Vincenzo Italiano, facing a dearth of wingers, changed shape to an unfamiliar 3-4-2-1, using Luca Ranieri, Maxime Lopez, Antonín Barák, and Lucas Beltrán. Thiago Motta chopped and changed his defense, opting for Łukasz Skorupski between the sticks and Sam Beukema in the middle in place of Federico Ravaglia and Riccardo Calafiori, respectively.
Fiorentina caused Bologna some trouble with a very interesting press that featured Jonathan Ikoné operating as the striker, with Beltrán dropping to the left wing and Barák helping clog the middle. When the Felsinei broke through, though, they created some problems, mostly via Joshua Zirkzee. The Dutchman just plain missed a simple pass when he was all alone 8 yards from goal, letting the ball run under his foot, and then left Nikola Milenković for dead with a turn before clipping the bar with a left-footed effort. For a side missing so many starters, including most of the wingers, though, the Viola really weren’t that far off the running.
Bologna came out the second half as if shot from a cannon, constantly threatening down Fiorentina’s left, highlighted by Riccardo Orsolini driving a shot off the upright. Oliver Christensen made a couple good stops, especially on Lewis Ferguson and Zirkzee, but the Viola eventually started to offer the occasional threat on the break. Lucas Beltrán was forced off after smashing his nose off Jhon Lucumí and M’Bala Nzola missed a couple glances at goal, but it was Lucas Martínez Quarta who had a couple decent looks, nearly snatching it at the death but heading straight at Łukasz Skorupski.
It was close on both ends. Christensen stepped up and made some big saves on Zirkzee and especially 1-v-1 with Orsolini, while LMQ and Milenković scuffed good chances and Michael Kayode got a free header all wrong from close range. There was a bit of everything as Yerry Mina fully grabbed Zirkzee’s nipple as soon as he came on and nearly twisted it right off, but penalties felt like a reasonable conclusion to tense match.
Ferguson: tucked it into the corner
Mandragora: absolutely leathered it into the back of the net
Zirkzee: almost casually placed it into the bottom corner
Arthur: waited for Skorupski to dive then put it down the middle
Orsolini: banged it home
Milenković: stared down Skorupski then trickled it into the bottom corner
Calafiori: squeezed it just under Christensen, who got a touch to it
Mina: perfectly placed it in the top corner then danced
Posch: fizzed it over the bar
Lopez: squeezed it inside the post and now it’s time to celebrate
La #Fiorentina vince ai rigori contro il #Bologna e vola in semifinale di Coppa Italia. Il gruppo di Vincenzo Italiano festeggia così, sotto la Curva Fiesole, dopo il rigore decisivo di Lopez. In semifinale contro la vincente di #MilanAtalanta. #FiorentinaBologna pic.twitter.com/YVVKGfXhmj— Matteo Dovellini (@MatteoDovellini) January 9, 2024
Goals: No, somehow
Cards: Bonaventura 116’; Ferguson 88’, Saelemaekers 109’
It’s a hell of a gutsy performance from Fiorentina to advance despite missing so many attackers that Italiano had to try out a new formation entirely, losing another forward along the way. It required a healthy dose of luck and a lot of suffering, but sometimes that’s how you survive, and nobody can say the Viola don’t deserve to be here after a second consecutive perfect penalty shootout in the Coppa. They’ll face whichever of AC Milan and Atalanta escapes from tomorrow’s matchup.
Fiorentina now gets a whole five days before hosting a struggling Udinese side before jetting halfway across the world for the Supercoppa in Saudi Arabia. Nico González should be back for the latter, at least, but Beltrán took a shot to the face and had to come off, which could indicate a concussion or a broken nose; all in all, the cupboard is somehow even more bare of attackers now, so Italiano will have to remain very creative to keep things ticking over.