During this international break, it’s easy to forget that there’s still calcio being played. Fortunately, Fiorentina Women’s gave us the perfect reminder on Saturday as the met Juventus in Spezia for the Supercoppa and ran out 1-0 winners behind a goal from (who else?) Ilaria Mauro.
The Viola reached the Supercoppa by winning last year’s Coppa Italia, although a slightly down season by their lofty standards saw them finish third behind winners Juve and runners up Brescia. However, good runs through the domestic and European cup campaigns prevented the year from being a total loss, and also set them up to take their revenge on the Bianconere this weekend for a 0-3 loss in the league a couple weeks ago.
The Viola started out much the stronger side, probing the Juve defense and finding space in behind. The first chance came through striker Lana Clelland, who spent much of the game drifting wide and pulling the Juve defense out of shape. Inside 10 minutes, the Scottish international blasted one from distance that nearly beat Laura Giuliani. Moments later, the striker timed her run perfectly to meet a through ball from Liliana Kostova down the right wing, then hit a low cross in that Mauro couldn’t quite turn goalwards on the front post. However, the most exciting moment shortly after, as Giuliani came off her line to clear a through ball that Mauro was chasing down and skewed her clearance along the carpet to Tatiana Bonetti, whose audacious lob slipped just wide of the open net.
Juve grew into the match, though, and began pushing Fiorentina into their own half. First, Eniola Aluko found space to let fly from distance, although Stéphanie Öhrström looked to have it covered the whole way. The same can’t be said of a looping try from Cristiana Girelli, who rose to meet a deep cross from Barbara Bonansea with her head, leaving Öhrström rooted to the spot, but the ball doinked off the crossbar and out of danger. When the whistle blew for the half, a scoreless draw seemed a fair reflection of the play thus far, which was more tense than open.
Juventus opened it up after the half, though, as they had a hatful of chances in the first 10 minutes. First, Öhrström made a brilliant close-range kick-save on Girelli to deny the opener, but nearly threw away her excellent work when a mixup in defense saw her and Alice Parisi bundle into each other and spill a cross, which Alia Guagni cleared right back to Valentina Cernoia on the wing. Cernoia made space by cutting inside and hammering one on frame, but Öhrström stood firm and beat the attempt away.
Just after the hour, when it seemed that all the pressure from the Old Lady would surely pay off, Fiorentina broke at pace. Clelland tracked down a long pass down the left and, after leaving 87-time Finland international rightback Tuija Hyyrynen for dead with a lethal first step, lanced a low ball across the face of goal that was just out of the reach of Giuliani, who stretched out for it but couldn’t get a hand to the ball. That meant that it squirted through to the back post, where Ilaria Mauro had arrived at pace to sidefoot home the winner unopposed before peeling off for a joyous celebration which saw Clelland accidentally smack Bonetti in the face as she leapt onto the pile.
The goal seemed to take all the wind out of Juve’s sails; Antonio Cicotta ordered his team to sit deep and soak up pressure, and that’s exactly what they did, stonewalling every move that their opponents put together for the remainder of the match. The closest Juventus came to a goal was from another deep cross that Öhrström parried nearly into the path of Arianna Caruso, but the Swede regathered the ball before anything bad could happen. When the triple blast signalled the end of the match, the Viola were worthy winners of their first-ever Supercoppa.