Patience was key for Andrea Pirlo as his free-kick earned Juventus victory at ACF Fiorentina, whose defender Nenad Tomović groaned: "In an instant we lost everything."
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Patience was the key for Andrea Pirlo after his wonderful free-kick earned Juventus a 1-0 victory at ACF Fiorentina and qualification for the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals. "We knew Fiorentina were going to start strong but matches last 90 minutes," the midfielder told UEFA.com. Pirlo's goal, coming as it did immediately after Gonzalo Rodríguez's sending-off, killed off the round of 16 tie according to Nenad Tomović, who said: "In an instant we lost everything."
Andrea Pirlo, Juventus goalscorer
We knew Fiorentina were going to start strong, but we prepared for that, knowing that matches last 90 minutes. We had to handle the game in the best possible way, knowing we needed to score. Finally we managed to do it and we brought the result home.
What changed in the second half? We knew we had to score because 0-0 was not enough for us, so we stepped it up, we put them in their own half and finally we earned a deserved victory.
I always enjoy playing and I just hope to continue like this. The free-kick was different [from the one struck against Genoa CFC at the weekend], but just as important.
Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus defender
We knew it was going to be a tough game because they really wanted to win, but so did we. We are fully aware that we are a very good team and if we remain humble we can go far. We had to suffer but we advanced from a very difficult tie so now we can celebrate. Not for long, though, because we have an important game against Catania on Sunday. We will not ease off in Serie A until we have mathematically won the Scudetto.
Paul Pogba, Juventus midfielder
We played exactly as we had to against Fiorentina, especially because we still remember the game we lost here [4-2 in Serie A in October]. We are really happy because we showed our great will to win tonight, our great motivation. Who would I like to avoid in the quarter-finals? Nobody in particular because we don't fear any team. We play our football, we are Juve – we don't have to think too much about the opposition. We were very happy in the dressing room, we celebrated a great victory together.
Nenad Tomović, Fiorentina defender
I think Juventus deserved to qualify but we also played well, especially in the first half when we created a few opportunities and we were unlucky. Maybe if we scored first, the game would have turned out differently. Then they scored at a difficult time for us just after Gonzalo [Rodríguez] was sent off and I think the game was over after that. We had a good start, both physically and tactically as we closed Juve down. It was a positive game at the beginning but in an instant we lost everything.
Now we have to take positives and negatives, look ahead and prepare for the next game against Napoli, which is very important for us. We played well but Juve deserved to qualify. I think we slowed down only after going down to ten men and conceding immediately after. It was almost like a penalty and we did not have the strength to respond. Pirlo is just incredible, he scored a marvellous goal.
Alberto Aquilani, Fiorentina midfielder
A single episode changed the game, the tie, qualification, everything. I think we should be proud of ourselves because we played at the same level as one of the best teams in Europe, we were close to advancing, very close, and that's our biggest regret. However, the season is far from over and we have to finish strongly in Serie A and try to win the Coppa Italia final.