Fiorentina fends off 10-man Verona

Fiorentina beat 10-man Hellas Verona 4-3 in an eventful Italian league game on Monday to boost its hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Four of the goals came in the opening 15 minutes in an open match at the Stadio Franchi.

Fiorentina captain Borja Valero scored twice, either side of goals from on-loan Fiorentina midfielder Romulo and Juan Iturbe for Verona.

Juan Vargas fired Fiorentina in front shortly before halftime and Giuseppe Rossi added a fourth from the penalty spot after Bosko Jankovic had been shown a straight red card for handball.

The U.S-born Rossi, who plays for the Italian national team, is the top scorer in Serie A with 12 goals, four more than Torino‘s Alessio Cerci.

Jorginho reduced the deficit in the 72nd minute as both sides had several chances to add to their tallies.

Fiorentina moved level with fourth-place Inter Milan, a point behind Napoli which visits Lazio later. Verona is five points further back in sixth.

Fiorentina took the lead in the fifth minute when Valero cut his way in from the right and fired into the bottom near corner from the edge of the area.

But the home side’s advantage lasted less than a minute before Neto could only parry Iturbe’s strike and the onrushing Romulo fired in the rebound.

And Hellas went in front in the 13th as Luca Toni found Iturbe, who lashed a stunning 30-yard strike into the top corner.

However, its lead also lasted mere seconds before Valero scored his second of the night, carving out space for himself just outside the area before unleashing an effort which was deflected into the top left corner.

Fiorentina restored its advantage two minutes from the break when Vargas put an angled drive into the far bottom corner.

It extended its lead nine minutes after the interval when Rossi fired a spot kick into the bottom right corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Despite its numerical disadvantage, Verona kept pressing and got back into the game when Toni’s shot was saved by Neto but Jorginho was on hand to follow up.

Verona goalkeeper Rafael pulled off a number of saves, most notably to deny Rossi, Mati Fernandez and Nenad Tomovic.

Both teams were given a standing ovation at the final whistle.