Vincenzo Italiano brought Michael Kayode, Josip Brekalo, and Lucas Beltrán into the XI. Claudio Ranieri (who still looks like the world’s coolest nonno) didn’t make any crazy changes to his lineup. The real story was a group of masked and hooded Rossoblu fans marching through downtown and throwing stuff, including smoke bombs, at passersby. Welcome back to Serie A, Cagliari.
The supporters had hardly settled into their seats when NIcolás González opened the scoring. Alfred Duncan spun in a free kick that Nikola Milenković and Beltrán both got touches to before Cagliari goalkeeper Boris Radunović failed t punch it clear, allowing Nico to step up and sweep home his 4th goal of the Serie A campaign.
This being Fiorentina, they nearly threw that lead away immediately: Milenković made a sloppy backpass that Nahitan Nández picked off. The Uruguayan rounded Pietro Terracciano, but Michael Kayode somehow cleared the ball off the line. That woke the hosts up, and the whirling Viola machine—Lucas Martínez Quarta at striker, Nico at leftback, Arthur at centerback—was too much for the visitors to track. They crumbled again, with Alberto Dossena unluckily turning a low Kayode cross into his own net.
Fiorentina clearly maintained the ascendancy after that, although Cagliari did have a couple of mildly threatening counters. González fired a couple of shots just wide and Jack was inches from smashing home a Beltrán knockdown, but the pattern of play was very much one of the Viola dominating proceedings and looking like adding another; they deserved their lead at the break despite only putting a single shot on frame.
Fiorentina repeated the rather alarming routine of coming out very flat after the break, allowing Cagliari to take the wheel. To their credit, the Viola had a couple of decent chances on the break, but they let themselves down with some poor passing and poor defending and nearly paid the price when Chonky Cat cosplayer Andrea Petagna doinked a shot off the crossbar. That seemed to wake the guys up a little and they managed the game pretty well afterwards to walk this home for a relatively simple win, highlighted by a stoppage time strike for M’Bala Nzola. It was the first goal for a Fiorentina center forward this year and it was a really nice one.
Goals: González 3’, Dossena OG 21’, Nzola 90+4 (ass. Mandragora)
Cards: Infantino 86’; Pavoletti 90’+2
Fiorentina finally got their first goal from a center forward after a mere 10 games. Really, though, it was a fantastic, controlled performance; the guys knew they were the better side, took an early lead, and never really looked like relinquishing it, even if there were a couple of very anxious moments in there (Kayode’s save on Nández, Petagna off the woodwork). This is the exact kind of performance you expect from a good team playing a bad one at home.
Also of interest: Fiorentina rocket up to 5th place, jumping past Atalanta, Lecce, and Bologna. Their 15 goals on the season are joint-3rd in Serie A, so despite the struggles from the center forwards, the machine is humming along fine. The focus now turns to Hungarian champions Ferencváros; a win here could see Fiorentina take the top spot in Group F of the Conference League, which would be a quite nice spot to be, especially with a trip to take on Napoli looming on Sunday.