Fiorentina are in crisis after a shock home defeat to bottom of the table minnows Lecce.
Delio Rossi faced his former club and urged the Viola to start “a whole new season” with a positive result. It was a mixed week leading up to this game, as the Tuscans crushed Novara 3-0 and were beaten by the same score in the Coppa Italia at Roma. Houssine Kharja is on Africa Cup of Nations duty, while Per Kroldrup, Khouma Babacar and Santiago Silva were unavailable, so the ‘no-striker’ 3-5-2 system was used again. Lecce were propping up the table and in dire straits, not to mention an injury crisis. Manuel Giandonato, Rodney Strasser, Andrea Bertolacci and the suspended Massimo Oddo were out. Djamel Mesbah was dropped ahead of next week’s transfer to Milan.
Juan Cuadrado forced Artur Boruc into a difficult save at the base of the near post, but then picked up a shoulder injury and received treatment throughout the first half.
It took a long while for Fiorentina to create a decent opportunity. On 34 minutes Riccardo Montolivo’s snapshot stung Massimo Benassi’s palms from distance.
Adem Ljajic trapped a Valon Behrami chipped pass and took it round the goalkeeper, but then stumbled under pressure from Nenad Tomovic and couldn’t tap in to an empty net.
Just before the break Boruc flew to palm a curling Ruben Olivera right-foot effort out of the far top corner, as Lecce threatened an upset in Florence.
The Viola were disappointing, so Andrea Lazzari replaced Amidu Salifu for the second half. A Juan Manuel Vargas free kick whistled past the post, but at the other end Olivera sprung the offside trap from a free kick only to hesitate and allow Boruc to cut him off, wasting a golden opportunity.
Ljajic was running on to an inspired Stevan Jovetic assist from the left when Benassi came tearing off his line to block. It was a particularly brave intervention and the goalkeeper got a nasty cut with suspected fractured nose for his trouble.
The referee awarded a penalty to Lecce when Cesare Natali was too slow in the tackle on Luis Muriel sprinting into the box. Veteran David Di Michele cheekily chipped his spot-kick to surprise Boruc and give the visitors a shock lead at the Stadio Franchi.
Vargas avoided a red card, as when falling in a tussle with Cuadrado he lashed out to kick the Lecce man in the face, but the referee and assistants did not spot the incident.
Natali’s header whistled just wide with Alessandro Gamberini unable to get the final deflection at the back stick. Julio Sergio also smothered a Jovetic long-range attempt, but Fiorentina did far too little to make a difference in this match.
The Viola ended the game with 10 men, as Natali was stretchered off in stoppages after all the substitutions had been completed.