Sat, Mar 07, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Salah brace guides Fiorentina

ON A ROLL:A Fernando Llorente goal in the 24th minute leveled the scores, but Fiorentina added another to stretch their unbeaten run to 15 games

AP, TURIN, Italy

ACF Fiorentina defender Marcos Alonso, left, and Martin Caceres of Juventus vie for the ball during their Coppa Italia game at the San Siro in Turin, Italy, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Raising his tally to six goals in seven matches since arriving on loan from Chelsea, Mohamed Salah scored twice in ACF Fiorentina’s 2-1 win over Juventus in the opening leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals on Thursday.

Juventus suffered their first loss at home since falling to Bayern Munich nearly two years ago.

Salah scored his first 11 minutes in when he sprinted past three defenders before launching a shot from inside the area.

After Fernando Llorente equalized for the Serie A leaders with a header in the 24th, Salah scored the winner in the second half with an angled shot inside the area.

Since transferring last month, Salah has three goals in Serie A, one in the Europa League and two in the Coppa Italia. That is a drastic improvement from his year at Chelsea, when the 22-year-old Egypt international scored only twice in 19 appearances.

“He’s in a state of grace and hopefully he can continue,” Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said.

Salah also scored the decisive goal in Fiorentina’s 1-0 win against Inter last weekend, the club’s first victory over the Nerazzurri at San Siro in 15 years.

“He’s fast, he’s skillful and he scores,” said Alessandro Diamanti, who replaced Salah in the 74th minute.

Chelsea are paying Salah’s salary at Fiorentina until the end of the season, when the Italian side can take him on loan for another season or buy him outright for 20 million euros (US$22 million).

Fiorentina stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 15 matches.

“The guys are really maturing and we’ve been able to put together some great results,” Montella said.

Juventus started with stalwarts Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Carlos Tevez on the bench, and the Bianconeri were missing Andrea Pirlo to injury.

Still, they controlled at the start, with Arturo Vidal’s narrow miss denying the hosts the lead two minutes in.

Fiorentina had not threatened at all until Salah got the ball near midfield and proceeded to weave his way all the way into Juve’s area, especially befuddling the last defender, Simone Padoin.

There were more problems for Juve when Kingsley Coman limped off briefly in the 18th minute.

Llorente quickly brought the fans back into the match when he rose high to redirect a cross from Simone Pepe off the post and in.

Tevez replaced Coman in the 36th minute and was immediately active, but could not find the target on a couple of chances.

The match remained deadlocked until Claudio Marchisio lost control in the 56th minute and forward Joaquin took advantage, setting up Salah, who slotted a shot beyond the reach of outstretched goalkeeper Marco Storari.

The only negative note for Fiorentina came three minutes later, when forward Mario Gomez exited with an apparent injury.

Fiorentina, who lost last season’s final to Napoli, are seeking their seventh Coppa title.

Juventus share the record of nine titles with AS Roma, but have not won the trophy in 20 years.

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