Gilardino scores gem as Fiorentina climb
© AFP

Fiorentina defeated struggling Cesena 1-0 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi today to moved up to ninth place in Serie A. Alberto Gilardino scored the only goal of the game in the 59th minute to ease the pressure on Fiorentina coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and put his opposite number Massimo Ficcadenti's job on the line.

However, Cesena showed a good fighting spirit and, despite not creating many clear-cut chances, they made Fiorentina work hard for their win. Fiorentina's defeat to Roma in midweek had once again put the pressure on Mihajlovic, who needed a win to lift his side into the top half of the table. Yet his team looked nervous against a side who have only just moved off the foot of the table thanks to a 1-0 win over Lazio on Wednesday.

The only chances the Viola created in the first half were thwarted by Cesena's veteran goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli. He pushed away a dangerous cross from the left after half an hour before punching Juan Vargas' header away from his goal four minutes later. The Viola attack was weakened when Adrian Mutu limped out of only his third game back after a lengthy suspension, to be replaced by Adam Ljajic, and it was hard to see where a goal may come from.

Just as Cesena were beginning to get on top of the game, Gilardino created a goal out of nothing. Alessio Cerci's cross took a deflection to take the ball behind the Italy striker, who - with one touch - lifted the ball back in front of him and then turned to volley it into the top left-hand corner from eight yards. The goal unblocked the home team, who had two chances to double their lead. Ljajic found a way through and took the ball around Antonioli, resisting the temptation to fall over the goalkeeper before lifting a pass back to Gaetano D'Agostino, who volleyed over from the edge of the area.

Gianluca Comotto then sent a free header wide of the post from seven yards out. Fiorentina could have been made to pay for missing a second as Cesena laid siege to their goal late on without, however, finding a way to seriously test Artur Boruc in the home team's goal.