assist from the game’s protagonist Aquilani. The goal was Toni’s fourth of the season.
The fourth goal took the life out of Atalanta. Demoralized and outnumbered, it seemed they realized there’s no way back. The players wearing white jerseys with blue and black trim often resorted to fouls and finished the game with four yellow cards to Fiorentina’s one.
Fiorentina managed the game well. The duo of Valero-Pizarro showed their best in midfield and incursions on the right wing from a lively Cuadrado continued undaunted until the end of the game.
The Moroccan Mounir El Hamdaoui, who subbed on for Toni, looked dangerous and in the 60th minute, he hit the crossbar with a shot from outside the area. In the 87th minute, he had a goal ruled off due to offside.
On the Atalanta side, only the indomitable Denis was the one who left a positive mark, due to the tenacity with which he tried to score.
The Viola made up two points on competitors Juventus, Inter, and Napoli. Fiorentina sit five points back of Juve and one back of Inter for second place and automatic qualification for Champions League next year.
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