The Viola may still be in sixth place, but today's performance showed Serie A fans exactly where Vincenzo Montella wants to take his squad: to the Champions League. Inter, meanwhile, looked completely out of their depth, only able to score a consolation goal late in the second half.
After looking as though they'd totally forgotten how to play the sport against Juventus last week, Fiorentina decided revenge was best sought by thoroughly humiliating Inter Milan on Sunday night. From the beginning, the home side had total control of the match, and the Viola barely let up throughout, even though they'd scored their four goals by the 65th minute.
The complete and utter haplessness of Inter was underlined by the Fiorentina supporters, who were heard chanting to the visitors, "The ball's that yellow thing." Considering it took until the 28th minute for the nerazzurri to record their first shot, and to the 87th to get a shot on target, the Viola fans could be forgiven for thinking maybe the competition needed a bit of direction.
It took just three minutes for Inter keeper Samir Handanovic to be called into action, smothering a shot from Stevan Jovetic. At that point, only psychics had realized just how essential the Slovene's stops would be to the match -- without his handiwork, the score could have easily been 5-0 at the break. Andrea Stramaccioni's back line, now back to a four rather than his lauded three, looked completely out of their depth.
Jovetic, unable to get past Handanovic, turned provider instead, setting up Fiorentina's first goal. The playmaker headed the ball on to Adem Ljajic, who continued the process, getting his head under the ball and scooping it past the keeper. Turns out that was Ljajic's first headed goal for the Viola.
The home side then engaged in a simple target practice, directing shot after shot toward the Inter goal. It took until the 33rd minute, however, for Jovetic to finally get past Handanovic. The goal was well worth the wait, however: an absolutely stunning long range shot that the keeper could do nothing about.
With the score 2-0 at the break, and an ominous sense of doom hovering over the Inter players, it seemed Strama would have to do something when play resumed. And he did. He replaced young Mateo Kovacic, who'd actually been having a decent Serie A debut, with Ricky Alvarez. Needless to say, this had little impact upon the match.
Instead Fiorentina picked up right where they'd left off. Alberto Aquilani sent in a fantastic backheel to Jojo, who, for reasons no one has yet to fathom, was frolicking about, unmarked, in front of Inter's goal. It was easy enough for him to slot past Handanovic, bagging his brace in the process.
Ljajic, who'd earned a rare start by being the one bright spot in last week's horror show, was determined not to be outdone by Jovetic. He pounced on a ball from Bojan Valero -- who himself must be quite upset at being stopped multiple times by Handanovic -- and quickly put one past the keeper.
Apparently Vincenzo Montella thought it would be poor form to continue running circles around the nerazzurri, and allowed Jovetic, Juan Cuadrado and David Pizarro the chance to hit the showers early. That may have been the reason Inter found a consolation goal in the dying minutes. Or it may have been the fact that Antonio Cassano was simply extremely upset about being forced to play with such an incompetent squad. Either way, the veteran delivered a stinging strike to score his side's only goal.
Fiorentina: Emiliano Viviano, Stefan Savic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Nenad Tomovic, Manuel Pasqual, Borja Valero, David Pizarro (Momo Sissoko 69), Alberto Aquilani, Juan Cuadrado (Cristian Llama 83), Stevan Jovetic (Mounir El Hamdaoui 73), Adem Ljajic
Inter Milan: Samir Handanovic. Javier Zanetti, Andrea Ranocchia, Juan Jesus, Yuto Nagatomo, Zdravko Kuzmanovic, Mateo Kovacic (Ricardo Alvarez 46), Esteban Cambiasso, Fredy Guarin (Álvaro Pereira 51), Antonio Cassano, Rodrigo Palacio (Ezequiel Schelotto 76)
Goals: Ljajic 13 (F), Jovetic 33 (F), Jovetic 55 (F), Ljajic 65 (F), Antonio Cassano 87 (I)