Juventus 3-2 Fiorentina
The fixture list was cruel to Fiorentina this evening as Vincenzo Montella's players did show marked improvement following poor performances and three straight defeats in Serie A but were still defeated by top of the table Juventus. The bianconeri were made to wait to clinch the Scudetto though, as Lazio beat now relegated Parma 4-0.
Fiorentina bravely went out to win the game, looking bright from the first minute. Joaquin and Marcos Alonso, playing as wing backs were stretching the Juventus defence but both teams were playing on the counter attack and either could have taken the lead. It was the viola who struck the first blow, with Andrea Pirlo, seemilgly unable to cope with Joaquin's quick footwork, sticking out a leg to trip the Spaniard in the box and conceding a clear penalty. Gonzalo Rodriguez dispatched the penalty with confidence, Gianluigi Buffon diving the right way but was powerless to stop the shot. Minutes later, as Stefano Sturaro was advancing, Norberto Neto came streaming out of his goal and looked to have committed a foul near the corner flag. The referee awarded a free kick and booked the goalkeeper, only for replays to show that Neto never made contact and Sturaro, had in fact, dived. Pirlo delivered a typically perfect ball into the box from the free kick, finding the head of Fernando Llorente who headed home to even the scores.
Both sides continued to have chances in what must have been a perfect game for the neutral but it was Juventus who went in for the break in the lead, thanks to a Carlos Tevez goal on the stroke of half time. Patrice Evra delivered a perfect cross to pick out the Argentine striker, who had completely lost his marker and effortlessly headed home.
The viola came out in the second half and undeterred, continued to press. Mohammed Salah looked bright, but there was unfortunately no end product after some of his mazy runs. Mario Gomez could have been awarded a penalty early on in the second half after his shirt was being pulled by Evra in the box, but it was Joaquin who won the second penalty kick for the Viola on 66 minutes when Giorgio Chiellini clumsily upended the Spaniard. Gonzalo stepped up for a second time but sliced the spot kick horribly wide. Fiorentina were made to pay for the miss as Juventus hit back quickly for the second time. Carlos Tevez beat the offside trap with a perfectly timed run and found himself in acres of space, and finished in typical style.
With two minutes to go, Joaquin and substitute Josip Ilicic lined up a free kick from 25 yards out. The Slovenian unleashed a superb left foot strike that slammed into the top left hand corner. Although a consolation, the final score of 3-2 somehow better reflected how close the game was between the two sides.
On paper, a fourth straight league defeat was terrible for Fiorentina, but not for the first time this season runaway Serie A leaders Juventus have been given a game by the viola. The match must surely serve as a reminder though, that home games against lower opposition such as Cagliari are "must win" and a home game against Cesena on Sunday will also fall into that category. Tonight was a move away from recent abject and lacklustre performances from Montella's side and the team deserve some credit for the improvement. No doubt opinion will be split on whether they went far enough.
Neto 6 Savic 5.5 Gonzalo 6 Basanta 5.5 Alonso 6.5 Badelj 5.5 Aquilani 6 Mati 6.5 Joaquín 7 Salah 6.5 Gomez 5.5 Ilicic Montella 6.5— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) April 29, 2015