Adrian Mutu scored two first-half goals Tuesday to help Fiorentina defeat Debrecen 4-3 in the Champions League.
Debrecen surprised Fiorentina with a goal by Peter Czitkovics in the second minute, but Mutu’s double and another goal by Alberto Gilardino put Fiorentina 3-1 up by the 20th minute in the Group E match.
Rudolf Gergely scored for Debrecen in the 28th with a curling shot from the left side after eluding several defenders with some fancy dribbling.
Fiorentina’s Mario Santana made it 4-2 in the 37th before Debrecen’s Adamo Coulibaly scored an 89th-minute header, the only goal in the second half.
Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli praised the home side’s fighting spirit in the loss, saying he was surprised by their decision to field two strikers instead of one.
“I saw two teams which wanted to win but we were able to neutralize Debrecen’s attacks,” Prandelli said. “I congratulate Debrecen for not giving up and not losing concentration even when they were down 4-2.”
Prandelli said Mutu has been sharp in practice lately, and was able to carry that over the game.
“I am very, very happy with Mutu’s performance and his play was a credit to the team,” Prandelli said.
Mutu also assisted on Gilardino’s goal, and it was a save on his shot by Debrecen goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic which allowed Santana to convert the rebound from 14 meters (yards).
Debrecen coach Andras Herczeg blamed the defeat on the lapses by the back line at the start of the match which allowed Fiorentina to score three times in 13 minutes.
“Such defensive mistakes are not forgiven at this level of play,” Herczeg said. “Still, it was a very exciting match and we have nothing to be ashamed of.”