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Groningen made to pay the penalty

ACF Fiorentina 1-1 FC Groningen (agg: 2-2 aet, Fiorentina win 4-3 on pens) The Italian side held on to claim a hard-fought victory on spot-kicks.

Groningen's Rasmus Lindgren challenges Christian Vieri
Groningen's Rasmus Lindgren challenges Christian Vieri ©Getty Images

ACF Fiorentina were the only Italian side to qualify for the UEFA Cup group stage but needed penalties to overcome Groningen FC at the Artemio Franchi stadium.

Penalty joy
Jewgen Lewlsjenko and Rasmus Lindgren both missed spot-kicks in the shootout after the match had ended 1-1, and 2-2 on aggregate, after 120 minutes. Adrian Mutu had earlier cancelled out Erik Nevland's opener for the visitors as Fiorentina claimed a result that ensured they would not join fellow Serie A sides Empoli FC, US Città di Palermo and UC Sampdoria in early elimination.

Fiorentina chances
The hosts enjoyed the better of the early stages and almost took the lead after eight minutes when a deflected Riccardo Montolivo shot narrowly missed the target, and the midfielder forced Groningen goalkeeper Brian van Loo into a fine save shortly afterwards. Mutu then failed to make the most of two good opportunities, shooting wide and hitting the bar from close range.

Nevland opener
Groningen were on the back foot but created two chances before half-time as Marcus Berg set up first-leg scorer Goran Lovre to flash an effort just past the post, before Lewlsjenko hit a powerful drive narrowly over. Ten minutes into the second period they did get the opening goal, as Nevland curled a fine shot into the top corner from just outside the area.

Frey heroics
Groningen's lead lasted only three minutes as Montolivo found Mutu inside the penalty box and the forward beat Van Loo with a precise low shot. The Dutch side battled back, with Sébastien Frey forced to save twice from Lovre and then from Lewlsjenko in the additional 30 minutes. The French goalkeeper would emerge victorious from the ensuing penalty shootout too, with Alberto Santana the only Fiorentina player not to convert in a 4-3 win.