Juventus took possession of the Italian Cup semi-final on Wednesday after Lorenzo Venuti’s late own goal gave the visitors a 1-0 victory on Dusan Vlahovic’s return to Florence.
Venuti left the field in tears after deflecting a Juan Cuadrado cross into his own net in the opening minute of stoppage time to give Juve the win and a potentially crucial away goal.
Serbian attacker Vlahovic was back at the Stadio Artemio Franchi for the first time since moving to Turin in January, but found little joy for the exhausted Juve in a tense game that lacked quality.
“It was a difficult game because we missed so many players, but we managed to keep order and improve,” Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri told Mediaset.
“Physically and mentally we are doing well, now we have to put this game aside and look at the weekend.”
The draw will be decided next month at the Alianz Stadium, with the winners facing off against AC Milan or Inter Milan — which tied 0-0 on Tuesday — in the May final in Rome.
“I don’t know what more I could have asked for, we had 22 shots and got almost nothing in the back,” said Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Italiano.
“We still have the second leg and we are going to Turin to play our own game.”
Fiorentina fans had promised a fervent welcome to former hero Vlahovic, whose departure to fierce rivals Juve for an initial €70m ($80.2m) ended months of speculation about the 22-year-old’s future.
– Welcome to Hell –
He had infuriated Viola fans by refusing to sign a contract extension, which owner Rocco Commisso said would have made him the highest-paid player in the club’s history.
Home fans made a huge noise with the 10,000 whistles being handed out creating a blistering noise, and the teams came out for a huge display featuring the medieval Florentine poet Dante surrounded by flames.
A banner aimed at Vlahovic quoted Canto 26 from “Inferno,” a passage from the eighth circle of hell about the fate of those who enable fraud.
However, their former player’s high-profile barracks were humiliated by a large group of Fiorentina fans who ignored the club’s plea not to racially insult Vlahovic. upwards.
As the match went on, the players reacted to a booming atmosphere with frenetic football without composure.
Juventus had nine players absent, and Denis Zakaria became the latest in a long line on the treatment table on Monday alongside Paulo Dybala, Federico Chiesa, Giorgio Chiellini and Weston McKennie.
Fiorentina’s closest came in the first half when Jonathan Ikone stepped in and tricked Mattia De Sciglio before dragging inches wide.
France international Ikone came closer shortly after the break, curling a shot from the outside of the post after being sent in by Lucas Torreira and again pushing De Sciglio aside.
Vlahovic’s only good chance and Juve’s only shot on target, a misplaced lob, was then tagged away in the 56th minute by Pietro Terracciano.
From there, the game seemed to be heading for a stalemate, until the hapless Venuti gave Juventus a goal, making their passage to the final much more likely.