An unfortunate own goal from second half substitute Lorenzo Venuti in injury-time sees Juventus snatch a 1-0 win over Fiorentina on Dusan Vlahovic’s return to Florence.
In a game where Fiorentina looked the more likely to score, with Juventus registering just the one shot on target, Juventus snatched the victory through Venuti, setting up a finely-poised decider in Turin on April 21.
Fiorentina were the better side in the first half. Juventus’ second choice goalkeeper Mattia Perin almost gifted Fiorentina a glorious chance to open the scoring in the 14th minute when his poor clearance landed at the feet of Giacomo Bonaventura, but he fired his first-time shot over the bar.
With Fiorentina continuing to pressure, their best chance came in the 25th minute through Jonathan Ikone. The winger made good use of his ferocious pace on the counter-attack to break free and had a low driven strike which he dragged inches wide of Perin’s right post.
Ikone came closest to scoring for La Viola in the second half. In the 49th minute, Arsenal loanee Lucas Torreira fed the ball into his path, but the Frenchman’s left-footed curling shot from inside the box clattered off the post.
Both sides were reduced to half chances in a scrappy half, with Vlahovic getting physically dominated by the Fiorentina defence in front of a hostile crowd, and it looked like the second leg would be a one-off shoot-out.
But in the first minute of injury time, it was disaster for Venuti as he turned the ball into his own net, allowing a cross from Juan Cuadrado into the box to ricochet off him, under little pressure, and roll into his own goal to hand Juve a slender second leg advantage.
TALKING POINT – VLAHOVIC’S SUBDUED RETURN
Vlahovic struggled to get into the game against his former club and did not look the player who has scored four goals already for Juve since his debut against Verona on February 6. It was always likely the 22-year-old Serbian striker would receive a hostile welcome back to Florence and he looked frustrated regularly at times as he was tightly marked by the physically imposing duo of Nikola Milenkovic and Igor at all times.
MAN OF THE MATCH – JONATHAN IKONE
The 23-year-old winger’s pace is electrifying and Juventus struggled to contain him. He had two of Fiorentina’s best chances to win the game and was unfortunate not to convert.
Fiorentina: Terracciano (6), Odriozola (5), Milenkovic (7), Igor (6), Biraghi (7), Torreira (7), Castrovilli (6), Bonaventura (7), Saponara (6), Ikone (8), Piatek (6)
Subs: Venuti (5), Cabral (5), Sottil (6), Duncan (N/A), Gonzalez (N/A)
Juventus: Perin (6), De Sciglio (6), De Ligt (6), Danilo (5), Pellegrini (6), Arthur (6), Rabiot (5), Locatelli (5), Ake (5), Vlahovic (6), Kean (5)
Subs: Cuadrado (7), Morata (6)
14′ – HUGE ERROR FROM PERIN! Perin’s lackadaisical clearance off his left boot lands straight at the feet of Bonaventura but he fires his first-time shot over the bar! That is the best chance of the match so far and Bonaventura knows he has made a mess of that great opportunity.
25′ – SO CLOSE FROM IKONE! A loose pass from Terracciano hands Juventus position deep inside Fiorentina’s half. Pellegrini’s cross to the far post is cleared away and Fiorentina counter-attack. Ikone sprints down the right at a frightening pace and his low driven shot veers just wide of Perin’s right post! That is the closest we have come to the game’s opening goal!
49′ – OFF THE POST! It’s a huge chance missed by Ikone! Torreira finds the winger free down the right. He cuts inside, getting the better of De Sciglio, before his curling left-footed effort rattles off the woodwork!
90+1′ – GOAL! JUVENTUS WIN IT LATE ON! UNBELIEVABLE! IT’S AN OWN GOAL!! Venuti turns the ball into his own net! A cross into the box from Cuadrado clatters off the second half substitute and rolls in!