Fiorentina came very close to undoing all of their good work during their Europa Conference League quarter-final second leg against Lech Poznan with Vincenzo Italiano’s side coming close to being knocked out.
La Viola came into the game at the Stadio Artemio Franchi with a commanding lead in the tie as they beat their Polish opposition 4-1 the week before. It seemed that it would be a formality for Fiorentina to make it into a European semi-final.
As it was, they found themselves 3-0 down and were staring down the barrel of extra time. Two late goals meant that the game ended 3-2 (6-4 on aggregate) and extra time was avoided, but Italiano will have learned a lot from some of his players.
Lech Poznan fight their way back in Florence
Lech Poznan are only third in the Polish top flight which means they are having a pretty poor season by their usual domestic standards. This tournament is where they have found joy and they suddenly remembered that.
Afonso Sousa gave them the perfect start after nine minutes but they weren’t able to immediately build on it in the first half, meaning Fiorentina likely thought they’d managed to weather any sort of storm.
As it was, the storm was yet to come. A penalty from Kristoffer Velde in the 65th minute and a 69th-minute goal from Artur Sobiech suddenly meant that the tie was going to extra time, and the fans were audibly not happy about it.
Fiorentina snap into life
It took this very serious scare for Fiorentina to burst into life and they opted for the correct tactic of pushing for a goal of their own, rather than just trying to see out the final 20 minutes and inviting the pressure.
It paid off as Riccardo Sottil’s shot from close range with 12 minutes to go led to an audible sigh of relief at the Franchi, and then Gaetano Castrovilli grabbed a similar goal of his own to ensure Fiorentina avoid an embarrassing exit.
They wait to see whether they will be facing Nice or Basel in the next round.