Another week, another productive Fiorentina friendly to whet our appetites for the coming season. La Viola were fairly comfortable in the first half, in part thanks to an early goal thanks from the ever-clinical Giuseppe Rossi, who turned home the first real chance of the game. David Pizarro - who was in flying form for most of the first half - found Rossi who served Mario Gomez in the box. Gomez tried to turn but was forced back by the Malaga defense, with the ball popping out to Rossi who dribbled one and then cooly finished low at Memo Ochoa's back post. While they created few other goal scoring opportunities until doubling their lead, the Fiorentina ball movement was elegantly in mid-season form for the first 45 minutes, and Malaga were hard pressed to muster any resistance.
Gonzalo Rodriguez was the man to put the game to bed, costumed on the day as Zorro/Batman/*insert joke here* with a protective mask across his eyes. Fiorentina took a corner short and the usual Borja Valero whipped a ball into the six yard box which Bomber Gonzalo beat Ochoa to. Gonzalo's lofted header seemed to take an age to come down, but when it did, it was in the back of the net. Two goals behind midway through the first half, Malaga mustered some energy and produced a couple uncertain chances, forcing a smart save from Neto and then whistling a long range volley over the bar, but the Spaniards were unable to move the ball fast enough to expose the Fiorentina defense. Facundo Roncaglia in particular impressed battling against sustained pressure down his flank.
The second half started with a bang as Malaga missed their two best chances of the game in quick succession. A free kick whipped in found a free head, but the header zipped over Neto's bar, and then soon after Roque Santa Cruz set through a fellow attacker with a delightful flick, but the attempted finish was wide of both the onrushing Fiorentina keeper and the goal. Fiorentina were able to retain the ball after this spell and slow the tempo a bit, although it was clear that the week's practices, the travel, and the in-process fitness was taking its toll. Soon after this stretch of play the rafts of substitutions began for both sides, well and truly killing the game off. Each side had a chance apiece, with Iakovenko found neatly in the box by an otherwise imprecise Marcos Alonso; the Ukrainian drilled his finish off a defender however, and the game petered out on the same scoreline.
Fiorentina therefore have won their first ever Costa del Sol Unesco Trophy! Naturally they tried to put Pepito into the comically large cup:
Neto 6.5; Roncaglia 6.5, Gonzalo 7, Savic 5.5, Alonso 5.5; Aquilani 6, Pizarro 7, Borja 6.5; Ilicic 6.5; Gomez 6, Rossi 6.5; Montella 7. MOTM Gonzalo
Vargas, Pasqual, Iakovenko, Mancini, Vecino, Joaquín, Lazzari http://t.co/t6MuJez3GQ— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) August 10, 2014
All in all, the friendlies continue to produce encouraging results and performances from a group that is coming together nicely (especially when reflecting on last season's friendlies... Yeesh). Get excited for Betis, um, TOMORROW! Forza viola amici!