Fiorentina moved ever closer to cementing fourth place in the Serie A table with a 5-3 win over Hellas Verona on Sunday. Despite going a goal down early on, Vincenzo Montella's side roared back to take a deserved victory at the Marc'Antonio Bentegodi.
It took only a quarter of an hour before Hellas took the lead, with youngster Jacopo Sala netting his first professional goal on Italian soil. A quick counter-attack culminated in Fiorentina keeper Neto spilling a powerful Juan Iturbe shot right at the attacker, who dived to head beyond the helpless Brazilian.
The goal came against the run of play, though Fiorentina struggled to find the bark to match their bite. Borja Valero and David Pizarro both fired wide from long range before Juan Cuadrado finally netted a deserved equaliser just past the half hour. A smart one-two with Valero was dispatched inside Rafael's far post, and Hellas could have few complaints.
Before the halftime whistle the visitors assumed the lead, with Manuel Pasqual's low cross from the left tucked in at the far post by an unmarked Alberto Aquilani. With Verona having offered virtually nothing in attack since taking the early lead, they had to produce something special in the second half to draw level.
Unfortunately for the hosts they looked no better after the restart, with Fiorentina comfortably controlling possession and patiently probing in midfield. Eventually they had their reward in the 63rd minute, when Aquilani headed down across goal for the impressive Valero to tap in for three.
Verona's day went from bad to worse moments later, when they had midfielder Marco Donadel sent off for scything Cuadrado down with the Colombian sent through on goal. That didn't stop Luca Toni throwing the mastini a lifeline by converting a soft penalty after Pizarro tripped Iturbe in the box, though their late rally was swiftly ended with a penalty at the other end.
Fiorentina were awarded the spot-kick after a handball by Domenico Maietta, with substitute Alessandro Matri stepping up to finish. The rout was completed inside the final five minutes of normal time by Aquilani, who was left with an open goal after Rafael palmed Cuadrado's shot from the edge of the area right into his path.
Iturbe's goal in stoppage time proved nothing more than a consolation, though as far as consolations go, it was a rather pleasing one. He slalomed his way right through the viola defence before drilling the ball beyond Neto. Unfortunately for Verona, it's hard to see them hanging onto their prize asset for much longer.
Hellas Verona: Rafael; Agostini, Maietta, Moras, Cacciatore (Cirigliano 77'); Hallfreðsson, Donadel, Marquinho; Sala, Toni, Iturbe.
Goals: Sala (14'), Toni (pen. 73'), Iturbe (90+1').
Red cards: Donadel (69').
Fiorentina: Neto; Tomović, Savić, Rodríguez, Pasqual; Aquilani, Pizarro, Valero; Cuadrado, Iličić (Vargas 60'); Matos (Matri 68').
Goals: Cuadrado (31'), Aquilani (44', 86'), Valero (63'), Matri (pen. 83').