Fiorentina vs. Juventus: Europa League Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterMarch 20, 2014

Juventus' Andrea Pirlo celebrates after scoring during an Europa League, round of 16, return-leg soccer match between Fiorentina and Juventus, at the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, Italy, Thursday, March 20,, 2014. (AP Photo/Massimo Pinca)
Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

Andrea Pirlo came to Juventus' rescue once again, scoring the lone goal with a superb free-kick as Juve won 1-0 at 10-man Fiorentina on Thursday evening to advance to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

With Juventus needing only a single goal to advance, Pirlo rifled in a 71st-minute free-kick moments after Fiorentina's Gonzalo Rodriguez had been sent off for his second bookable offence. Coupled with last week's 1-1 draw at Juventus, the Bianconeri moved into the quarter-finals with a 2-1 aggregate victory.

It was the second time in as many games that Pirlo had played the role of set-piece hero for Juve. On Sunday, the 34-year-old Italian international midfielder propelled Juventus to a Serie A victory at Genoa with a goal from a 89th-minute free-kick.

"I am happy to have scored two important goals in under a week, as it means we can get closer to the objectives we set ourselves," Pirlo said, per Football Italia. "How do I decide which way to take free kicks? I make my decision at the last moment. This time I looked at the wall and decided to hit it with more power."

This time, the stage was the Europa League round-of-16 second leg at Fiorentina's Stadio Artemio Franchi. And after playing hero once again, Pirlo has put Juventus in good position for European glory this spring.

Leading Serie A by a massive 14 points, Juventus look certain to win a third straight league title. After seeing off Fiorentina's stiff challenge, the Bianconeri must rank among the favourites for the Europa League crown as well.

"People say that the Europa League isn’t of great interest to us and we find that slightly irritating," Juventus assistant manager Angelo Alessio said, per "We want to go all the way in every competition.

Alessio added: "We were up against it for the first 10 to 15 minutes or so but then created several chances of our own. Eventually, the sending off and free-kick saw us through."

FLORENCE, ITALY - MARCH 20: Players of Juventus Fc celebrates the victory after during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match between ACF Fiorentina and Juventus at Stadio Artemio Franchi on March 20, 2014 in Florence, Italy.  (Photo by Gabri
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Fiorentina, meanwhile, are 10 points behind third-placed Napoli in the race for Italy's final Champions League spot but remain well-positioned to qualify for next season's Europa League via their league finish. The Viola are set to face Napoli in the Coppa Italia final on May 3. 

After scoring a late equaliser in last week's first leg, Fiorentina settled into the second leg quickly and immediately started creating chances. Josip Ilicic sent a long-range shot off target in the second minute, and Mario Gomez skimmed the post a minute later after beating Gianluigi Buffon.

Juventus soon gained a foothold, and Fernando Llorente headed off target in the seventh minute. Paul Pogba's 24th-minute header then forced Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto into a spectacular save, but Pogba had already been ruled offside.

Fiorentina came close again in the 28th minute, as David Pizarro volleyed just wide of the bottom corner. At the other end, Neto smothered Carlos Tevez's shot in the 29th minute and saved again from Pogba two minutes later.

The hosts' best chance of the first half came in the 39th minute, when Ilicic took advantage of a poor clearance by Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini. But after dribbling to the edge of the box, Ilicic blasted his shot well over the bar.

With the match still tied 0-0 at half-time, the two teams produced end-to-end action in the early moments of the second 45 minutes. Buffon saved Borja Valero's free-kick in the 52nd minute and again from Juan Cuadrado's powerful strike five minutes later.

FLORENCE, ITALY - MARCH 20: Gonzalo Rodriguez of ACF Fiorentina fights for the ball with Giorgio Chiellini of Juventus during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 match between ACF Fiorentina and Juventus at Stadio Artemio Franchi on March 20, 2014 in Flore
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Arturo Vidal had Juventus' best chance yet in the 59th minute, but he headed off target from Mauricio Isla's cross. Pogba shot off target five minutes later, and Tevez had another effort saved in the 66th minute.

The game changed with just over 20 minutes left, as Fiorentina went down to 10 men. Rodriguez, who had already been booked in the first half, drew his second booking—and subsequent red card—in the 69th minute for a foul on Llorente.

From the resulting free-kick, Pirlo curled his shot into the top corner to give Juventus the crucial breakthrough goal. Leading 1-0, Juventus came close again in the 82nd minute through Stephan Lichtsteiner and again eight minutes later through Vidal's header.

But the misses didn't matter, and Pirlo's lone goal again made the difference.



Fiorentina Player Ratings vs. Juventus
Juan Cuadrado6.7
Stefan Savic7.0
Gonzalo Rodriguez6.3
Nenad Tomovic6.4
David Pizarro7.0
Juan Vargas6.2
Alberto Aquilani6.9
Borja Valero7.0
Josip Ilicic6.0
Mario Gomez6.5
Massimo Ambrosini (for Pizarro, 46')6.3
Alessandro Matri (for Gomez, 64')5.9
Facundo Roncaglia (for Ilicic, 72')6.1
Ratings via
Juventus Player Ratings vs. Fiorentina
Gianluigi Buffon7.0
Leonardo Bonucci7.4
Martin Caceres7.3
Giorgio Chiellini7.0
Mauricio Isla7.1
Kwadwo Asamoah6.5
Paul Pogba7.6
Andrea Pirlo8.4
Arturo Vidal7.6
Carlos Tevez6.8
Fernando Llorente6.2
Stephan Lichtsteiner (for Isla, 76')6.7
Pablo Osvaldo (for Llorente, 88')6.4
Ratings via


Up Next

Fiorentina play at Napoli in Serie A on Sunday. Juventus play at Catania the same day.


    Arsenal Fans React to Ostersund Horror Show

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Arsenal Fans React to Ostersund Horror Show

    via footballlondon

    Live: Arsenal vs. Ostersund in Europa League

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Live: Arsenal vs. Ostersund in Europa League

    Michael Butler
    via the Guardian

    Arrests Made After Fans, Police Clash in Bilbao

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Arrests Made After Fans, Police Clash in Bilbao

    Gill Clark
    via Bleacher Report

    Russian Arrested Over Euro 2016 Attack on England Fan

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Russian Arrested Over Euro 2016 Attack on England Fan

    Martha Kelner
    via the Guardian