Vincenzo Italiano made 6 changes to the outfield that looked so woeful at Venezia: Lucas Martínez Quarta, Lorenzo Venuti, Lucas Torreira, Youssef Maleh, Riccardo Saponara, and Nicolás González all stepped in. The real change, though, was the return of the Curva for the first time in two years. The atmosphere was raucous and joyful, although you had to wonder how the ultras would greet Dušan Vlahović.
Saponara set the tone early, forcing Alessio Cragno to palm away a 50-yard lob after just 30 seconds. While Cagliari had a couple of chances in the first 7 minutes, it pretty quickly became one-way traffic. The first goal came from an absurdly soft handball call from referee Antonio Rapuano, but the real interest came after the lengthy VAR review: Vlahović explained that he “wasn’t feeling” the penalty, so Cristiano Biraghi took it and made no mistake, slotting home the spot kick for his first of the year.
The dominance continued as González headed narrowly wide a couple of times, Maleh fizzed an effort just off frame, and Saponara hit the upright with a gorgeous curler that made time stand still.
Vlahović eventually played in a streaking Ricky with a brilliant touch. The Cheese, 1-v-1 with Cragno, instead squared it for Nico to tap into the empty net.
Even then, the Viola weren’t done attacking, as the lively Vlahović and Maleh kept churning forward and looking for the third.
Fiorentina came out firing again. González jetted inside and won a free kick just outside the box, and Vlahović stepped up and curled home a sensational effort that left the crowd nonplussed. No mistake, though, it was a real banger.
The Viola put it on cruise control after that and still looked the more likely side to score. The only real highlight was the return of Gaetano Castrovilli, who made a brief cameo after missing the past month with a scary injury.
Goals: Biraghi PK 21’, González 42’ (ass. Saponara), Vlahović 49’
Cards: Baldé 20’, Marin 48’
This definitely washes out the bad taste of the Venezia game a bit, although let’s remember that Cagliari look about as woeful as any team in Serie A. We might have a better indication of where this team’s at on Wednesday, when they travel to Lazio for a rare mid-week fixture against an Aquile side that just got shelled 4-1 by Hellas Verona, with Giovanni Simeone scoring a poker.