Fiorentina cruise towards last 16
A devastating second-half spell put Fiorentina on their way to a third straight UEFA Champions League victory, as they closed in on a quarter-final spot. With Liverpool only drawing against Lyon, La Viola moved five points clear of their Group E rivals thanks to another goal-fest against basement boys Debrecen.
Fiorentina beat the Hungarians 4-3 away in the last round of matches, and it was a similar story today. Goals from Adrian Mutu and Gergely Rudolf saw the sides all square at half-time, but Dario Dainelli, Riccardo Montolivo and Marco Marchionni all struck between the 52nd and 61st minutes to take the game away from Debrecen. Adamo Coulibaly pulled one back before Alberto Gilardino netted the final goal of a frantic second half.
Fiorentina's victory over Catania in Serie A on Sunday ended their four-match winless run in Serie A and they began the stronger in Florence, with Marco Donadel heading wide from Juan Vargas's corner. And they took the lead inside the opening quarter of an hour. Marchionni crossed from the right and Mutu headed in from close range.
Debrecen have been having a miserable time of late, with a pointless European campaign compounded by poor form in Hungary. Luis Ramos and Debrecen hot-shot Rudolf fired in efforts but it was the hosts who continued to look the more threatening and Gilardino should have done better than head Vargas' free-kick over the bar.
The Peruvian was causing the visitors all sorts of problems from set-pieces and he swung over a corner in the 34th minute but Gilardino's frustrating night continued as his header bounced off the bar. Alessandro Gamberini had to be replaced by Per Kroldrup for the hosts and minutes later Debrecen levelled thanks to a brilliant piece of skill from Rudolf.
Leandro swung in a cross from deep and the striker, sliding in and at full stretch, hooked the ball into the corner seven minutes before the break. Gilardino was then denied again, this time by a good block from Pantic, but the Italians could count themselves fortunate to go in level at half-time as Vlada Avramov flapped at a corner and Leandro headed just wide.
Mutu got the second half under way by firing in a shot from 18 yards that Pantic did brilliantly to tip round the post. Pantic was fast becoming a one-man wall as he kept out shots from Mutu and half-time substitute Montolivo but he was a fraction late getting to a cross from Gianluca Comotto in the 52nd minute and Dainelli headed Fiorentina back in front, taking a punch from the keeper for his troubles.
The hosts had begun the second half with all guns blazing and they all but made sure of the three points when Montolivo stretched to turn in Vargas' cross. Their third goal in nine minutes came moments later, Marchionni taking Vargas's clever pass and neatly dinking over the keeper.
Debrecen responded with Coulibaly forcing Avramov into a decent save and the goalscoring continued in the 70th minute when the substitute was given all the time in the world to head in Peter Szakaly's cross. Fiorentina were not done, though, and Gilardino finally added his name to the scoresheet courtesy of another brilliant Vargas free-kick four minutes later.