Fiorentina 1-1 PSV Eindhoven: Tough Draw at Home for La Viola (UEFA Cup Quarter-Finals, Leg 1)

Fiorentina vs. PSV Eindhoven (UEFA Cup)

For Fiorentina, the objectives of midweek’s European fixture were two-fold. First, they were looking for the enthusiasm, pace, and beautiful plays that have become the tradermarks of La Viola this season, and which the team seems to have lost in the Italian league lately. Secondly, they wanted to push forward and stay in a competition which, until now, has been giving them a fair amount of satisfaction. For the only Serie A team left in Europe (let’s face it, Roma’s pretty much a goner), I would say that’s a pretty big responsibility.

For those expectations, the Artemio Franchi spectactors responded grandly. La Viola? Not so much, but it wasn’t entirely their fault. There’s a reason PSV Eindhoven are the current Eredivisie champions, and have ended in the UEFA Cup after being eliminated from the Champions League. This is a team that has some European experience under its belt, and who in their Thursday night away match was tactically perfect in closing down the house, and relying on the fast counter-attacks of Ibrahim Afellay, undoubtedly the man of the match.

Adrian Mutu celebrates the Fiorentina opener with teammate Marco Donadel (Fiorentina 1-1 PSV Eindhoven, UEFA Cup 2007-08)

UEFA Cup - Quarter-Finals, Leg 1 - Fiorentina 1-1 PSV Eindhoven

Speaking of Afellay, this is a 22 year-old ‘all-round midfielder’ (to cite Wikipedia), one who the Azzurri have a strong chance in seeing again this Summer at Euro 2008. And for good reason, as the lad combines skills, speed, and agility in a very dangerous cocktail that’s been known to be tradermark of many Oranje wing players (Zenden, Robben, Babel to name a few). PSV’s tactics for the first 45 minutes were relying heavily on the work of their young winger, especially on Fiorentina’s right wing where even the best efforts of Martin Jorgensen (fielded as right-back for the occasion) were having a tough time containing the danger. The first ‘warning’ of Danny Koevermans’s header (minute 3) gave Sebastien Frey a glimpse of things to come.

Adrian Mutu scores the openerIronically, Fiorentina seemed to be a lot more comfortable in allowing PSV to dictate the play (La Viola were playing at home after all), and exploiting counter-attacks of their own thanks to Massimo Gobbi and Mario Alberto Santana on the wings, and Fabio Liverani and Riccardo Montolivo in the center. Before the first half ended on a score of 0-0, Prandelli’s men were thus able to produce a few shooting chances, through Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Tomas Ujfalusi from the distance, and Adrian Mutu (back for the first time since his 1-month injury) and Gianpaolo Pazzini from close-range. Not enough to fool Gomes’ vigilance however.

In the second half, PSV decided to be even more daring than the first half and stepped on the gas pedal a little. The result? A lightning counter-attack orchestrated by Afellay (saved by Frey), and a dangerous Jefferson Farfan cross for Koevermans, only so slightly deflected wide. Shivers for Frey and his teammates, but apparently enough to wake La Viola up: on the first opportunity of the second period, Fiorentina opened the score. A long ball by Frey found the header of Pazzini for the flick, Gomes hesitated in rushing out, and allowed Adrian Mutu to connect to the ball first: two double rebounds ensued  between the Romanian striker and the Brazilian keeper, eventually resulting in the ball looping up over the PSV nº1, and straight into the net. A rather fortunate goal, but Fiorentina will take it. 1-0 Fiorentina.

Ibrahim Afellay (left) and Danny Koevermans celebrate the PSV equalizerUnfortunately, the home team’s lead didn’t last very long. Ibrahim Afellay went once again to work, finding space to set up Danny Koevermans in front of La Viola’s keeper, and the Dutch striker didn’t think twice about going for power and beating Frey for the equalizer. 1-1, and a vital away goal for PSV.

At this point Prandelli decided to play his ‘wild’ card and insert Bobo Vieri for an out-of-gas Liverani. La Viola’s attack gained in power, but not much in accuracy: all their ensuing shots were either off the mark or directed straight onto the new keeper (Gomes had picked up a knock in minute 61, and had to be subbed off). At the end of the day, the final 1-1 score is a satisfying loot for PSV and their coach Sef Vergoossen, and it will take this season’s best Fiorentina to find a good result at Philips Stadium in a week’s time.

Danny Koevermans celebrates PSV's equalizer (Fiorentina 1-1 PSV Eindhoven, UEFA Cup 2007-08)


 ACF Fiorentina
[Match Highlights]
 PSV Eindhoven
GOALSCORERS: 50’ Mutu (F), 63’ Koevermans (P)
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Jorgensen, Gamberini, Ujfalusi, Gobbi – Kuzmanovic (67’ Donadel), Liverani (76’ Vieri), Montolivo – Santana (93’ Osvaldo), Pazzini, Mutu. (bench: Avramov, Kroldrup, Pasqual, Potenza). Coach: Prandelli.
PSV EINDHOVEN (4-2-3-1): Gomes (61’ Roorda) – Kromkamp, Marcellis, Salcido, Rajkovic – Méndez, Simons – Farfán (96’ Vayrynen), Culina, Afellay – Koevermans (64’ Lazovic). (bench: Bakkal, Zonneveld, Dzsudzsak, E.Addo). Coach: Vergossen.


Posted in Fiorentina, UEFA Cup |

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