Fiorentina 1-0 Belenenses: Babacar inspires Viola qualification
Fiorentina defeated Belenenses 1-0 in the Europa League at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Thursday evening.
The Viola required a draw in order to progress through to the later rounds of the competition and secured qualification with all three points after Khouma Babacar scored late in the second half.
Fiorentina dominated the majority of the opening 45 minutes, with Brazilian youngster Gilberto proving to be a highlight on his return from injury, as he produced dazzling skills on the right hand side to embarrass his opponents and send in numerous dangerous crosses.
Babacar came close to opening the scoring for Paolo Sousa’s team in the 25th minute from a corner, as he smacked his header against the crossbar.
Giuseppe Rossi then showed a flash of brilliance just before the half-time whistle as he twisted and turned on the edge of the box, though was unable to keep his powerful shot on target as it whistled just wide of the near post.
Despite the Viola’s dominance it was Belenenses who almost took a shock lead just minutes after play resumed, as a defensive error from Davide Astori almost saw the Italian boot the ball into his own net. Fortunately for the Gigliati, keeper Luigi Sepe was on hand to knock the ball over the bar.
It took a smart piece of teamwork for Fiorentina to finally regain control of the game and break the deadlock 20 minutes from time, as Rossi linked up well with Manuel Pasqual on the left hand side before sending Babacar through on goal, a move which the Senegalese youngster finished off neatly.
The game began to tail off from then on, with the home side untroubled by the visitors advances and happy to hold out for the win.