Vincenzo Italiano started the exact lineup I would have, keeping Ricky Sottil wide left and bringing in Nico Gonzalez to play on the right-wing. Youssef Maleh got the nod over Alfred Duncan in midfield.
Siniša Mihajlović started a largely expected lineup, with the only surprises occurring at wingback. Lorenzo Di Silvestri (how is he still playing) and Mitchell Dijks started over Andreas Skov Olsen and Aaron Hickey, respectively.
The Viola came out firing, dominating the early possession while not creating many chances. Still, it was obvious to see that this was a motivated Fiorentina looking to jump Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the table. They got their reward in the 33rd minute when Nico Gonzalez whipped a beautiful ball back post to Youssef Maleh, who easily nodded the ball home for his first Serie A goal.
It took Bologna just nine minutes to respond, as Musa Barrow struck a gorgeous volley on his weak foot to even the match. Some shades of Tim Cahill in 2014 with that one.
Gonzalez drew a foul on the outside of the box, and Cristiano Biraghi struck a beauty of a free-kick to regain the lead for the Viola. I’ve been wondering why Dušan isn’t on all of our freekicks because Biraghi’s been pretty horrible at them for as long as I watched him. Today, he showed me up.
To make things even better for Fiorentina, Gonzalez drew a penalty that Dušan slotted home for his 13th goal of the season, putting him two ahead of Ciro Immobile for the capocannoniere. Aaron Hickey made the ending nervous by scoring in the 83rd minute, but the Viola defense held on and won a crucial three points.
Goals: Maleh 33’ (ass. Gonzalez), Barrow 42’ (ass. Svanberg), Biraghi 51’, Vlahović 67’ (pen.), Hickey 83’ (ass. Orsolini)
Cards: Dominguez 24’, Torreira 25’, Theate 50’, Milenkovic 64’, Amrabat 90’, Soumaoro 90+4’
The Viola take 5th place in the table, which will only be passed if Juventus beat Genoa by multiple goals tonight. The most important news is that they pass Jose Mourinho’s Roma, who alongside Lazio look to be our biggest competition for Europe next season. Fiorentina host Salerntiana next weekend, which is as guaranteed of a three points as you’ll find on a fixture list. Should the Viola take care of business at the Franchi, winnable matches against Sassuolo and Verona await before the Christmas break.
Bologna is still in a fine position, in ninth place. They play Torino, Juventus, and Sassuolo before the winter break, from which they should be able to win at least three points and still be in European contention.