It was hardly perfect. Cagliari failed to convert at least three gilt-edged opportunities in front of their supporters, and Zeman stressed how "even his grandmother would have scored." But Fiorentina were regardless well worth an emphatic victory in Sardinia, with outstanding performances by Joaquin and Matias Fernandez leading the way.
The game promised to be an open one, and the opening minutes did not disappoint, with an electric tempo from the opening whistle. Vincenzo Montella once again trusted the 3-5-2, but it was a fairly attacking variant that deployed a lively Joaquin wide right with Juan Cuadrado in the center. Fiorentina struggled to break down the signature Zdenek Zeman high press, but sporadically created chances, especially from set pieces. Cagliari also brought the "timber" in the first half, repeatedly hacking both Cuadrado and Borja Valero in the opening quarter. Matias Fernandez's opener got things really going though; it was a peach of a free kick that whistled past both an onrushing Gonzalo Rodriguez and young Fiesole-born Cagliari keeper Alessio Cragno. Cagliari were immediately close to an equalizer on a couple of occasions that were defused by an attentive Norberto Neto who swept most of the Sardi's throughball attempts. Victor Ibarbo had a glorious chance 1 v 1 with the same Neto during Cagliari's best spell of the match, but dragged wide with the Fiorentina keeper beaten, and the teams went to the locker room with the visitors leading by a goal.
Cagliari began the second half looking the better of the two sides and pushing for an equalizer. They found joy on the Fiorentina left patrolled by Marcos Alonso and Jose Maria Basanta, and forced a point blank save from Neto and then a nearly-incredible block on the line from Stefan Savic in the opening ten minutes of the second half. But Cagliari's more determined attacking intent backfired something tremendous in the second half, with Fiorentina resuming their own high press and winning the ball high up the pitch for the second goal. Basanta won the ball and laid off to Mario Gomez, who - author of a mediocre performance on the whole - laid off to the inspired Mati, who hammered home a daisy cutter from 20 yards out. From there the rout was on, as Cagliari fell apart. Gomez blazed over an incredible counterattacking chance before being set through on the break again by Joaquin and sidefooting home his first competitive goal in 8 months. There was even time for a Cuadrado "poker" on the break, but we were all too busy pushing the button.
All things considered, some big individual performances carried Fiorentina to victory away in Cagliari, and more will be needed to get a result when Juventus come to town on Friday. But it was regardless a morale boosting win for both the team and the Fiorentina faithful. The team once again displayed its collective talent and the Serie A table still looks wide open despite our sluggish start. So, if the margin of victory was in small part due to a bit of good fortune going la Viola's way, no one could say we aren't due for a bit of luck. Let's hope the ball keeps bouncing our direction against Juve.
Neto 7, Savić 7.5, Gonzalo 6, Basanta 6, Joaquín 7, Mati 8, Pizarro 6.5, Borja 7, Alonso 6-, Cuadrado 6.5, Gomez 6.5, Montella 7