Stevan Jovetic bagged a brace as Fiorentina crushed Palermo 3-0 at the Stadio Barbera to catch Inter in third place.
The Viola got back on track last week by ending a run of two points from three rounds, crushing local rivals Siena 4-1. They also won away to Udinese in order to reach the Coppa Italia Quarter-Finals. Palermo, meanwhile, scraped one point from their last three and hoped to make the most of home advantage. Andrea Mantovani and Abel Hernandez are long-term absentees for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, but Fiorentina had Facundo Roncaglia and Ruben Olivera banned. Luca Toni and Fabrizio Miccoli both faced their former teams.
Curiously, this fixture hasn’t ended in a stalemate since a 1-1 in March 2007, followed by three home wins and two for the Tuscans.
Toni saw his effort deflected wide from a corner after just 40 seconds, then a fingertip save turned Stevan Jovetic’s angled drive inches past the far post. Samir Ujkani pushed another Jovetic effort on to the side-netting and Manuel Pasqual blasted wide from the edge of the box.
Ujkani stuck out a hand to deny Borja Valero and Toni had a good chance when latching on to a long Nenad Tomovic ball that surprised Santiago Garcia, but Ujkani came tearing out to smother the shot from point-blank range.
Fiorentina finally broke the deadlock after the restart. Juan Cuadrado prodded a through ball with the outside of his boot to send Jovetic clear and the Montenegrin kept his right-foot angled drive true.
Gonzalo Rodriguez nodded over from a Borja Valero free kick, but Massimo Donati was penalised for holding back Toni by the neck. It was a penalty and Jovetic took responsibility, showing his cool with a lovely chipped spot-kick.
Ujkani also parried from Toni at the base of the near post, but Fiorentina got their third when Michel Morganella handled in the box for a Gonzalo Rodriguez penalty. It seemed harsh, as Morganella was trying to protect his face from point-blank range on a Mati Fernandez cross.