Heiko Vogel left just 2 players from the side that got shelled 6-1 by Saint Gallen at the weekend. Vincenzo Italiano opted for something like his first XI. While the hosts provided an impressive tifo before kickoff, it was the visiting support that drowned out the Swiss fans.
Spettacolo al St.Jakob Park di Basilea. Le coreografie delle due tifoserie di #Basilea e #Fiorentina in una gara che svelerà una finalista di #ConferenceLeague. Bellissimo #BaselFiorentina @rep_firenze pic.twitter.com/kl7YyQLQwJ— Matteo Dovellini (@MatteoDovellini) May 18, 2023
It was a shambolic start from Fiorentina, constantly misplacing passes and allowing Basel to roar forward on the counter with their pacy attackers, particularly Dan Ndoye and Zeki Amdouni. The Viola were completely unable to get anything going and were probably lucky not to get done on the break. After the first 20 minutes or so, though, they got a hand on the wheel. And then Nicolás González flashed through the box to open the scoring with a header from a corner. Smash, meet grab. Here is another video if this one’s blocked.
Nico González leapt highest! ⚡ pic.twitter.com/r41JiRaZ18— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 18, 2023
That woke Fiorentina right up, and they dominated the rest of the half. Giacomo Bonaventura forced a couple of excellent saves out of Marwin Hitz while Nico, Gaetano Castrovilli, Cristiano Biraghi, and Dodô all looked dangerous. With the score tied on aggregate, it felt like the visitors had all the momentum heading into the break.
The second half picked up about where the first started, with Jack and Arthur Cabral nearly linking up for another, but 10 minutes in, disaster struck. Andy Pelmard floated a free kick over the top to Amdouni. Igor looked to have the striker corralled but slipped in the box and the Switzerland international took advantage, finishing past Pietro Terracciano to retake the lead on aggregate with his team’s first shot on target. Alternate video here.
Zeki Amdouni haunts Fiorentina again with a sharp finish. pic.twitter.com/QF3yeTZBYM— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 18, 2023
Instead of giving up, though, Fiorentina kept turning the screws. Jack put a lovely Cristiano Biraghi ball just over and Castrovilli missed a wonderful opportunity to play in González or Ikoné, but Nico’d had enough and lashed home after the Basel defense failed to clear Dodô cross, restoring parity. Alternate video here.
NICO GONZALEZ GETS HIS BRACE TO GIVE FIORENTINA LIFE. pic.twitter.com/3DIsbb5fqs— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 18, 2023
The Viola kept looking for the winner, with Bonaventura’s failure to finish becoming almost comical while Nikola Milenković also headed narrowly over from a corner. On we went to extra time inside a very, very tense stadium.
Luka Jović replaced Arthur Cabral at the start of the period and should have settled it twice: once with a free back post header that Hitz saved, and once by airmailing his shot from 5 yards out and nobody near him. He’s a slug. Jack and Nico also had chances, but it felt like Basel was playing for penalties. There was a lengthy delay just after the restart as a Fiorentina fan had a medical emergency, leading to a lengthy delay while medical personnel addressed the situation (last we heard, the fan had been transported to the hospital).
Just as we were getting ready for spot kicks, though, Antonín Barák (or Baratch) called game. González crossed and Jović headed it back across goal, where Ikoné got in the defender’s way and let the ball drop for Barák, who swept home and ripped off his shirt to celebrate as the whole team erupted in joy.
The Swiss side looked as if it knew the game was up, and Jović got through 1-v-1 in the final moments with a chance to put it to bed but shot off the post (he’s a slug). It ultimately didn’t matter, though, as Fiorentina came from behind in the most dramatic fashion imaginable.
Goals: Amdouni 55’ (ass. Pelmard); González 35’ (ass. Biraghi) 72’, Barák 120’+9
Cards: Burger 90’; Igor 21’, Ranieri 59’, González 89’, Italiano 97’, Bonaventura 103’, Barák 120’+10
Fiorentina are in two finals. Let that sink in for a moment. Two finals. Our plucky bunch of beautiful, flawed, perfect boys have scrapped their way to two finals after not reaching a single one since 2014. Unreal.
The Viola will face West Ham United in Prague on 7 June 2023 for the chance to keep the Conference League trophy in Italy after AS Roma won it last year. That makes Fiorentina the first team to ever reach the final of 4 European continental competitions: the Champions League, the Europa/UEFA League, the Cup Winners’ Cup, and now the Conference League.
Along the way, Biraghi also took the competition lead in assists with 6, giving Fiorentina both 2nd-ranked scorers and the top assister. Don’t expect Torino to care much, though, when the Viola roll into town on Sunday for a rather meaningless Serie A game; it means even less with Inter Milan and the Coppa Italia final waiting on Wednesday. These boys have done something magical this year and they’re so close to finishing it out. I couldn’t be happier or prouder.