Fiorentina heap misery on Roma, Ajax win extra time thriller

Fiorentina heap misery on Roma, Ajax win extra time thriller

Fola Akintomide

Fiorentina tore apart Italian rivals AS Roma to reach the Europa League quarter-finals with a 3-0 win that left their opponents’ season in tatters and under-fire coach Rudi Garcia tottering on the brink of the sack.
Ajax scored a 117th-minute winner to beat Dnipro 2-1 in extra time and Napoli held off a spirited Dynamo Moscow to secure a 0-0 draw in Russia that gave them a 3-1 aggregate success Inter Milan went out as they lost 2-1 at home to Wolfsburg, with Nicklas Bendtner’s 89th minute winner clinching a 2-1 win on the night and a 5-2 aggregate scoreline. Sevilla won the all-Spanish battle against Villarreal, winning the away leg 2-1 to make it 5-2 on aggregate, while Zenit St Petersburg edged Torino 2-1 despite losing the second leg 1-0, and Bruges thumped Besiktas 3-1 at home to progress 5-2 onm aggregate.

But the biggest surprise arrived in Rome. The home side were 3-0 down before the match had settled into any sort of rhythm with Gonzalo Rodriguez, Marcos Alonso, Jose Maria Basanta all finding the net in a breathless opening 22 minutes on their way to 4-1 aggregate victory.

The triumph made it a night to remember for Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella against a club where he spent 10 years as a player and also had a spell as caretaker manager, but it was a miserable occasion for Garcia. The Roma coach said this week he would step aside the moment he felt he was becoming a burden to his team. The matter, however, may now be out of his hands with his side’s record of one win in their last nine games having seen their Serie A title challenge evaporate and their last realistic hope of a trophy ended by Fiore in embarrassing circumstances.

Roma got off to a terrible start when Rodriguez fired Fiorentina ahead from the spot in the 10th minute, having been made to retake his initial effort, after Jose Holebas felled Matias Fernandez in the area. Alonso doubled the advantage when Roma goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski palmed the ball into his path and left him to dribble into the empty net and then Basanta headed in powerfully from a corner to leave a dizzy Roma gasping for breath.

After a largely uneventful second half, the hosts were dealt another blow when Adem Ljajic was sent off for a second booking. Dynamo Kiev also enjoyed an emphatic victory over Everton that ended all English involvement in European competition this season. Everton manager Roberto Martinez was punching the air when Romelu Lukaku cancelled out Andriy Yarmolenko’s early opener.

But home goals from Lukasz Teodorczyk, Miguel Veloso, Oleh Gusev and Antunes turned the match into a rout before Everton’s Phil Jagielka grabbed a late consolation. Rafa Benitez’s Napoli reached the last eight of a European competition for the first time in 26 years after effectively doing the hard work against Dynamo Moscow in Naples last week. While Dynamo had two efforts correctly ruled out for offside in the first half, they struggled to carve open the Italians after the break with the visitors choosing to retreat deep into their own territory and soak up pressure. Benitez is seeking to become the second man after Giovanni Trapattoni to win the trophy for a third time after victories with Valencia in the 2004 UEFA Cup and Chelsea in the Europa League in 2013.

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