Fiorentina claims first season win
Fiorentina opened its Serie A season in style, beating Catania 2-1 Monday with goals from Giuseppe Rossi and David Pizarro.
La Viola are considered an outside bet for the Serie A title this season after signing Mario Gomez from Bayern Munich, but it was January recruit Giuseppe Rossi who opened the scoring in Florence.
The former Villarreal man, who has finally recovered from cruciate ligament damage, saw his first goal in nearly two years cancelled out by Pablo Barrientos thanks to Pizarro's sloppy defending. The Chilean would make amends, however, conjuring up a classy finish to settle the contest before halftime.
Catania almost opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Panagiotis Tachtsidis collected a careless square ball from Pizarro to blast just over the bar. The hosts shrugged off any embarrassment caused by Pizarro's faux pas by grabbing the lead 60 seconds later.
Rossi, whose last Serie A goal arrived for Parma against Messina in May 2007, controlled Juan Cuadrado's sharp cross to tuck home his first goal in Viola colours. However, Catania capitalized on another Pizarro error to level the match within eight minutes.
The Chilean failed to cut out Sebastian Leto's soft cross from the left and Barrientos made no mistake in sweeping up the ball and guiding it beyond Neto. At that point Pizarro was risking an early bath but he convinced coach Vincenzo Montella to keep faith with him by producing the best goal of the game.
Another Cuadrado raid down the right saw the ball bobble into the D where Pizarro touched it onto his right boot before curling it into the top corner. Gonzalo Bergessio's miss from a sweet Giuseppe Bellusci through-ball was perhaps unfortunate but there could be no excusing Gomez when he turned Rossi's slide-rule ball against a post with the goal gaping in the 41st minute.
The second half would not provide the same entertainment as the first but Barrientos and Manuel Pasqual exchanged attempts on goal early on.
Leto's torrid attempt in the 65th minute allowed Fiorentina to break and once again Cuadrado provided the killer ball as Rossi forced a smart stop from Mariano Andujar. Rossi left the pitch to a standing ovation in the 77th minute and his replacement, Josip Ilicic, soon warmed Andujar's gloves with a sighter.
Despite their dominance in the final third, Fiorentina's nerves were visibly fraying as time ticked away and Maxi Lopez came closest to snatching a late equaliser, only for Neto to make a regulation save.