Somebody obviously didn't give Mohammed Salah a copy of the script as he tore apart Juventus in their own backyard. And, once again, the workrate of the whole team took Fiorentina across the finish line to take an unthinkable 2-1 away victory home for the second leg.
The first half was a pulsating, high tempo affair. In the opening minutes, Fiorentina had their backs to the wall, Arturo Vidal wasting a great chance after just two minutes. Undeterred, Fiorentina forged ahead, determined to get a foothold in the game, with Marcos Alonso playing a perfect crossfield ball to find Jasmin Kurtic, who couldn’t hit the target on just seven minutes. The breathtaking breakthrough goal came via man of the moment Mohammed Salah, who made a lung-busting 60 yard solo run, leaving the Juventus defense for dead with his blistering pace. He capped the acceleration with an inch perfect left footed shot which flew into the top corner and sent the viola fans into dreamland.
The lead was to last just twelve minutes as Fernando Llorente rose superbly to meet Simone Pepe’s right hand cross, his header bouncing off the far post and over the line. Fiorentina didn’t let their heads drop and carried on undeterred. Mati Fernandez’ powerful strike troubled Marco Storari on the half hour mark, and the resulting well-worked corner was somehow headed just wide by Jose Maria Basanta only feet from goal. Juventus were seemingly worried enough by Fiorentina’s performance to bring on Carlos Tevez for Kingsley Coman on just 37 minutes, although the youngster was bothered by injury after a Jasmin Kurtic foul.
Neto 6.5 Richards 7 Gonzalo 7.5 Basanta 7 Alonso 6.5 Kurtić 6 Badelj 7.5 Mati 7 Joaquín 7 Gomez 6 Montella 7.5 Salah pic.twitter.com/3M97Xwz3ja— SALAH NATION (@Viola_Nation) March 5, 2015
Playing away at the Juventus stadium, Fiorentina could have been forgiven for shutting up shop for the draw in the second half but no. Vincenzo Montella clearly had a game plan and the team had enough self-belief to carry out his mission. Early in the second half, Micah Richards - played in by Mati - forced a good save from Storari. La viola looked like they were the team at the top of Serie A as they controlled possession and had long spells of sharp passing and neat interplay around the 18 yard box. On 56 minutes, the out of sorts Claudio Marchisio was caught in possession by Joaquin. Salah pounced onto the loose ball and slotted home again with another cool finish. The Egyptian just can’t stop scoring! Norberto Neto was called into action just afterwards, making an excellent save from a Tevez strike and managed to hang onto the ball to thwart an advancing Vidal.
Fiorentina controlled the game from this moment on with some well organised, excellent defending to take an invaluable 2-1 lead into the second leg in Florence on 7th April. The team and the manager deserve so much credit for playing without fear and for having faith in their own style of football in what was a perfect away performance. A feeling of invincibility shines through from the players at the moment who are producing heroic displays, even against tough opposition. The whole team are looking like they are enjoying their football, and the form of Salah really is the icing on the cake. The euphoria from tonight will certainly perpetuate Fiorentina's confidence, as they take on their next victim – Lazio on Monday evening. These are great times to be a Fiorentina fan – FORZA RAGAZZI!
If you'd told me in October we were going to beat Tottenham, Inter away, and Juve away in a week w/o Cuadrado I'd have laughed in your face— SALAH NATION (@Viola_Nation) March 5, 2015