Fiorentina came into stormy Rome this evening in seventh place in the league, without a win on the road in 2013 and with everything hanging in the balance. La Viola left Rome with a huge 2-0 win, with goals from forwards Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic sitting in 4th place, only 3 back of AC Milan and 5 points back of Napoli.
The match was played on a water logged pitch and frequently in a deluge, but Fiorentina shrugged off the conditions as easily as they shrugged off the hosts physical and bruising style of play, held the ball for long stretches of time and capitalized on their chances, while the defense and particularly goalie Emiliano Viviano made big plays to keep Lazio off the board.
Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella, in what has seemed like a weekly event, had to juggle his lineup yet again, as Alberto Aquilani was unavailable due to yellow card accumulation. Mounir El Hamdaoui was not in the roster as well, due to an injury.
Juan Cuadrado was back from suspension however, and lined up next to Jovetic and Ljajic up front in a 4-3-3 formation. Giulio Migliaccio filled in for Aquilani on the right of the midfield, with David Pizarro and Borja Valero.
In front of Viviano, the Little Airplane slotted in Nenad Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Stefan Savic and Manuel Pasqual.
Lazio Coach Vladimir Petković, fresh off a very big 2-0 win in Stuttgart in the Europa League, put out a 4-1-4-1 in front of goalie Federico Marchetti, with a back line of Bruno Pereirinha, Lorik Cana, André Dias and Stefan Radu.
Cristian Ledesma played a defensive midfielder role, while Ederson, Alvaro González, Hernanes and Senad Lulic were the attacking midfield. Sergio Floccari was the lone attacker.
The first ten minutes of the match was very sloppy as both squads tried to get their feet under them and get used to the soggy pitch. It wasn't until the 11th minute that Lazio got the first shot of the match off, a header wide from Cana.
3 minutes later, Fiorentina got off their first shot, a strong attempt from deep outside the box from Cuadrado that, unfortunately, went straight to the Lazio keeper. Ljajic got off another shot from way out, but was way off the mark.
5 minutes later, however, Jovetic made no mistake as Ljajic served a ball across the top of the box, Valero made a dummy move that suckered all three defenders and left the Viola forward wide open and he placed it into the corner of the net with the side of his foot.
The next 5 minutes, Fiorentina continued to press forward, with Jovetic getting off another shot that was blocked on the way in.
Lazio then began to respond, causing Fiorentina fans to began to feel like another let up might be in progress, as La Viola had done repeatedly in the past few weeks.
Lazio got off the next five shots, but Viviano saved the only two that were on net and the first half ended with Fiorentina ahead by a goal.
Lazio changed things up a bit at the half, taking off Ederson for Libor Kozak, but it did little to change the outcome as Jovetic got off another blocked shot and then was taken down by Cana.
Ljajic stepped up to the free kick and let off a masterful shot into the corner of the net and the match was virtually over.
Lazio came back and tried to get something started, but Viviano came up large on a couple of shots, totaling 6 saves for the match and La Viola held the ball in the Lazio end for long stretches of time and Fiorentina saw off the match.
Viviano(7.5)- my man of the match. 6 saves, at least 3 of them fairly spectacular, keeping the clean sheet on the road in a huge match with huge implications with very slick conditions.
Tomovic(6)- held his side well. had a few bobbles early, but tightened it up later. good match
Rodriguez(6.5)- seemed like he won every header that came his way.
Savic(6.5)- same as Rodriguez, won lots of header, he was instrumental.
Pasqual(6)- played defense more than he has for quite a while, and not surprisingly Viola won. Was a bit ragged early, only 4 of 6 crosses unsuccessful this time.
Migliaccio(6.5)- played great on defense and played a big part in the possession of the second half.
Pizarro(6.5)- had a rough first 15 minutes, with two balls given up and a horrible cross out of bounds, but settled down and had his normal great match.
Valero(7)- played his normal outstanding match. controlling the ball, an outstanding dummy move and hooking up with Jovetic and Ljajic; Sissoko(NA)- had a few good moves
Ljajic(7.5)- outstanding free kick for Ljajic and the assist on the other goal. subbed for Llama in what had to be a slightly defensive move ;Llama(5.5)- very Pasqual-like on his one cross, but hooked up well with Valero and Pasqual on his side
Jovetic(7)- great shot, hooked up well with Valero and Ljajic, but disappeared a bit in the second half
Cuadrado(7)- really an integral part of this offense, his runs and ball skills frequently leave defenders and midfielders in his wake or cause them to foul and accumulate yellow cards. subbed late for Romulo; Romulo(NA)-
Montella(7)- had the team ready, put out the right lineup, brought the team out in the second half and doubled the lead. The team is right where it needs to be going down the stretch. it's all there to play for.
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. (Players receiving yellow cards in this match have an *)
Jovetic (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Pasqual (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Savic (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Tomovic (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Valero (3) - one game suspension on the next card.
Romulo (1) *
Former Viola's come to town next week as Sebastien Frey, Juan Manuel Vargas and Mattai Cassani come back to the Franchi in a bug match for both squads. Genoa are only two points above relegation and Fiorentina are only 3 points from a Champions League spot.
Sunday, March 17 10:00 ET Fiorentina v Genoa
Saturday, March 30 10:00 ET Cagliari v Fiorentina
Sunday, April 7 9:00 ET Fiorentina v AC Milan
Sunday, April 14 9:00 ET Atalanta v Fiorentina
Sunday, April 21 9:00 ET Fiorentina v Torino
Sunday, April 28 9:00 ET Sampdoria v Fiorentina
"The team played with maturity and character in a difficult arena after four consecutive away defeats. The thing I liked most was the mentality, approach and interpretation we gave to the match."
"The first half was particularly strong and we took advantage of Lazio’s fatigue after the break, but throughout we had the initiative and basically controlled the game.
"The table is very tight and we could finish third or seventh. This result makes us a little more optimistic, but it’s still a tough road and we have to realize the sacrifices it took to get this win so that it can add to our experience."
"We were worried before kick-off with all that rain, but the pitch held out very well. We were under pressure towards the end of the first half when Lazio fought back, but we were able to hold out and keep going.
"Lazio have been solid throughout the campaign, but Fiorentina showed the same level of maturity as Lazio and we should treasure this experience. Our ambitions are high and we deserve to be challenging for these positions."
Stevan Jovetic celebrated his opening goal by pointing to his crotch and Montella revealed why.
"Before the game I told the players that more than anything else they needed balls. I should remember to point that out before every match if this is the result!
"We are under construction, but are still happy with the way we are going. You either have temperament or you don’t and some players have more than others. Over the season Fiorentina have shown they have character and ambition, such as our victory away to Milan.
"We had a few slip-ups, but these things can happen in a season."
Former Roma player Montella has fond memories of March 10, as 11 years ago today he scored four goals past Lazio.
"The joy of a Coach probably ends tomorrow, whereas a player keeps hold of it and enjoys it forever. I’m still enjoying those four goals!"