Despite a few fears that the match would be postponed due to the torrential rain, the game was allowed to proceed. Despite some unpleasantness between some visiting fans and the local authorities, the atmosphere was generally quite positive, even with Vincenzo Italiano opting for Matija Nastasić at the back.
Fiorentina scored after literally 60 seconds. Sottil flicked the ball to Cristiano Biraghi, whose inch-perfect cross found the noggin of a towering Nicolás González, and the winger’s header left Twente goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall helpless. It was quite the reintroduction to the European stage for the Viola.
Gol de Nico González— Pollo (@ThomasZelazko) August 18, 2022
Vs. Twente por el repechaje de la Conference League. pic.twitter.com/4MDXofzVjd
Fiorentina didn’t let off at all, creating a host of chances and never letting the visitors out of their own half, unleashing a fearsome press that left them penned in. Sottil was the clear dangerman, constantly getting in behind or beating his man, while Biraghi, González, and Arthur Cabral also sparkled. It was the latter who added the second after half an hour, sliding home a lovely Sottil cross. It was a move that would’ve brought a tear to Italiano’s eye: starting with Pietro Terracciano, moving to Biraghi, then to Sottil, then to Cabral, in about 10 seconds and 8 touches. Simply stunning.
The Viola didn’t let off there, either, and kept pushing for another one. Cabral continued to impress with his physicality and Twente were probably thrilled to get into the dressing room only down two goals. It was as dominant a 45 minutes as you’ll see.
As good as Fiorentina were in the first half, they were just as bad in the second, sitting off, slowing the pace, and allowing Twente back into the game; it felt a lot like how they played against Cremonese in that regard, and that’s not a great memory. While they created few real chances, they controlled territory and possession, leaving the Viola aimlessly thumping the ball upfield, resetting, and then doing it again. Even so, the goal felt a bit unjust, as Vaclav Cérny certainly looked offside; however, there wasn’t any VAR in this match, so Italiano and company had no recourse.
Fiorentina sort of, kind of responded, but didn’t really create much of anything else, managing two very tame shots after the break. It felt like both teams were perfectly happy to plan for a trip to Enschede with this scoreline.
Goals: González 2’ (ass. Biraghi), Cabral 31’ (ass. Sottil); Cérny 64’ (ass. Smal)
Cards: Milenković 39’, Amrabat 90’+1, Maleh 90’+5; Smal 33’, Pröpper 55’, Vlap 62’, Cérny 70’
Despite the win, this feels like a missed opportunity. Had Fiorentina remained aggressive and grabbed another goal, they could’ve ended this tie, taking all the pressure off themselves in the return leg. Instead, they’ve got a harrowing bunch of games to look forward to: at Empoli for the Derby dell’Arno on Sunday, the long trip to Enschede for the away leg on Thursday, the long trip down to attacking juggernaut Napoli the Sunday after, Udinese at the Franchi on Wednesday, and then Juventus on Sunday. It’s a gauntlet of matches that could’ve been much easier with a decisive victory here. Oh well.