UEFA Cup – Fiorentina dominate Everton
Fiorentina bossed Everton with a 2-0 home win in their UEFA Cup last 16 first leg clash.
Everton were strangely off-colour, their collective touch letting them down and almost always on the back foot against a creative and direct Fiorentina, who won through second half goals by Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Riccardo Montolivio.
The opening period saw veteran striker Christian Vieri – who was surprisingly leading the line ahead of the younger, more mobile Giampaolo Pazzini – go close on two occasions, foiled first by Phil Jagielka and then his own wayward finishing, while Pablo Osvaldo and the impressive Dane Martin Jorgensen were both denied by the excellent Tim Howard, who was unlucky to concede twice and pick up a booking on his 29th birthday.
Just before the break Vieri saw Howard again perform heroics with a superb save at his near post, and Everton could count themselves fortunate to have gone in level at half time.
Howard continued his one-man show after the interval, palming behind from Montolivio before making a superb double save from Vieri and then Kuzmanovic just ahead of the hour mark.
But La Viola got their deserved goal when Tomas Ujfalusi found Kuzmanovic on the edge of the box for the Swiss-born Serbia midfielder to drive low into the bottom right on 69 minutes.
The floodgates threatened to open, yet more space made available for the hosts as the Toffees tried to get an equaliser. Fiorentina got their second with nine minutes remaining, a quick throw-in routine seeing substitute Mario Alberto Santana cleverly find Jorgensen, whose delightful flick was volleyed home with aplomb by Montolivio.
And they should have made it 3-0 when Everton stepped up too early to leave Argentine winger Santana onside, his attempted finish with the outside of the boot curling inches wide of the far post with Howard stranded.
Everton went close in injury time when Joleon Lescott headed the returning Mikel Arteta’s cross onto the roof of the net, but in truth 2-0 flattered David Moyes’s men and they now face a tough task to overhaul the deficit in the second leg next Wednesday.