Fiorentina have one foot in the Europa League knockouts after beating Pandurii 3-0, including stunning Joaquin and Ryder Matos solo efforts.
As Dnipro won 2-0 away to Pacos Ferreira this evening, the Tuscans need just two points from the remaining three games to qualify.
The Viola were still buzzing after fighting back from 2-0 down to beat Juventus 4-2 on Sunday, though hat-trick hero Giuseppe Rossi, Alberto Aquilani, Manuel Pasqual, Juan Cuadrado and Stefan Savic were rested. Massimo Ambrosini and Mario Gomez have injuries, while David Pizarro sat out a ban. Fiorentina were aiming to keep their 100 per cent record in Europa League Group E and hosted Romanians Pandurii.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off after the death of former Fiorentina President Lorenzo Righetti, who was at the helm from 1986 to 1990.
The game started with a huge scare for the home crowd, as Eric’s snapshot was deflected on to the crossbar with Neto beaten. Soon after, Neto had to palm a Bogdan Ungurusan effort round the base of the near post.
Joaquin put Fiorentina in front with a fantastic solo effort. He gathered with his back to goal, spun round to dribble past two defenders and go round the goalkeeper before passing into the empty net.
Olexandr Yakovenko’s shot was charged down, but it was Ryder Matos who got his second goal of the Europa League so far. The 20-year-old Brazilian won back possession down the left, burst into the box and seemed to be stopped by Razvan Stanca, but got back on his feet and smartly prodded in with the outside of his boot.
The Romanians made two substitutions at half-time, as Marcos Alonso blasted over, while Arin Buleica drilled wide from distance and Nenad Tomovic did well to charge down from Eric Pereira.
Cuadrado came off the bench and added to the scoreline, as he was sent clear down the right by Yakovenko and the powerful angled drive went in despite Stanca getting something on it.
Alberto Aquilani also entered the fray and immediately set up Yakovenko, but the Ukrainian’s header hit the bar. Mati Fernandez also thought he had scored, but Erico performed a decisive goalline clearance.
Neto caught an audacious Eric Pereira overhead kick and parried a dangerous Buleica attempt that bounced right in front of him, while Mati Fernandez’s free kick grazed the base of the near post. Cuadrado was so unlucky not to make it 4-0 at the death when he ran the entire length of the pitch and lobbed the goalkeeper, but the ball came off the inside of the top corner where crossbar and upright meet.
Fiorentina 3-0 Pandurii
Scorers: Joaquin 26 (F), Matos 34 (F), Cuadrado 69 (F)
Fiorentina: Neto; Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez (Roncaglia 64), Compper, Alonso; Bakic, Borja Valero (Aquilani 73), Mati Fernandez; Joaquin, Matos (Cuadrado 60), Yakovenko
Pandurii: Stanca; Ungurusan, Erico, Christou, Momcilovic; Eric Pereira (Distefano 80), Breeveld, Anton, Dos Santos (Nicoara 46); Ciucur (Buleica 46), Matulevicius
Ref: Zelinka (CZE)
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