Adem Ljajic was inspirational at Marassi as Fiorentina flattened Sampdoria 3-0 to temporarily fly into third.
The Viola were within a point of Milan in third place and could taste Champions League football, but paid a visit to the man they fired last season. A year ago almost to the day, Delio Rossi was sacked for punching Adem Ljajic in a dugout brawl. It was also special for ex-Sampdoria hero Vincenzo Montella.
Samp were without Nenad Krsticic and Andrea Costa, while Fiorentina had Stevan Jovetic back in the starting XI after his muscular problems. Facundo Roncaglia, Cristian Llama, Giuseppe Rossi and Michele Camporese were sidelined.
The Blucerchiati had the better start and Andrea Poli blasted over, while a Fiorentina corner took a triple ricochet before landing in the goalkeeper’s arms. The visitors began to rack up a series of corners and from one of these Alberto Aquilani’s diving header was just over.
Juan Cuadrado attempted to surprise Romero with a cheeky chip, but the Argentine shot-stopper saw it coming, as Fiorentina pinned Samp back after that shaky start.
The pressure paid off, as Cuadrado broke through with an absolute screamer from 30 metres that bounced just in front of Romero to slot into the far bottom corner.
Romero took the sting out of a Ljajic free kick under the bar, but moments later the striker found the back of the net. He pounced on a poor Mustafi clearance to smash into the near bottom corner from just inside the penalty area.
Gianluca Sansone tested Emiliano Viviano 40 seconds after the restart, then Aquilani fired wide when he should’ve set up the unmarked Jovetic. Cuadrado’s strike was charged down after good work between Ljajic and Borja Valero.
Angelo Palombo’s snapshot skimmed the crossbar for Samp, but Ljajic shook off Poli to pull back from the by-line, providing Aquilani with the easiest of tap-ins from six yards.
Sampdoria showed little sign of a comeback and Daniele Gastaldello was given a straight red card for a dreadful tackle from behind on Ljajic.
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Sent off: Gastaldello 80 (S)