With Saponara out injured again and Gil Dias out long term, Cyril Thereau came into the game against looking to get one over his former employers. Benassi was back in his unfamiliar attacking role with Federico Chiesa supporting Giovanni Simeone. Laurini also, got the nod ahead of Bruno Gaspar at right back as Pioli looked to stick with 4-2-3-1.
The first chance of the match came to the hosts. After a great ball in from Jordan Veretout, Benassi nodded across goal to the waiting Simeone whose header had little power and was easily saved by Albano Bizzarri. The Argentine really should have been more clinical as the Viola searched for the opener.
All of the Fiorentina’s attacking play was coming down the left. Biraghi whipped in a delicious ball which was met by the head of Simeone who couldn’t get a good enough contact towards goal.
On 22 minutes Fiorentina had the ball in the back of the net. However, Davide Astori’s goals was correctly given offside. From a great Veretout free kick, the Viola captain volleyed homemade but, his run far too early and was an easy call for the officials.
Minutes later Fiorentina came so close to taking the lead. A superb through ball set Thereau on his way towards goal. Udinese keeper Bizzarri came racing out to meet him but horribly mistimed his run. Thereau from a very tight angle turned past the keeper and shot into an what seemed an empty net but Gabriele Angella came to his keeper's rescue to clear it off the line with a bit of help from the post.
On 28 minutes Fiorentina's pressure had finally taken its toll. Chiesa cutting inside floated a ball to Giovanni Simone who inadvertently headed it across goal, to guess who? Former Udinese player, Cyril Thereau who simply couldn't miss from six yards out.
To sum up, how one-sided the half was, it took until the 42nd minute for Udinese to have their first attempt on goal, which was hopelessly wide.
Fiorentina were in cruise control and somehow didn't make it 2-0 on the half-hour mark. Simeone was sent clean through on goal by Marco Benassi, the Argentine smashed it towards Bizzarri’s right-hand corner, but was denied by the post. It was starting to look like it wasn't going to be his day in front of goal.
Despite the first half domination it was only 1-0 and Rodrigo de Paul almost scored an equaliser five minutes into the half. Marco Sportiello who had been a spectator was called into action for the first time. He had to dive to his right and save well to deny De Paul’s strike from range.
Ten minutes into the second half, Fiorentina doubled their lead. After some fantastic play from Jordan Veretout who did brilliantly to keep the ball in play, turned defense into attack. The Frenchman charged down up the field towards goal. His shot was parried straight towards that man Thereau again. A gift for the former Udinese man who slotted it past Bizzarri who really should have done better to clear the original shot.
Udinese thought they had a route back into the game Maxi Lopez was sent through on goal but unselfishly played it to De Paul who passed into an empty net to make it 2-1. Or so they thought, after further inspection Maxi Lopez was just offside and after consulting with the officials it was ruled out. VAR is a fantastic new system, isn’t it?
Udinese were much improved in the second half, pressing high up to try and catch Fiorentina out. The away side’s pressure had counted. After a whipped ball in by De Paul, Samir finished well inside the area. It was worrying signs for the home side who were coasting to victory it seemed.
Fiorentina however, reacted well. A great cross-field ball by Biraghi to Chiesa whose shot from a tight angle needed saving by Bizzarri. From the following corner, Vitor Hugo who was brought on to shore up the defense should have scored. His free header in the six-yard box was blocked in what was his first touch of the game.
Udinese were pressing for that equalising goal and could have got if weren't for German Pezzella who brilliantly headed clear. Fiorentina had almost given up on attacking with additions of Carlos Sanchez and Vitor Hugo, Pioli was very much parking the bus.
The home side just managed to hold on as they had everyone behind the ball. Udinese just didn't have enough time to get back into the game. A much needed victory for Fiorentina.
It feels like so long ago since Fiorentina got a win in Serie A and for the majority of the first half it was a cakewalk. Fiorentina were brilliant in the first half but the only negative was the fact that it was only 1-0 going into the half. The second half was a different story. Udinese pressed and brought on further attacking players including former Fiorentina player Ryder Matos. Cyril Thereau played as if he had a point to prove and finished his chances brilliantly. Special mention to Benassi who had a brilliant game in midfield. Pioli’s decision to go ultra defensive was questionable, to say the least. While it worked Fiorentina looked very shaky and allowed Udinese to come back into the game
Marco Sportiello: 6.5- Didn't put a foot wrong made a great save to De Paul. Also very nice to see a keeper who likes to play it out from the back.
Vincent Laurini: 6- Solid performance for the for majority of the game was untroubled.
German Pezzella: 6- Was rarely tested throughout the game.
Davide Astori: 6- Had the ball in the back of the net but should have defended better for the Udinese goal.
Cristiano Biraghi: 7- Played well going both ways. Could have got an assist with a brilliant delivery to Simeone.
Milan Badelj: 6- Typical Badelj performance, adds the defensive stability to the midfield.
Jordan Veretout: 7- Was a constant threat from set pieces. Did brilliantly for the second goal which sealed the game.
Marco Benassi: 7- By far his best performance this season. Played some key passes and was brilliant on the ball
Federico Chiesa: 6- Not his usual brilliant self. Looked tired towards the end of the game and was brought off.
Cyril Thereau: 8- It seemed as if it was meant to be for him to score against his former club and finished twice expertly.
Giovanni Simeone: 6- Really wasn’t his day. Wouldn't be surprised to see Babacar been given a chance.
Vitor Hugo: 6- Almost scored with his first touch and slotted into the defense well.
Valentin Eysseric: 5- gave the ball away a bit too much but given the lack of any attacking players in front of him he was very isolated we’ll let him off.
Carlos Sanchez: 6 Was brought on too add more defensive presence in midfield and did his job