A five-season hiatus from European football came to an end for Fiorentina, as goals from Alfred Duncan and Nicolás González secured a famous 2-0 victory over the record Italian champions Juventus.
In the knowledge a victory would secure European football for the ‘Viola’, a nervy Fiorentina spent much of the first period probing, before finding a breakthrough on the brink of HT. Failing to clear a bouncing ball in the box, Juventus were made to pay when Duncan fired the ball beyond Mattia Perin to give the hosts a precious advantage.
Largely reduced to half-chances before going in front, much of the positive play from the hosts came via Giacomo Bonaventura, who twice saw deflected shots squirm just past the post. Firstly denied by Matthijs de Ligt, the Fiorentina midfielder’s next effort would be matched by veteran Giorgio Chiellini, who was taking part in his final-ever fixture for the ‘Old Lady’.
Substituted at HT with a suspected head injury, it wasn’t the fairytale ending Chiellini would’ve dreamt of and with the 37-year-old having been stripped away from the Juventus backline, the hosts began their search for a crucial second goal. A Nicolás González bicycle kick was as close as Fiorentina came to adding to their advantage as the Argentine international’s acrobatic effort sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
After what seemed like an age before eventually entering the pitch, a hostile crowd jeered Dušan Vlahović’s return to the Artemio Franchi Stadium, but it was a goal 340 kilometres away in Bergamo that sent the ‘Viola’ faithful into raptures. Needing to better Fiorentina’s result to have any hopes of European qualification, Atalanta were unable to see off a stubborn Empoli, rendering the result in Florence somewhat meaningless. Still, the hosts managed to add a second before FT, when González converted from 12 yards to secure their place in next season’s UEFA Europa Conference League.