Fiorentina deny Samp top spot
Sampdoria were brought crashing down to earth as they lost their 100 per cent start to the Serie A season at Fiorentina on Wednesday.
The Blucerchiati went into the game at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on top of the Italian tree, but found themselves a goal down after 24 minutes thanks to the impressive Stevan Jovetic. Alberto Gilardino added a deserved second for Cesare Prandelli's men after 66 minutes as they put Sunday's 3-1 defeat by Roma behind them.
Samp began with confidence befitting a side with four consecutive wins to their name. Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastian Frey showed great reflexes to push away Antonio Cassano's volley following a third-minute corner.
At the other end, Gilardino missed a great chance for the hosts. Jovetic did well to backheel the ball to Gilardino who, alone in front of Luca Castellazzi, put the ball wide of the far post. Fiorentina were on top now, though, and Juan Vargas sent a 19th-minute free-kick towards Jovetic, whose nice touch with his heel went just wide.
A minute later, Viola winger Marco Marchionni cut inside from the right but was halted by Daniele Mannini, who put the ball behind, and Vargas' shot from the resulting corner went wide. But a goal seemed to be coming and it arrived after 25 minutes when Jovetic, unmarked, rose to head home Marchionni's cross from close range.
The Viola needed another fine save from Frey to keep them ahead on the half-hour mark as Mannini shot on target after a neat one-two with Giampaolo Pazzini. And Frey again denied Pazzini a minute later when he turned and shot from the edge of the box following a cross from Marco Padalino.
Castellazzi twice saved in the run-up to the interval, first keeping out Jovetic's effort after a nice move from the hosts, then repelling Marco Donadel's 35-yard effort. Fiorentina continued to play well after the restart with Vargas and Jovetic particularly impressing.
And it was no surprise when the Peru international was involved in the second goal after 66 minutes, providing a pinpoint cross from the left for Gilardino to head home. Castellazzi got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out.
Another cross from Vargas seven minutes later was headed wide by Marchionni, before Castellazzi kept the deficit at two when Mario Santana latched onto Fernando Tissone's deflected pass to fire on goal. At the other end, Cassano played a nice ball over the top for Nicola Pozzi, who beat the offside trap but, by a whisker, was unable to connect with the ball for a tap-in.
And the Viola could have had a third in the last ten minutes when Jovetic, Gilardino and Vargas linked up well, with the latter sending a first-time diagonal shot wide of the far post. The result saw Samp surrender top spot by a point to Inter Milan, who beat Napoli 3-1, and also on goal difference fall behind Juventus, who travel to Genoa today. Fiorentina's win took them fourth, two points behind their opponents.
Champions Inter were in control from the opening whistle at the San Siro with two goals in the opening five minutes. Samuel Eto'o, Diego Milito and Lucio had Inter in the clear after the opening half-hour before Ezequiel Lavezzi pulled a goal back before half-time. In other matches, Bologna defeated Livorno 2-0 at home, Bari crashed 1-0 to visiting Cagliari, while Atalanta and Catania played out a scoreless draw.