Fiorentina 2-0 Lazio; Singing In The Rain

Gabriele Maltinti

Once again, officiating decisions mar what would've been a great match up between two Serie A teams near the top of the table, but this time, fortunately for Fiorentina fans, it's the other team that is at the wrong end of the decisions as Lazio see an equalizer taken away and suffer the loss of two players to cards.


The Lazio goal was be all accounts wrongly taken away, as Mauri was clearly onside, while the cards were fully deserved, in everyone's opinion but the smarmy British beIN sports announcers who covered the match.

Fiorentina had very little sympathy for Lazio as La Viola had started the match without two starters, David Pizzaro and Newcomer sensation Facundo Roncaglia, who missed the match due to questionable yellow cards last week.

Nevertheless, two great goals by Ljajic and Luca Toni insured the Viola all three points and moved them to 15 points and 5th place, one point ahead of AS Roma who lost at home to Udinese.

Recap
With the suspension of the two starters, Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella had to make a few changes to his lineup. He kept the same formation in front of Emiliano Viviano, but moved Nenad Tomovic into Roncaglia's spot, leaving Gonzalo Rodriguez in the center and brought in Stevan Savic out on the left.

The midfield consisted of now regular starting Juan Cuadrado, but Ruben Olivera slotted in next to him, while Matias Fernandez took Pizarro's spot. Borja Valero and Manuel Pasqual took up their normal positions while Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic lined up up front.

Lazio came in fresh off a 1-1 Europa League tie midweek and were missing Ederson, Marius Stankevicius, Federico Marchetti and the suspended Giuseppe Sculli, but had Miroslav Klose back in the lineup as the lone striker in a 1-3-2-4 formation.

Behind Klose was Antonio Candreva, Hernanes and Stefano Mauri in the attacking midfield, while Alvaro González and Cristian Ledesma played as defensive midfielders. Abdoulay Konko, Giuseppe Biava, André Dias and Senad Lulic lined up as defenders in front of back up goalie Albano Bizarri.

Mauro Bergonzi had the unfortunate distinction of leading the officiating squad for this match and a tough night it would be for the whole group.

The night started out lively enough for Lazio as they got the first shot off at the 4 minute mark, but Candreva failed to find the net and shot it wide. Gonzalez followed it up with a header over the net 7 minutes later.

Fiorentina then took over as Lazio only managed one more shot all half.

Valero got off a shot at the 17 minute mark that Bizarri had to save, two minutes later Ljajic earned a free kick just outside the box and Pasqual shot to the corner in the 20th minute which required another amazing save. The goalie's momentum took him face first into the pole and things look bleak for Lazio, but Bizarri managed to shake off the pain and stay in the match.

In quick succession, Pasqual had another shot blocked and Cuadrado missed a shot and then Pasqual was served a ball and as he drove into the zone, Konko slid across and made contact with his feet. Pasqual didn't appear to make any effort to avoid the contact but the foul was called and Fiorentina were granted a penalty kick.

Jovetic, the #1 PK taker offered the penalty to Fernandez, who stepped up and fired a strong shot, but it hit the post and rebounded right back to the penalty taker who made contact with the ball, which then slid to Ljajic who put it in the back of the net. The goal was disallowed, however, as the penalty taker cannot be the first to touch the ball in Serie A.

Almost immediately after the miss, as it happens so often, Lazio seemed energized by the miss and struck right back at Fiorentina as Mauri got the ball on a strong drive and sent the ball into the corner but Viviano was there to save La Viola.

As the match went into the last 15 minutes of the half, Jovetic got a long shot off, but it was saved and Ljajic missed a shot wide. RIght before the half, however, Jovetic got the ball to Ljajic, who moved to the side a bit and fired a rocket to the upper corner which Bizzari had no chance at and Fiorentina went to the locker room with a one goal lead.

Fiorentina had dominated the first half with 60% possession, out shooting Lazio 7 to 3, with 3 shots on goal to Lazio's 1 shot on goal. Viola led 3 corners to none.

The second half started out strongly enough for Fiorentina, with Adem Ljajic getting two shots off that required saves in the first 5 minutes, but then Lazio began to put on the pressure and the match began to be played all in Fiorentina's end of the field.

In the 51st minute, Candreva got a nice ball from Klose, but could only head it to the center of the goal where Viviano was waiting. Four minutes later, Klose got open and got off a shot, but shanked it wide.

Jovetic got the ball back the next minute on a counter but was only able to shoot it wide. Hernanes came right back and got a shot blocked on the way through.

Sensing that momentum had shifted and that Fiorentina was being beat in the middle of the field, Montella brought in Migliaccio for Fernandez, and La Viola began to reassert their domination from that point forward.

Hernanes got another shot off, but it was from far out and sailed way over the net.

Montella made another tactical change at that point, bringing on Luca Toni for Ljajic. It only took 4 minutes for Luca to get involved as he got a shot off but it was over the net.

Three minutes after that Juan Cuadrado took the ball and darted down the field, causing Ledesma to lunge at him with studs up, making no contact with the ball and lots of contact with the Fiorentina player. It proved to be a rash choice as he had already been carded for an intentional hand ball, the second yellow sent Lazio to ten men and spelled the end of Lazio as an offensive force in the match.

Hernanes rashly took Cuadrado down from behind with both legs up 8 minutes later and it was all over but the celebrating.

Montella then brought on his last substitution, as Alberto Aquilani was brought on for Cuadrado and immediately make his presence felt as he sent a ball into Luca Toni, deep in the Lazio box and Toni put the icing on the cake with a spinning, lasher from the middle of the box and Fior closed it out.

Fiorentina finished with 55% possession, out shot Lazio 16 to 2, with 8 shots on net to Lazio's 2.

Fiorentina will go on to travel to Genoa on Thursday while Lazio host Torino on Wednesday.

Report Cards
Viviano(6) - Only called on for 2 saves, but other than the called back goal, he was there for every Lazio chance.
Tomovic(6) - Moved over to Roncaglia's side and did very well.
Rodriguez(6.5) -Took on Klose and held him quiet for much of the match. slow start to the second half, but no goal.
Savic(6) - Solid game against good opponents, He was beaten on two occasions, once by Klose who shanked it and the second by Mauri who had the goal called back, but all in all very good for a second string player in his second match.
Cuadrado(7) - Best player in midfield again. Always dangerous, even on a wet field. Taken down roughly by Hernanes and stepped while he was down (an accident), so he was subbed off for Aquilani as a precaution; Aquilani(6.5) - two games under his belt and an assist in each match.
Olivera(5.5) - Not a bad first half, when Fiorentina owned most of the possession, but the second half he was a liability. gave away balls, committed bad fouls.
Fernandez(5) - Started off well enough, but after the missed penalty he seemed to lose something and wasn't a factor. In the second half he was invisible. Migliaccio came on after an hour; Migliaccio(6) - After he comes on, Fior began to reassert themselves and became dangerous again.
Valero(6.5) - Communicated well with Pasqual and Jovetic on the right side, what control of the ball Fior had was largely through him.
Pasqual(6) - Hooked up well with Valero on his side, earned a penalty, although it was a bit weak, had a free kick spot on and made the goalie make an amazing save, but his crosses were absolute crap once again. he really needs to work on his service.
Ljajic(7) - Finally I'm able to sing praises for Adem Ljajic. He was decisive, made great choices and his shot was an absolute screamer. Got tired later on and was subbed for Toni ; Toni(6.5) - Looked like the Toni of old, nearly got on a header that was an inch too high and got the second goal on a spinning kick.
Jovetic(6) - Got the assist on Ljajic's goal, but was unable to do much else, granted, he had Lazio players all over him all match. Perhaps the two goals scored by other players might do something to free him up.

Montella(6.5) - Had the team ready, had the right lineup out there, even Olivera contributed early. All three substitutes made a difference.

Quotes
Vincenzo Montella:
"I don't think our complaints about referees last week influenced today's decisions. We only noted something and did not go over the line. These are incidents that can happen. They often happen the other way and we do not protest.

"Today Adem Ljajic had a great game. He has enormous talent and just needs to keep maturing. He has to prove this quality throughout the season."

"This is a great victory against a very strong team. Around five or six minutes into the second half, we suffered too much under Lazio's pressure. We have to figure out why we went so deep.

"You could read it the other way, of course, which is that the team remained solid and then finished off the win in the later stages."

"Jovetic remains the first choice penalty taker, but today he was generous and left it to Fernandez. It was a matter of centimetres, so these things can happen.

"I was most impressed by Olivera, because I tried him in front of the defence and he is showing great versatility."

Vladimir Petkovic:
"We gifted them the first half and could not get hold of the game because Fiorentina were very aggressive and pushed high up the field. We were not at 100 per cent."

"In the second half we dominated until the decisions went against us. The goal was not offside, clearly. I am told there might also have been a penalty for a Juan Cuadrado handling offense, but I don't know.

"There were also some yellow cards that I did not understand. In any case, these are not alibis, as we should've done better.

"We must not diminish the credit owed to Fiorentina for their performance, as they were much more attacking and deserved the victory. Had it not been for these incidents then they might've deserved it even more."

Yellow Card Situation
Disqualification of one game after the 4th, 8th, 12th, 15th and the 17th yellow card.
Past 17, every yellow card is equivalent to a one-match ban.

Pizarro (4) - Next suspension at 8 cards.
Roncaglia (4) - Next suspension at 8 cards.
Jovetic (3) - will be assessed a one game suspension on his next card.
Tomovic (3) - will be assessed a one game suspension on his next card.
Cuadrado (2)
Ljajic (2)
Olivera (2)
Rodriguez (2)
Fernandez (1)
Toni (1)
Migliaccio (1)
Pasqual (1)

Looking Ahead
Midweek match on Thursday at Genoa. Pizzaro and Roncaglia will be back in the fold. With Luca Toni and Adem Ljajic both scoring today, Montella has an interesting choice next to Jovetic, although, perhaps, a platoon situation between the two would be a good situation. Another big question will be if Aquilani is ready to start. Genoa are in the bottom half of the table and it's another good chance for Fior to get their first road win. Old friend Sebastien Frey will try to stop that from happening.

Thursday, November 1 3:45 ET Genoa v Fiorentina
Sunday, November 4 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Cagliari
Sunday, November 11 9:00 ET AC Milan v Fiorentina
Sunday, November 18 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Atalanta
Sunday, November 25 9:00 ET Torino v Fiorentina

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