A second-half header from Gonzalo Rodríguez gave Fiorentina a 1-0 win over Livorno on Sunday. The three hard-fought points also put them joint third in Serie A.
Following the winter break, Vincenzo Montella made four changes to the Fiorentina side that beat Sassuolo 1-0 last time out, replacing Nenad Tomović, Marvin Compper, Manuel Pasqual and Massimo Ambrosini with Facundo Roncaglia, Gonzalo Rodríguez, David Pizarro and Juan Cuadrado. Davide Nicola also made four changes to his Livorno side that lost to Udinese with Leandro Rinaudo, Nahuel Valentini, Ibrahima Mbaye and Marco Benassi playing in place of Andrea Coda, Alessandro Lambrughi, Luca Siligardi and the suspended Emerson.
Unsurprisingly for a clash between the side in fourth and the side second-bottom of the table, Livorno were content to sit back and allow Fiorentina time on the ball, whilst looking for any opportunity to get forward on the counter. Maybe it was post-Christmas rustiness, but despite having the lion's share of possession, they were mainly reduced to long-range efforts, Facundo Roncaglia hitting one miles over and wide and Giuseppe Rossi forcing a save out of Francesco Bardi.
The two most influential Fiorentina men, Rossi and Borja Valero, combined just after the half-hour mark with Rossi's effort from just inside the box hitting the side netting after some promising build-up play.
Roncaglia was presented with another effort before half-time but he managed to deflect Valero's corner well wide from close range.
In the second half, both sides started with more verve than in the first, Marco Benassi firing wide for Livorno just after the break and Juan Cuadrado jinking his way into the box at the other end but his low effort was parried wide by Bardi. The resulting corner cannoned off Stefan Savić but Bardi was down well to gather the loose ball.
Fiorentina probably had the best opportunity of the match so far just before the hour mark as Giuseppe Rossi's cross-shot from the left was back-heeled goalwards by Juan Manuel Vargas, Bardi saving without really knowing where the ball was.
Livorno did have their chances, Ibrahima Mbaye actually coming closest to scoring soon after as he headed Leandro Greco's free kick against the crossbar however two minutes after this, Fiorentina went and took the lead. Rossi's close-range effort was deflected with and from the resulting corner, Gonzalo Rodríguez rose the highest to head the home side in front.
A worry for Fiorentina came on 70 minutes as Giuseppe Rossi limped off with a suspected sprained knee. With other senior striker Mario Gomez on the long-term injury list, the Viola will be hoping that the injury to Rossi isn't serious as we come to a crucial point in the season.
Livorno had a good opportunity to level the scores but Paulinho's effort was cleared off the line by Rodríguez and the follow-up header was acrobatically saved by Neto, who showed great concentration given he had been barely troubled up to this point.
An Alberto Aquilani free-kick was well saved by Bardi and inside the last ten minutes, Neto had to be on his toes again to save a rocket from Marco Benassi. Fiorentina were able to see out five minutes of stoppage time and they now go level on points with third-placed Napoli, who play tomorrow.
Fiorentina: Neto; Roncaglia, Rodríguez, Savić; Cuadrado, Aquilani, Pizarro, Vargas; Valero (Ambrosini 81); Iličić (Joaquin 62), Rossi (Matos 71)
Goals: Rodríguez 66
Livorno: Bardi; Valentini, Rinaudo, Ceccherini (Emeghara 84); Mbaye, Benassi (Siligardi 88), Biagianti (Duncan 90 +2), Schiattarella; Luci; Greco; Paulinho