Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Resurgent Fiorentina down Udinese, reach Coppa final

AFP, ROME

ACF Fiorentina’s Manuel Pasqual celebrates with fans after scoring against Udinese in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final in Florence, Italy, on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA

ACF Fiorentina moved to within one win of acquiring their first trophy since 2001 after defeating fellow Serie A side Udinese 2-0 in the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Tuesday to win 3-2 on aggregate.

Goals by captain Manuel Pasqual and Colombian star Juan Cuadrado set up the Viola for a final against either SSC Napoli or AS Roma and gave them the chance to complete a remarkable revival.

Napoli and Roma were to square off yesterday, with the Giallorossi leading 3-2 going into the clash.

Just 11 years ago, Fiorentina’s fall from grace looked complete as they languished in Italy’s fourth division as a result of serious financial difficulties.

The Florence side was then rescued by brothers Andrea and Diego Della Valle.

On Tuesday, Fiorentina, who beat Parma 2-1 on aggregate in the 2001 final with a side that then boasted the quality of Portuguese duo Rui Costa and Nuno Gomes, took just 14 minutes to level the aggregate score thanks to a wonderful strike by Pasqual.

Udinese, whose last Coppa final appearance was in 1922, had several opportunities to score, but Antonio Di Natale sent a good chance high into the stands in the 25th minute and had two other efforts saved by Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto.

Di Natale’s run of bad luck continued when he saw his 33rd-minute header hit the stanchion of the goal and then come back off the post.

Udinese goalkeeper Simone Scuffet had to be at his best to repel a shot from Spanish forward Joaquin five minutes from the break.

However, for all Udinese’s enterprising play, it was the hosts who gained the upper hand when Cuadrado’s cleanly struck shot crept in under the bar following a counterattack.

Yet Cuadrado’s joy was tempered by his suspension from the final, although Fiorentina will hope to have Germany striker Mario Gomez — who was on the bench as he returned from a long-term injury — back to his best.

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