Vincenzo Guerini steered Fiorentina to a crucial victory at the Stadio Via del Mare that secures their safety and sends Lecce towards Serie B.
This was a huge relegation dogfight between two clubs desperate for a result. The Salentini were still in the bottom three despite holding Juventus to a draw in Turin midweek, but missed Massimo Oddo, Julio Sergio, Daniele Corvia and the suspended duo Moris Carrozzieri, Luis Muriel and Juan Cuadrado, so Valeri Bojinov faced his former teammates.
The chaotic events of Wednesday night tore Fiorentina apart, as Coach Delio Rossi was sacked after attacking Adem Ljajic in a dugout brawl. Team manager Vincenzo Guerini was promoted to the role of caretaker boss and made his return to a Serie A bench after 14 years. He immediately had to deal with an injury crisis, as Stevan Jovetic, Matija Nastasic, Amauri and Juan Manuel Vargas were sidelined, while Michele Camporese and Andrea Lazzari were only fit for the bench, so Felipe was given his first Viola start for two years (since when he has changed his name to Dal Bello).
The Viola needed only one point to be sure of their Serie A safety and Serse Cosmi wanted a special gift for his birthday. Ruben Olivera just failed to net against his former team, only glancing his header on a Manuel Pasqual cross to the back post.
Lecce should’ve gone in front on 20 minutes when Artur Boruc flapped at a corner, but Leonardo Miglionico’s free header looped over the empty net.
Fiorentina had a fantastic chance soon after, as Pasqual pulled back to the edge of the box for Riccardo Montolivo, whose screamer was well palmed away by Benassi with one hand. The goalkeeper also performed a splendid follow-up save on Pasqual, but he was offside.
The Viola’s injury problems got even worse, as Valon Behrami’s shoulder sprain flared up again and he made way for Marco Marchionni. Alessandro Gamberini charged down a David Di Michele strike.
Mattia Cassani sprung the offside trap from an Olivera backheel flick, but Benassi charged off his line and got just about enough contact on the shot to steer it wide of the far stick.
Alessio Cerci again took advantage of poor defending and an Olivera flick to go clear and this time he got the shot on target, a precise angled drive beating Benassi at the near post. However, there are suspicions of offside.
Cassani went for goal again, feinting a cross as he burst down the right and instead cracking the base of the near post. Bojinov had a great opportunity to equalise just before the break, but fired over from a six yards when surrounded by defenders.
Bojinov sprinted into the box and fell as Boruc rushed out to smother, but received only a telling off from the referee. Replays show he kicked the ball practically out of the goalkeeper’s hands.
Haris Seferovic came on for the second half, a young striker on loan from Fiorentina. Di Michele’s free kick was flicked on by Gennaro Delvecchio’s heel, forcing Boruc to palm it round the base of the near post. From the resulting corner Boruc came out to no man’s land, but Lecce were unlucky to see Andrea Esposito’s header ricochet off the crossbar.
More bad news for Fiorentina, who also lost Montolivo to a suspected thigh strain to make way for Lazzari. Boruc smothered a Di Michele snapshot and Seferovic nodded over from eight yards.
Fiorentina were hanging on for dear life, as at the 78th minute they completed their substitutions for the injured Felipe Dal Bello, meaning Gamberini and Cerci had to limp on with physical problems. Nonetheless, Lecce struggled to create any meaningful scoring opportunities. In fact, Kharja flashed an angled drive well off target for the Viola during six minutes of stoppages. At the 96th Cosmi was livid, as goalkeeper Benassi went up for a corner and his fierce volley was going to trouble Boruc, but teammate Guillermo Giacomazzi got in the way to charge it down.
Now Genoa need only one point from their next two games to be safe, so Lecce are practically in Serie B.