Europa League action is back as ACF Fiorentina face off against Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of the Round of 32!
Both managers have announced their starting lineups as they await the first whistle at Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence.
11′: Tottenham is getting comfortable in the match. Holding possession for minutes at a time.
17′: Dele Alli rushes past the defense in the middle of the field before giving the ball up to Son near the 18. The referee plays a Spurs advantage, but Son is met with a swarm of purple and doesn’t get a shot off.
20′: Fiorentina is awarded a corner kick. It gets played short and then a dangerous ball in creates chaos in front of Michael Vorm. An attempted shot leads to a handball appeal from Fiorentina, but the referee sees nothing of it.
21′: YELLOW CARD: Davide Astori- Fiorentina
24′: Eriksen gets into the box and finds Ben Davies making a run behind to the left. Davies’ attempted cross in the box is blocked by Fiorentina RB Nenad Tomovic.
26′: Christian Eriksen gains possession an cuts to the middle to fire a shot from long range that gives GK Tatarusanu real trouble. Corner Kick Spurs.
29′: Spurs CB Kevin Wimmer is given a warning after a hard foul on Josip Illicic
30′: YELLOW CARD. Dele Alli gets a booking after a poorly timed high kick to the torso of Tomovic.
32′: Huge chance for Fiorentina! Bernardeschi receives a cross unmarked and at point blank range in front of goal but simply doesn’t get a sufficient touch to send it towards goal.
37′: GOAL!! Dele Alli penetrates the Fiorentina defense and is taken down by at the ankle by a sliding Tomovic. The referee awards a penalty kick and Nacer Chadli steps up to calmly bury the shot left as Tatarusanu dove the opposite direction.
Tottenham’s goal came at time when Fiorentina was just increasing their intensity and looking dangerous in their own right. Dele Alli is certainly making a statement with his control and physicality in this match.
Fiorentina is visibly frustrated after going down a goal and being on the receiving end of multiple hard fouls from Spurs.
45′ Close for Fiorentina. The ball finds its way to Zarate who is all alone at the center of the 18-box. He gets off a free shot but doesn’t get it right as it sails over the goal.
An entertaining half as both clubs looked dangerous on the attack but couldn’t find the net from the run of play. Chadli’s penalty conversion gives Spurs a valuable away goal with 135 minutes left to play in the series. Tottenham have been dominated possession and won the physical battle, but Fiorentina have generated far better chances thus far. Each club is fighting for spots at the top of their respective league tables, so it will be interesting to see if the level of intensity carries over from the first half to the second.
46′ Substitution (Spurs): Moussa Dembele enters the game in the midfield in place of Tom Carroll.
48′ YELLOW CARD: Another hard foul as the studs of Spurs LB Ben Davies’s boot connects with the ankle of Blaszczykowski.
Aside from the Davies foul, the game has really calmed down for the moment with Fiorentina getting slightly more possession than they did in the first half.
53′: Naturally, Chadli finds space in the left side of the box, dribbles forward, then cuts back toward the middle to set up a right-footed shot that doesn’t have enough power to beat Tatarusanu at the near post.
61′ GOAL!!! (Fiorentina): Bernardeschi receives a central pass and absolutely rips a shot from way outside that barely tucks under the goalpost and the outstretched arm of Michael Vorm. Bernardeschi gets some help from a deflection that misdirected the ball upwards, making the potent strike even harder to deal with. 1-1.
68′, 69′ Substitution: Multiple subs enter as Matias Vecino replaces Tino Costa in the Fiorentina midfield, and striker Harry Kane comes on for Heung-Min Son, moving Chadli out to his preferred left side.
72′ Chadli uses his quick feet to maneuver between Fiorentina defenders then passes the ball off to Alli. Alli then finds Trippier making a blistering run alone on the right flank, but Trippier’s shot is easily dealt with.
75′ Vecino makes his presence known with a powerful shot from distance that forces Vorm to dive to his right. Vorm is able to corral the wicked strike.
Back and forth this game goes. Don’t tell either of these sides it’s “just the Europa League.” Expect a fantastic finish to this one.
79′ Substitution (Spurs): Goalscorer Nacer Chadli put in a great shift today but exits early for Eric Dier, who will slide into a central defensive role alongside Ryan Mason.
82′ Eric Dier takes a chance from deep but the shot is deflected behind the goal for a corner kick. Eriksen’s corner soars over his teammates and Fiorentina regains possession.
86′ A corner kick from Bernardeschi arrives low with pace at Vorm’s near post, but is cleared just before a Fiorentina attacker was able to get a head on it.
89′ A low shot from Zarate gives Vorm fits as the is shot is parried back into play where it is swiftly dealt with by the Tottenham defense.
90’+2: YELLOW CARD: Harry Kane is carded with an off-the-ball foul on Gonzalo Rodriguez. The foul occurred almost half a field away as Spurs looked to send in a desperation free kick from their side of midfield.
FINAL WHISTLE: 1 ACF Fiorentina : Tottenham Hotspur 1
Spurs will undoubtedly be pleased with this result and will take an away goal with them to White Hart Lane for next Thursday’s Leg 2 showdown. Spurs will regret conceding to a deflected shot while ahead, especially given how sturdy they defended today. Fiorentina will also celebrate their resiliency today, coming back from a goal down even the series. The Italian side should be optimistic for Leg 2 given how they produced more dangerous chances and seemed to improve as they game went on. Fiorentina should feel confident that adapting to Spurs and performing the way they did in the second half will see them through to the Round of 16.
Until next time!