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Defender Lorenzo De Silvestri believes the character ACF Fiorentina showed in their 1-0 win against Olympique Lyonnais that sealed the Viola's last-16 place will be crucial to any future success in the UEFA Champions League. "If we keep that spirit going we'll keep making good progress," he said.
Before the match Fiorentina knew it was likely they would need to beat Lyon for the first time in four attempts to reach the first knockout round, a stage of the competition they have not experienced for ten years. After Liverpool FC, their rivals for the second qualifying spot from Group E, took an early lead against Debreceni VSC the pressure was really on. The Serie A side rose to the occasion, creating numerous chances in the opening 45 minutes and taking the lead through Juan Vargas's penalty.
They then had to dig deep, hanging on at the end thanks to goalkeeper Sébastien Frey who pulled off a series of fine saves. "When the draw was made we thought we'd be really up against it with Liverpool and Lyon in our section," said De Silvestri, "but after losing the first game we have won four straight, so we're celebrating and absolutely delighted at the result."
De Silvestre's inclusion in the side was something of a surprise. The Italy Under-21 captain joined the Gigliati from S.S. Lazio in the summer and has had to battle hard for a place at right-back, where competition is intense. "I worked really hard for this opportunity. I think I played well but tonight was all about victory for the squad. We have great team spirit here and you could see that at the end when we all got together and hugged each other. If we keep that spirit going we'll keep making good progress in this competition."
It could have been a different story had Frey not saved from Jean II Makoun and Lisandro in a frenetic last few minutes and De Silvestri was quick to pay tribute to the Frenchman. "We know we've got one of the best goalkeepers around. We have the utmost respect for him and there's no doubt we feel a lot safer with him in goal." The win took Fiorentina two points clear of Lyon at the top of the group and five ahead of Liverpool, whom they visit in two weeks' time. "I haven't really thought about playing for first place in the next match because we've just reached the last 16 and it's only just sinking in," continued the 21-year-old. "It's a historic feat for Fiorentina and from a personal point of view I feel I've removed a stone from my shoe too. There were those who said leaving my previous club was effectively sporting suicide. Tonight I proved them wrong."
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