An inspired performance from Adrian Mutu helped ACF Fiorentina to a thrilling 4-3 victory away to Debreceni VSC which strengthens the Viola's grip on second place in Group E.
Debrecen also conceded four at home to section leaders Olympique Lyonnais last time out and are still searching for a first UEFA Champions League point in their debut campaign, but can draw much hope from tonight's showing. They scored their first group-stage goal as Péter Czvitkovics fired them in front early on, only for two Mutu strikes and another from Alberto Gilardino to put the visitors 3-1 ahead. Gergely Rudolf and Fiorentina's Mario Santana then traded goals before Adamo Coulibaly headed in two minutes from time to set up a frantic finale.
It capped a stunning encounter which had begun when, with the fans still settling into their seats, Czvitkovics slid in at the far post to convert a teasing deep cross from newly-capped Hungary midfielder József Varga. Debrecen's joy was short-lived and four minutes later Mutu turned in the equaliser with a calm side-footed finish following Dario Dainelli's right-wing delivery.
Mutu and Gilardino were in inspired mood. It was Mutu's ball from a Juan Vargas slide-rule pass into the box which allowed Gilardino – who missed Matchday 2's 2-0 defeat of Liverpool FC through suspension – to fire the visitors in front on ten minutes. Vargas had hit the crossbar moments earlier in a rampant Fiorentina spell. Mutu's second of the evening, before 20 minutes were up, struck the post as it fizzed its way in. Gilardino had returned the favour to his strike partner with a subtle lay-off after bundling his way past defenders Norbert Mészáros and Leandro.
Incredibly, those goals were upstaged by something even better as Debrecen pulled a goal back when Rudolf rounded off a solo run with a stunning curling finish from a tight angle on the left edge of the box which gave Sébastien Frey no chance. The French goalkeeper had gone 428 minutes without conceding prior to Saturday's 1-1 draw at Juventus, yet here faced up to the rare sensation of picking the ball out of the back of the net for the second time.
A sixth goal followed eight minutes before the break, a strike which highlighted Debrecen's difficulties in defending the second ball. Mutu's near-post shot was well saved by Vukašin Poleksić but the rebound fell to Santana, who side-footed in via a slight deflection off Zoltán Szélesi. Early in the second period Mutu could have completed his hat-trick but sent an unmarked diving header wide from close range.
Coulibaly three times went close to pulling a goal back for the Hungarian champions before finally heading in László Bodnár's free-kick with two minutes to play, although the drama ended there. Fiorentina will hope to take another step towards finishing in the top two when they host the return fixture on 4 November.