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Estudiantes 0 - FIORENTINA 1

A confident Fiorentina side defeated the hosts with a professional performance buoyed by a Mario Gomez goal and some young talent.

Montella is getting things right in preseason so far. Photo
Montella is getting things right in preseason so far. Photo
Gabriele Maltinti

Mario Gomez scored the only goal of the game in a surprisingly hard-fought friendly in La Plata. Fiorentina opened their first match in the Copa EuroAmericana by being the better side in the first half, but faded visibly in the second as Estudiantes' superior fitness came into play. Despite their inability to create play as the game went on, la Viola looked very solid defensively and had the best chance of the second half.

Cristiano Piccini was the live wire early on for la Viola on his right side of Vincenzo Montella's 3-5-2, with an early low ball not quite reaching Gomez. Rafa Wolski was then dangerous drifting into space on the other side, turning nicely to find Federico Bernardeschi in plenty of space who scuffed his volley. The breakthrough came in the 28th minute, with Wolski winning the ball and finding Borja Valero, who fed Bernardeschi in space. The young Italian then split the defense cleverly to release Mario Gomez, who took his finish very coolly one against one against the Estudiantes keeper. After the goal Estudiantes looked for a reaction, but were unable to seriously threaten the goal of Ciprian Tatarusanu except when he looked a little shaky on a couple high crosses. Facundo Roncaglia was in fine form in the heart of the defense before having to leave the field due to injury early in the second half. Bernardeschi and Wolski were again protagonists in a beautiful one-touch move with Gomez on the right, but the final return pass to Gomez was cut out.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Here&#39;s a detailed animation illustrating how Fiorentina fans feel about Mario Gomez looking fit and confident <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) <a href="">July 26, 2014</a></blockquote>

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In the second half Fiorentina were unable to find a similar verve, with much of the time spent withstanding unfocused but insistent waves of Estudiantes pressure. Gonzalo Rodriguez had an excellent game in a return to Argentina, and was called upon to make several aerial challenges, as well as clear the ball of the line after some uncertain set piece defending. Tatarusanu had to come up with an excellent save after Piccini was outpaced on his wing for the first time all game, while Joshua Brillante and Gonzalo obtained bookings after poorly timed challenges outside the box. Despite his yellow card, however, the 21-year-old Australian was again impressive stationed in front of the Fiorentina defense. Brillante demonstrated himself to be disciplined, calm on the ball, and tireless as he played the full 90 minutes. Fiorentina had the best chance in the finale of the game, as Khouma Babacar (a second half substitute for Bernardeschi) did some excellent work to free Matias Vecino (subbed on for Wolski), who then did well to go past the keeper but then struck the post squarely with his finish. Montella will certainly be pleased with the attitude of his team and the first half performance, and can now look forward to continue tinkering when Fiorentina face Palmeiras in Sao Paolo this week. My top performers (in order): Gonzalo, Gomez, Brillante, Roncaglia.

Estudiantes 0, FIORENTINA 1 (Mario Gomez, 28')

Player Ratings:

Tatarusanu 5.5; Roncaglia 6.5 (Tomovic 6), Gonzalo 7, Marcos Alonso 5.5; Piccini 6, Wolski 6.5 (Vecino 6), Brillante (6.5), Borja Valero 6 (Matias Fernandez 6), Vargas 6 (Pasqual 6); Bernardeschi 6.5 (Babacar 6.5), Gomez (6.5); Montella 7.