European League: Roma secure Florence draw
Agen Bola – Roma picked up a precious 1-1 away win at Fiorentina in the Europa League, despite Neto saving an Adem Ljajic penalty.
There was an all-Italian Derby in the Last 16 because there were still five Serie A representatives left in the tournament, more than any nation since West Germany in the 1979-80 UEFA Cup. The Viola were fresh from a 4-0 hammering by Lazio, ending their 13-match unbeaten run in all competition, while the Giallorossi had done little but draw over the last two months.
These sides had also met in the Coppa Italia this season, Fiorentina knocking Roma out with a 2-0 win at the Olimpico.
The hosts had the stronger start, David Pizarro and Borja Valero shots charged down, then Pizarro volleyed a corner wide.
They did go in front when Daniele De Rossi gave the ball away, Mo Salah threaded through for Josip Ilicic to blast in at the near top corner.
Norberto Neto stuck out a foot to deflect Juan Manuel Iturbe’s volley and another De Rossi error sparked a counter. The captain was struggling with an injury and vented his frustration when being replaced by Miralem Pjanic.
Jose Maria Basanta fired over yet another counter, but Roma lost Kostas Manolas to a back injury too, meaning Rudi Garcia was forced into two changes in the opening 26 minutes. Radja Nainggolan was also booked, meaning he’ll be suspended for the second leg.
Nainggolan drilled wide, then Neto did well to parry from Alessandro Florenzi and Adem Ljajic ballooned the follow-up over from 10 yards. Fiorentina also lost a player to injury, Pizarro making way for Mati Fernandez.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa decisively blocked an Ilicic strike in the box, but Iturbe went on a rapid counter and fell one-on-one with Neto. The referee awarded a penalty, but the Viola were furious, as Neto appeared to get his fingertips to the ball. Neto felt justice was done, as he saved the penalty from ex-Fiorentina striker Ljajic.
Neto came tearing out to clear from Nainggolan, but Roma did get their equaliser and away goal when Seydou Keita was allowed a free header from six yards on Alessandro Florenzi’s corner. It arrived just days after he had secured a precious draw against Juventus, also from a set play.
Milan Badelj unleashed a swerving effort from distance that Lukasz Skorupski did well to palm out from under the bar, while Iturbe blasted over when he should’ve set up one of his teammates.
Fiorentina 1-1 Roma
Scorers: Ilicic 17 (F), Keita 77 (R)
Fiorentina: Neto; Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Basanta, Alonso; Badelj, Pizarro (Mati Fernandez 45), Borja Valero (Aquilani 72); Joaquin, Ilicic (Babacar 81), Salah
Roma: Skorupski; Torosidis, Manolas (Astori 26), Yanga-Mbiwa, Holebas; Nainggolan, De Rossi (Pjanic 23), Keita; Florenzi, Ljajic (Gervinho 76), Iturbe
Ref: Lahoz (ESP)
Saved penalty: Ljajic 60 (R)