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Sivasspor 1-4 Fiorentina: Match report and highlights

There were some bumps along the way, but the Viola eventually proved that they were simply the better team on the day.

Demir Grup Sivasspor v Fiorentina - UEFA Europa Conference League Photo by Sercan Kucuksahin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


Neither manager sprung any lineup surprises, as Luca Ranieri was the only leftback available for Fiorentina. The real story was in the stands, where Sivasspor fans packed the New 4 Eylül Stadium after the club made tickets available for free. It was a tense, noisy atmosphere, particularly for the three dozen or so Fiorentina fans who made the trip.

Also of note: the pitch was an absolute catastrophe, the type that would make a lot of Sunday League teams complain, much less a tournament semifinal. It was patchier than a 13-year-old’s first mustache and provided a steady stream of weird bounces, divots, and general mayhem.

First half

The visitors looked like the stronger side, keeping the ball and occasionally creating half chances. Both teams mostly resorted to thumping it long, given the state of the turf, and the only shots were from long range. Jordy Caicedo and Erdoğan Yeşilyurt tried in the first 10 minutes for the hosts, while Giacomo Bonaventura, Nicolás González, and Lucas Martínez Quarta all trying their luck. Rolando Mandragora got away with an off-ball elbow on Hakan Arslan, but the Viola didn’t get away with failing to close Yeşilyurt down: the German-born winger cut inside and curled in a beauty, sending the stadium into raptures.

Boosted by the goal and a pulsating atmosphere, Sivasspor seemed to get a little more control for a few minutes, but Fiorentina eventually battled back. LMQ went on a mazy run from the back all the way into the box before going down (he should’ve been booked for a dive at the end, frankly), so it was his countryman who had to make the goal. González won the ball high up, drove into the box, played a 1-2 with Jack, and poked a shot at Ali Vural that the goalkeeper could only parry into the path of an onrushing Arthur Cabral, who made no mistake and equalized just before the break, putting Fiorentina into the lead on aggregate.

Second half

Calmed by Cabral’s equalizer, the visitors pinged the ball around as well as they could across the agricultural pitch and were soon rewarded, albeit from a corner. Nikola Milenković proved too dang big and headed home to take the lead in the game and settle the tie, firing Fiorentina in the quarterfinals.

Sivasspor went for it, bringing on two more strikers and a winger, but it quickly became clear that the Yigidos just didn’t have the necessary quality, looking more likely to be caught out at their own end than anything else. Indeed, Jonathan Ikoné produced one of his magical runs, beating 2 defenders and squaring. Vural somehow let the ball dribble through his legs but somehow recovered and scrambled it clear ahead of the lurking Arthur, denying the Viola their insurance goal. It arrived, though, in gut-wrenching fashion: the otherwise excellent Dimitrios Goutas lost track of where his goalkeeper was and headed back into his own net.

Now fully aware that they were cooked, Sivasspor’s desperation boiled over when captain Hakan Arslan needlessly kicked out at Mandragora, who had, in fairness, gotten away with a cheap shot on him earlier. Referee Nikola Dabanović had no choice but to send him down the tunnel, leaving Sivasspor down 2 goals and a player. It was over, and Gaetano Castrovilli’s late goal served as emphatic punctuation, nothing more.

Things really took a turn, as a Sivasspor fan ran onto the field and struck Alessandro Bianco in the face, leaving the youngster with a bloody nose before security subdued him and dragged him off. The Yigidos, apparently upset about something in the exchange, tried to escalate things, leading to some tense moments in stoppage time. When the game finally ended, it seemed like a mercy that nobody else had gotten hurt.

Full time

Goals: Yeşilyurt 35’ (ass. Cofie); Cabral 44’, Milenković 62’ (ass. Mandragora), Goutas OG 78’, Castrovilli 89’

Cards: Goutas 63’, Arslan red card 81’, Yeşilyurt 90’+2; Martínez Quarta 65’, Milenković 90’+2

What’s next

Fiorentina are into the quarterfinals in style after a 5-1 aggregate win. That’s worth celebrating, so I’m ending the paragraph here so you can do some of that.

Anyways, the draw will be tomorrow at 2:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST. Gent and Lech Poznań are also through so far, but the second slate of games just started so we’ll have to wait to see who the other potential opponents are. Whoever it is, though, LMQ will be suspended for the first leg after picking up his 3rd booking of the Conference League campaign. The first leg will be on 13 April and the second on 20 April (purple bong, anyone?).

It also marks Cabral’s 5th goal in the Conference League, 12th overall, and 8th in his last 8 appearances. He’s cooking. Castrovilli’s goal, on the other hand, was his first for Fiorentina in 459 days. It’s so good to see him back and growing in confidence, along with the rest of the team. These guys really seem like they believe, and why shouldn’t they?