Neither manager sprung any big surprises, unless you consider Vincenzo Italiano making just 3 changes a surprise. The real news was probably from the stands, where the Fiorentina fans were in simply incredible form for the last home match of 2022 (because, as always, this World Cup is the stupidest one ever). One of those fans was VN’s own Mike McCormack, who watched from the Tribuna.
Fiorentina came out and pretty well dominated things, pinning Salernitana back and never really allowing them to build anything going forward. For the second game in a row, the goal came after a quarter of an hour via Giacomo Bonaventura, following some interplay between Dodô and Jonathan Ikoné down the right; Jack’s rebirth into a 10 who makes late runs into the box has changed this team immensely, and goals like this are the evidence.
Salernitana sort of responded, at least venturing up the pitch a bit and hitting in a few crosses, but the Viola never seemed too worried aside from one that Tonny Vilhena headed well over after outleaping the diminutive Dodô at the back stick. Indeed, it was the hosts who threatened more, with Ikoné and Christian Kouamé again combining for the former to tee up the latter in front of an open goal after declining to shoot, but Chris’s shot was saved by Luigi Sepe. From there on, Fiorentina were back in the driver’s seat, and when the halftime whistle blew, it felt like they more than deserved their lead.
Fiorentina looked as in control as ever and created a number of chances, which Cabral and Kouamé wasted, but it didn’t look like they’d be made to pay, given their dominance. However, a quick counterattack caught the Viola napping, allowing Boulaye Dia and Krzysztof Piątek to play a 1-2 to put the Senegal striker in behind, where he finished past Pietro Terracciano. It was really poor from Nikola Milenković and the rest of the team in general, given that it was the first (and only) shot the Ippocampi put on frame all night.
[ed. note: Still looking for the video but will add it as soon as I can find it]
The Viola looked shocked but quickly regained their equilibrium, putting their guests under constant pressure but never quite getting the final ball right. Kouamé, Ikoné, Cabral, Mandragora, and Bonaventura all messed up really promising chances, and it was starting to feel a little bit desperate until Riccardo Saponara found Luka Jović with an exquisite little pass, allowing the striker to pivot and finish past Sepe to restore the lead.
While it looked offside initially, a quick VAR check found that Ikoné’s run dragged Ivan Radovanović back, keeping Jović in play, and the Serbian’s celebration was perfect: a leap over the advertising boards to celebrate in front of the Curva Fiesole, this time without cupping his hands to his ears. As you can see, the ultras seem to have accepted his apology.
A stunned Salernitana never really mounted a comeback; indeed, it was Jović and his fellow substitutes who looked most like adding another one. Aleksa Terzić was a force down the left, Antonín Barák produced some lovely touches, and Alfred Duncan just steamrolled everyone in front of him. When the triple blast sounded, it was greeted by a jubilant Italiano, who knew his side fully deserved its victory.
Goals: Bonaventura 15’ (ass. Ikoné), Jović 81’ (ass. Saponara); Dia 55’ (ass. Piątek)
Cards: Radovanović 90’+4
Fiorentina have now won 5 straight and 3 straight in Serie A. You can feel the momentum building, although you worry that with a trip to AC Milan looming and then a 2-month layoff for the World Cup (the stupidest thing imaginable), those good vibes could be sheared off and leave the team struggling when things resume in January.
More importantly, though, Fiorentina have risen another place in the table, leapfrogging the Ippocampi, and now sit 10th with 19 points from 14 games. During their win streak, they’ve scored 11 goals and conceded just 3, indicating that the defense is getting back on track and that the attack is finally figuring things out. Maybe, just maybe, the European aspirations for next year aren’t over. Maybe, just maybe.