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Lille OSC 2-0 AC Fiorentina (aggregate 3-0). AC Fiorentina went out of the UEFA Cup with a 2-0 defeat to Lille OSC in their third round second-leg tie at the Grimonprez-Jooris stadium.
A goal in each half from Bruno Cheyrou and substitute Mile Sterjovski saw LOSC triumph over the Serie A side and, to add to coach Roberto Mancini's misery, Andrea Tarozzi was dismissed for a second bookable offence with 14 minutes to go.
By that time, the game was already severely balanced in the home side's favour. A goal ahead from the first leg at the Artemio Franchi stadium, Vahid Halilhodzic's side showed no intention of playing for a draw and went out to kill the game off in the first half.
They did not quite manage to do that, but they had a good try. Dagui Bakari and Salaheddine Bassir were tireless in attack and Cheyrou and Stéphane Pichot provided excellent service from the flanks. It was only down to perceptive defending that LOSC did not take an early lead, but a goal was clearly coming.
Eventually the two wingers combined to open the scoring on 32 minutes. Pichot's cross from the right wing found Cheyrou bursting into the box, and he headed the ball past Fiorentina goalkeeper Alex Manninger and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net with clinical precision.
It was little more than LOSC had deserved after a meek first-half performance from their visitors had allowed them to totally dominate possession. Nuno Gomes was a lonely figure in attack for Fiorentina and they barely had a chance until late in the second half. On 43 minutes it was almost 2-0 after Bakari's excellent run and shot saw Manninger beaten only for the ball to cannon off his left-hand goalpost and away to safety.
Tarozzi sees red
After a promising start to the second half for the visitors, LOSC got back into their stride and denied the Italian side possession. However, Fiorentina looked to be building for a dramatic finish before disaster struck after 76 minutes and Tarozzi received his second yellow card following a clash with Bassir.
Sterjovski makes sure
On 77 minutes Bassir was replaced by Sterjovski and just moments later the substitute scored LOSC's second. Sterjovski accepted a short pass from Bakari, swept past two defenders and tucked the ball underneath the on-rushing Manninger for a superb individual goal.
After that hammer blow, Fiorentina continued to attack with Nuno Gomes and Mirko Benin both putting shots wide of Grégory Wimbée's post and LOSC defender Mathieu Delpierre doing superbly to dispossess Marco Rossi as he ran through for what seemed to be a gilt-edged goalscoring opportunity. However, LOSC retained their lead and, with it, a richly deserved place in the fourth round.
"When we scored first I knew the game was finished," said LOSC coach Vahid Halilhodzic. "We totally deserved to qualify. We neutralised their midfield so that Fiorentina could not get the ball to Nuno Gomes - we knew that they would try to use him and we stopped them doing that. In 90 minutes they did not have one shot on goal.
"Since September we have played a game every three days, but by resting all of my players and rotating the squad I have succeeded in putting them in the right mental and physical state for this game."
Fiorentina coach Roberto Mancini was disappointed with the final score, but said that injuries had ruined his side's chances of qualifying. "Of course we would have liked to go further but we had so many players missing for these two games that I had to play with one forward," he said. "All the rest of them are on the injury list and of course, if you can't score goals it is totally impossible to qualify."
Too many injuries
Mancini continued: "I hoped that the midfield could link up with Nuno Gomes but it didn't work. At half-time I brought on Ezequiel González to help give the team some more width, but he is not a real forward and he couldn't really do much more. Still, there are some positive signs. We have played with five 18-year-olds and I feel they have done well. Now we have to concentrate on Serie A and there is only one thing I need to improve our league position - to have my injured players back. That is the only way."
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