In what was a nervy affair at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Wednesday night, Juventus just about managed to snatch a Coppa Italia first-leg advantage as they grabbed a last-gasp 1-0 win against Fiorentina.
With all eyes on Dušan Vlahović’s return to Florence, there is no doubt that the Viola would have been disappointed not to have left with something to show for a gritty display in midweek.
Managing to draw a line under what was a downbeat end to February, we have taken a look at the main talking points as the Old Lady snatched a 92nd-minute winner outside of Turin.
Juve claw themselves over the finish line
Having to settle for three straight stalemates on the spin before making the trip to Florence on Wednesday night, Juventus Head Coach Massimiliano Allegri had made it clear that he was calling on his side to find some stability.
Knowing that they simply remain in a battle to clinch a Champions League finish this season, the Italian giants would have been glad to drag themselves over the finish line here.
While the former Serie A champions might have extended their unbeaten run to 10 matchups on the spin in midweek, Juve could only muster a single shot on target and were almost hit with a real first-leg banana skin outside of Turin.
Left thankful to have seen Fiorentina’s Artemio Franchi turn the ball into his own net with just seconds left on the clock, Allegri will be more than aware that this year’s Coppa Italia is Juve’s best chance of lifting a piece of silverware.
Failing to get much of a foothold in proceedings as the likes of Arthur struggled in the middle of the park, Wednesday’s display on the road falls firmly in the smash and grab category.
Just about managing to get their noses ahead thanks to Franchi’s last-gasp own goal, Allegri will be hoping for a far more polished display next month.
Positives in heartbreak for the Viola
Watching their eye-catching three-match winning run come to an abrupt end thanks to a 2-1 loss away at Sassuolo last weekend, many in Fiorentina’s camp were smelling a golden chance here.
However, while Vincenzo Italiano’s men might have been left heartbroken by Franchi’s injury-time own goal, the Viola should take plenty of positives away from a gritty display at a sellout Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Dominating large spells of possession and with former Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira
putting in a very impressive performance, Wednesday’s hosts came close to opening the scoring through Jonathan Ikoné.
With the four-cap France international causing a host of problems to what has been a leaky Juventus defence on either side of the half-time break, Italiano’s men don’t have long to dust themselves down.
Conceding just a single shot on Pietro Terracciano’s goal and knowing that they were more than worthy of something to show for their troubles here, Fiorentina should still be confident of overturning the deficit when they travel to Turin next month.
However, facing what is a stacked March schedule as they look to book a European return this season, the Viola will be next seen on Sunday afternoon when they host Verona.
All eyes on Vlahović’s return
While we might have had a showdown between two Italian giants on Wednesday night, there is no doubt that the return of a certain Dušan Vlahović stole most of the headlines prior to kick-off.
Making his first appearance back at the Stadio Artemio Franchi since leaving the Viola in a deal worth £66.6million last month, it is fair to say that the budding Serbian superstar received quite the hostile return here.
Left hurt that their now-former striker decided to run down his contract in Florence, the 22-year-old was met by a chorus of boos and whistles every time he touched the ball.
Making Champions League history last week as Vlahović bagged his debut European strike with under a minute on the clock against Villarreal, the towering number nine did struggle to make much of an impact on Wednesday night.
Well dealt with by Fiorentina’s defensive duo of Nikola Milenković and Igor Julio, the Viola’s former attacking talisman will be desperate to complete the job when Juve welcome Italiano’s side to Turin next month.
Fiorentina: Terracciano, Odriozola, Milenković, Igor, Biraghi, Castrovilli, Torreira, Bonaventura, Ikone, Piatek, Saponara
Subs: Venuti, Sottil, Gonzalez, Duncan, Cabral
Juventus: Perin, Danilo, de Ligt, De Sciglio, Pellegrini, Rabiot, Arthur, Locatelli, Ake, Kean, Vlahović
Subs: Cuadrado, Morata
Goals: Franchi OG 92′
Yellow Cards: Fiorentina: Milenković, Torreira, Bonaventura – Juventus: De Sciglio, Pellegrini
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Marco Guida
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