Goals from Valery Vigilucci and Ilaria Mauro gave Fiorentina a healthy lead at home in their first UEFA Women’s Champions League game against Fortuna Hjorring, as late strike from Signe Bruun enough to leave the tie finely poised going into the reverse leg.
A little rough around the edges, Fiorentina had the better of it over the first ten minutes, their higher possession a solid reminder of who was the home team and who the away. However, the hosts struggled to find the fluidity in attack and saw most early moves snuffed out by the travelling opposition, the crowd more than happy to back those in purple.
Disjointed up top and fragile in defence, ACF were given a few nervous moments in the first quarter hour, those in white and green pressing well to force mistakes and get good numbers in the box. Frederikke Thørgersen the live-wire for the Danish side, her flicks and touches tying the play together as the hosts struggled to deal with her.
More good work from Thørgersen brought about the first corner of the tie twenty minutes in, the ball well enough dealt with by the Italian champions who continued to look a little off colour, their last outing a late point snatched against AGSM Verona – not the start to the season, anyone in Fiorentina would have wanted. Having struggled against a familiar foe, the Violas found themselves grappling with a new and different one, their own play broken up and usually solid defence left looking at odds.
Better from Fiorentina
A meaningful drive up the left flank by captain Alia Guagni had the crowd in full-voice again as she wrestled with Luna Gewitz in the box, the move enough to bring a corner that was punched somewhat clear by Maria Christiansen. The attempted pass to keep the ball alive from Valery Vigilucci, the attack fast broken down as the visitors counted with purpose. Stephanie Öhrström on hand to make a super save from Signe Brunn after a perfectly timed sliding-tackle had seen Nevena Damjanovic robbed of the chance to let fly from the top of the box as she shaped to shoot. Everyone suddenly back for the hosts, the resulting corner again well dealt-with, the ball pinged from one end of the pitch to the other as the two teams fought for dominance or just a counter-attack that carried a reward.
As the half trickled towards the break, the hosts dug in to look more resolute in attack, persistent work in the box from Patrizia Caccamo saw the attacker win a corner for a deflected shot. The deadball sent low towards the first man – much to the discontent of the home fans – before it worked its way out to Vigilucci. Her lob from range an absolute screamer than left Christiansen with no chance, the ball looping over the ‘keeper and slamming into the back of the net with a flourish.
Aside from geeing the hungry crowd up, the goal brought the Viola together, the hosts finding more attacking harmony on the pitch as they looked for a quick-fire second. Another tussle on the far side of the box saw massive shouts from the home contingent in the crowd, a purple shirt down but Sofia Karagiorgi stood firm waving away any claims, much to the dismay of the hosts.
Double delight for the Italians
The hosts rode out early second-half pressure from Fortuna before resettling into the match, once more looking dangerous as they strung passes together.
Despite more of a stilted half, Fiorentina did well to take their next meaningful chance when it came, the cross into the box perfect for the lone purple shirt of Ilaria Mauro, her header plum to once again leave the ‘keeper rooted. Again the stadium rocked, the two thousand strong crowd almost able to taste a last sixteen tie.
A free kick at the opposite end gave the Danes something to go at, the delivery not the best but yet they were given a chance to reset at a corner, Öhrström’s punch not as meaningful as she hoped. The ball bounced between feet until the flag was lofted in the air, the ball between the Swede’s safe hands anyway.
Clean footwork from Caccamo saw the attacker dance around the box before letting fly, Christiansen’s reaction save all to deny her. The resulting corner only served to heap more pressure on the visitors, the ball flicked on and sent home by Guagni, the crowd incensed as the flag was again raised. The game began to drag, the home side comfortable and still having the better of it.
Hope left for the visitors
Despite having looked off of the pace since conceding, the visitors managed to bring the ball away and mount another good attack, Bruun afforded far too much space in the box, as she spun her marker, to dig the ball out and curl it home.
The goal momentarily unsettled the Violas as the game began to go back to its first-half rhythm, counter after counter, the Italians still looking more dangerous with it, Vigilucci denied a second late in the day by the upright. The ball sent back to the other end of the pitch, the Danes having regained a little of their spark though laboured against the resolute defence unwilling it concede another.
White and green shirts began to mass in the home box again, Fiorentina desperately holding on as the visitors undid themselves, mistiming their efforts and firing straight at the ‘keeper, the tension raising by the minute. Nervy throughout all four minutes of stoppage time as Fortuna desperately searched for an equaliser, heaping on as much late pressure as possible the Viola stood firm to carry their advantage with them to Denmark.