The jury that has been out since Monday night has finally made its decision, and it has now ruled in favor of Vincenzo Montella. The Fiorentina head coach made 9 changes against Hellas Verona earlier this week in order to prepare and rest his best players for this quarterfinal second leg against Dynamo Kyiv. All 10 starting outfield players changed tonight against visiting Dynamo Kyiv, with the Viola eager to return to a European semifinal.
Fiorentina jumped on Dynamo right at the beginning, with a venomous Joaquin cross nearly finding Mario Gomez sliding in at the back post after only 2 minutes. The same Gomez tapped in from a mistake from keeper Shovkovsky on a Borja Valero strike, but was correctly whistled for offside. Joaquin, working against Domagoj Vida on the left side of the attack, was in flying form and teed up Marcos Alonso only a couple minutes later. The Spanish connection failed to reward the left back however, who struck the crossbar with a brilliant strike. Just after the 10 minute mark, another Borja Valero strike deflected narrowly wide of the far post, and it was hard to believe that Fiorentina hadn't yet made their supremacy count on the scoreboard. The return of David Pizarro to the lineup was especially important to the home side, with the Viola totally dominating the ball in the first 20 minutes.
This guy pic.twitter.com/O9GUReVLF2— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) April 23, 2015
Gomez had two more chances in quick succession as the game started slow down a touch, first doing well to beat his man and get a left footed effort away only to be denied by a fine save from Shovkovsky, then glancing a header wide from a couple yards out when maybe he could have left the ball fall to Gonzalo Rodriguez at the backdoor. At this point Dynamo Kyiv were finally able to hold the ball for a bit, and attempted to slow the game down, only to have the game change again when the referee rather brashly sent off Jeremaine Lens. The Dutch international winger blatantly dove, and was already on a yellow card, but it was early in the game and the referee had not spoken with him about diving at all. Regardless, on 40' Lens was sent down the tunnel, and the visitors had to find a way to score in 10 men. The Viola were finally cynical in their next attack, when Joaquin was again the creator, drilling a ball again to Gomez, who bundled the ball across the line. The lead was a just reward for a half where the Viola outshot their opponents 11 (7) - 1 (0).
Montella set out his team unchanged, and they picked up largely from the same place. Mohammed Salah, not the main man today but still electric, ghosted past his man on the end line in trademark fashion, cutting inside and shooting only to be denied by a clumsy block that sent the ball off the post and out. Matias Fernandez was the next to come close, the Viola high press creating problems for Dynamo and the ball coming to him on the edge of the box, but his placed sidefooted effort whistled wide.
With only about 10 minutes to play and Dynamo Kyiv still not creating much, Montella made a couple substitutions and inexplicably the Viola lost a bit of focus, allowing a couple dangerous breaks to Dynamo, primarily through the impressive Yarmolenko. It was only after Dynamo's best chance of the game in the 3rd minute of stoppage was stuffed by the combined tackles of Gonzalo and Stefan Savic that Fiorentina were able to put the tie to bed. An outlet ball fell to substitute Juan Manuel Vargas, who turned his man well, and, in honor of Throwback Thursday, El Loco powered to the end line and finished emphatically with his left foot. The team mobbed him in a comical fashion, with Gomez appearing to want to give the Peruvian a noogie, as the stadium was able to gratefully exhale and celebrate the Viola entering the Europa League semifinals.
Fiorentina will face one of Napoli, Sevilla, and Dnipro in a two-legged semifinal. The draw will take place tomorrow at 12 p.m. Central European Time (6 a.m. Eastern Time), please join me below the line for that. But for now, WOOOOOOOO FORZA VIOLA RAGAZZI!
Fiorentina 2 - Dynamo Kyiv 0 (Gomez 43', Vargas 90'+4)
Neto 6.5 Tomović 6 Gonzalo 6.5 Savić 6.5 Alonso 6.5 Mati 6.5 Pizarro 7 Borja 6.5 Salah 7 Gomez 7 Joaquín 7 Montella 7 #forzaviola— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) April 23, 2015