After drawing their last two Serie A matches, Fioretina looked to get back on track as they hosted Udinese at the Artemio Franchi. Meanwhile mid-table Udinese were coming off the heels of a 3-1 Coppa Italia victory against Atalanta this past Wednesday.
La Viola started off on the front foot as Nikola Kalinic found himself inside the six-yard box in the 3rd minute but directed his shot right at Udinese goalkeeper, Orestis Karnezis. Just seven minutes later, Karnezis was up to the task again as he made a nice near-post save on a half volley from Marcos Alonso. Udinese found their first chance of the match in the 18th minute as Emmanuel Badu headed a cross from Cyril Thereau wide. La Viola broke the deadlock nine minutes later as Milan Badelj’s shot from outside the box deflected off Nikola Kalinic, threw Karnezis off balance and trickled into the back of the net. Udinese almost found a quick response as Silvan Widmer’s header hit the post following Francesco Lodi’s free kick in the 30th minute. The home side had a great chance to double their lead just four minutes before halftime as Marcos Alonso’s cross found an outstretched Kalinic but the Croatian put the ball over the net.
Udinese came out and controlled the pace of the first ten minutes of the second half but couldn’t create any real opportunities. The Zebrette made a double substitution in the 85th minute as Bruno Fernandes and Antonio Di Natale came on for Manuel Iturra and Rodrigo Aguirre. Unfortunately for Stefano Colantuono, his subs wouldn’t have much impact. Just five minutes later Badu made a clumsy challenge on Kalinic inside the box and La Viola were awarded a penalty kick. Josip Illicic stepped up and slotted the ball in the upper left-hand corner to double Fiorentina’s lead. Udinese had a great chance to get back into the match but Di Natale uncharacteristically skied a wide-open shot from just 8 yards out. Paulo Sousa’s side sealed the three points in the 86th minute as captain Gonzalo Rodriguez headed home a corner kick.
With the victory, Fiorentina move into 2nd place in Serie A on 32 points while Udinese drop to 13th place with 18 points. La Viola are one of only four teams in Europe’s top five leagues to have scored in every league match this season. Fiorentina will host Portuguese club Belenenses on Thursday night as they look to secure their spot in the Europa League knockout round.
Paulo Sousa: “We all believe in what we’re doing. At times it works, others it doesn’t, but the team is always ready to win with great hunger and quality football. We are trying to give a sense of consistency to our performances, both individually and as a group. We want to improve more every game. My players have always been very eager to work. It was a difficult match today and we did very well. It required a lot of intensity, both collective and individual, and we played some great football that allowed us to win. Federico Bernardeschi is doing very well and each week getting more and more into this new role out wide. We will need full concentration for the game next week. How will the Juve fans greet me? I’ve had respect everywhere in my career and I hope Turin will be the same.”
Stefano Colantuono: “It’s difficult to judge a 3-0 result, as it does not reflect the game and I don’t believe there was a three-goal difference between the teams today. We hit the woodwork, and then conceded the second goal. We had the chance to open it up again and the third goal was really too much. I am satisfied with the performance, I’m not disappointed and we cannot give up now.”