Rolando Mandragora stunner leaves Fiorentina in pole position to reach final

By Sports Desk April 03, 2024

Rolando Mandragora’s wonder strike gave Fiorentina a slender 1-0 advantage in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Atalanta.

The 26-year-old lashed home a spectacular shot from outside the penalty area in off a post in the first half and that was all the home side had to show for their dominance.

Sixth-placed Atalanta are currently four places and seven points better off than Fiorentina in Serie A, but will be relieved to have left the Stadio Artemio Franchi with just a one-goal deficit.

Fiorentina, who beat Bologna 5-4 on penalties in the quarter-finals, wasted a string of chances either side of half-time.

Nicolas Gonzalez had an early shot blocked and Giacomo Bonaventura fired narrowly wide from outside the penalty area as Fiorentina made the more enterprising start.

Nikola Milenkovic headed wide for La Viola and Lucas Beltran’s effort from a tight angle was held by Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi before Mandragora gave the home side a deserved lead in stunning fashion.

The defensive midfielder unleashed a swerving, dipping shot from 30 yards, which crashed against Carnesecchi’s right-hand post and into the net.

Gonzalez fired wide as Fiorentina looked to double their advantage at the end of the first half in which Atalanta, 3-0 winners at reigning champions Napoli on Saturday, failed to have one effort on target.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, 2-1 winners at AC Milan in the last eight, were much-improved after the break.

Defender Isak Hien’s shot was well saved by Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano and Berat Djimsiti’s effort was blocked.

Fiorentina threatened to double their lead through Gonzalez, who was twice denied by Carnesecchi, and as the game opened up, Atalanta defender Mitchel Bakker fired a low angled shot wide.

Andrea Belotti’s header for Fiorentina was blocked and Luca Ranieri spurned a golden chance when shooting wide from close range following a corner.

Gianluca Scamacca went close to an Atalanta equaliser with 10 minutes left, but the Italy striker’s fierce low shot from the edge of the box was superbly saved by Terracciano.

Atalanta defender Emil Holm saw a late header comfortably saved by Terracciano as the two sides played out a goalless, but entertaining, second period.

The return leg is on April 24 and the winners will play Juventus or Lazio in the final in Rome on May 15.

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