It wasn't Fiorentina's first real "test" of the season - that'll come in the next couple weeks - but Gaziantepspor offered a much tougher match than what's generally been seen at Moena this summer. Fiorentina were held scoreless through the first half, as the chippy visiting team pressed, harried, and defended smartly against a home eleven still building up their stamina. The usual stars managed to stand out however, with Borja Valero forcing a miraculous save out of opposing keeper Karcemarskas and Mario Gomez hitting the post from a tight angle. Giuseppe Rossi and Massimo Ambrosini also impressed.
The second half substitutions managed to find answers to the physical play of the Turkish side, moving the ball a bit faster and capitalizing on defensive mistakes. Alberto Aquilani made an emphatic season debut, wearing the captain's armband in the second half and scoring the opener from close range after Adem Ljajic's shot was blocked in front of the visiting goal. Ambrosini added the second shortly after with a powerful header off of a Ljajic set piece.
Gaziantepspor fought back, winning a penalty after a poor shoulder barge from the otherwise electric Marcos Alonso. The 2-1 scoreline did not shake the makeshift Fiorentina XI, however, who responded strongly through Ljajic and Juan Cuadrado. Ljajic tricked his way into a beautiful give and go with Alonso for the Viola's third goal, and before being substituted Gomez fell victim to an awful challenge that resulted in a second booking for a Gaziantepspor defender. The fourth goal came courtesy of Cuadrado's lovely assist to a more comfortable Vecino (aided by some clumsy defending), who stroked the ball home from inside the box.
It was gratifying to see Fiorentina stay confident and stylish in the face of a more physically gifted and disciplined opponent, and to see this side comfortably grind out a result despite rotation and fitness issues. But the real topic of conversation after the match remained the Adem Ljajic soap opera. The 21 year old Serbian - clear man of the match today, with two assists and a goal - was talked of greatly during the week as a question mark in the transfer market, and received a personal visit from Andrea Della Valle. Despite the personal attention however, his contract is yet to be renewed, and there are now confirmations of a (low) offer from Milan. To cap it all, this afternoon the well-known mercato expert Di Marzio reported that Ljajic has allegedly changed agent, trading Fali Ramadani for his former agent Mladen Furtula.
What this news means is, as of now, unclear. But it has become quite clear this summer that despite the additions of stars like Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi, Adem Ljajic isn't done making headlines.