It was good weather for ducks in the Artemio Franchi this evening. Both teams had to get used to the ball stopping in huge puddles on the pitch, as well as referee Luca Banti adopting an 'every man for himself' style of officiating.
But despite the conditions, Fiorentina persevered with their style of play, passing the ball as best they could, which was still pretty well. A first half goal for the home side was only denied by a bit of luck and some indecision in front of goal, as Fiorentina completely dominated the play. Gonzalo Rodriguez saw action at both ends of the pitch, heading away a Samuel Eto’o shot inside the opening two minutes and deserving to add a goal to his tally with an exquisite curled shot that hit the post on 22 minutes. Gonzalo was in action again after his diagonal ball from the corner of the box caused all kinds of problems, although Sampdoria somehow managing to scramble the ball away from Mario Gomez and Jose Maria Basanta. Alessandro Diamanti showed his tenacious spirit, battling for every ball on the rain soaked pitch and almost scored in the first half as well, but an advancing Emiliano Viviano - himself a boyhood Fiorentina fan - managed to force the shot wide.
Sampdoria enjoyed slightly more possession at the start of the second half but Fiorentina still looked to be in control and broke the deadlock on 62 minutes. Alino’s curling right footed shot across the crowded box was unseen by Viviano, in part thanks to Borja Valero who cleverly ducked out of the way as the ball flew into the net. At 1-0, Fiorentina had fully regained their swagger and looked unstoppable. Just two minutes later, Mohammed Salah received the ball from Gomez and never looked back, terrifying the Samp defense with an electrifying burst of pace and finishing at the near post with aplomb. Juan Manuel Vargas, who was about to come on as a substitute had to put his coat back on and sit back down again, much to the amusement of the other substitutes!
Fiorentina could have further added to the scoreline after the goal. Aquilani would have scored if not for his hesitancy in front of goal, and Mati Fernandez blazed over after coming on for Diamanti. Later on Gomez’ hard work in stealing the ball deep in Sampdoria territory should have been rewarded with his 10th goal of the season, but Viviano saved well.
Sampdoria came into the match on the back of four straight wins but Fiorentina are making a habit of making high profile opponents look ordinary. Even when rotated, the players are operating like cogs in a well-oiled machine and with a reliable added burst of genius from Salah, it’s a case of thank you and goodnight from Florence. La Viola now go into their huge Coppa Italia Semi Final with Juventus sitting 4th in Serie A. Having beaten a near rival with such dominance the squad are surely brimming with confidence.
Neto 6 Richards 6+ Gonzalo 6.5 Basanta 6.5 Alonso 6 Aquilani 6.5 Badelj 6.5 Borja 6.5 Diamanti 7 Salah 7.5 Gomez 6.5 Montella 7— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) April 4, 2015Those ratings = team performance
— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) April 4, 2015