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Vlahović marks milestone in style as Samp struggles return

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Serie A top scorer Dušan Vlahović scored his 43rd Fiorentina goal in his 100th game for the club to help them to a 3-1 win over Sampdoria at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

The visitors came into this contest buoyed by back-to-back wins for the first time under Roberto D’Aversa and claimed a surprise early lead. Antonio Candreva’s wicked cross found Manolo Gabbiadini unmarked and the former Southampton striker headed brilliantly into the far corner beyond the desperate dive of Pietro Terracciano. ‘La Viola’ equalised midway through the first half when Riccardo Sottil dipped inside Candreva and whipped a sumptuous ball to the back post for José Callejón to apply the easiest of finishes and get on the scoresheet for the first time this term.

The comeback was complete on 33 minutes when Vincenzo Italiano’s charges counter-attacked clinically and Vlahović, who is heavily linked with a Premier League move in January, was perfectly placed in the box to head Giacomo Bonaventura’s inviting delivery back across the flailing Emil Audero for his 12th league goal of the campaign. Things went from bad to worse for ‘La Samp’ as, on the cusp of half-time, Cristiano Biraghi’s pass found Bonaventura in space in the area, and the 32-year-old’s deflected square ball allowed Sottil to tap home from close range.

Coming into this contest, Fiorentina had conceded an incredible 17 of their 19 league goals in 2021/22 in the second half and on 54 minutes, D’Aversa decided to gamble, making a triple substitution which included the introduction of 38-year-old Fabio Quagliarella, who has scored more goals against Fiorentina (13) than against any other opponent in his career. Sottil then spurned a golden opportunity to double his tally for the evening as he bore down on Audero, only to slot wide, before a Biraghi cross narrowly evaded Vlahović in a half that was notably less frantic than the opening period.

The loss means Sampdoria remain 15th ahead of their match with Lazio on Sunday, while Italiano’s men, who currently sit sixth, travel to Bologna the same day.

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