Tottenham and Fiorentina ends all-square
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Tottenham Hotspur FC 1-1 ACF Fiorentina
This last-32 tie heads to Florence in the balance after José María Basanta cancelled out Roberto Soldado's fine volley in an even contest.
Article top media content
• Roberto Soldado ends a run of ten games without a goal with the opener
• José María Basanta equalises with his first European strike
• Fiorentina stretch unbeaten run on their travels in Europe to ten games
• The second leg is next Thursday in Italy, with the last 16 draw the following day
Roberto Soldado's return to form was not enough for Tottenham Hotspur FC as AFC Fiorentina earned a 1-1 draw.
Soldado had not scored in two months going into this UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg, but his superb early volley belied that dry spell. Spurs could not maintain their impetus, and José María Basanta equalised before a second half in which both teams had their half chances. Neither, though, could take a firm grip on the tie.
The omission of in-form Harry Kane raised eyebrows among the White Hart Lane faithful, but Soldado soon justified Mauricio Pochettino's faith. The Spaniard had already carved an opening for Nacer Chadli with a fine pass when he broke the deadlock on six minutes. Stealthily peeling away at the far post, he met Paulinho's corner with a sweet right-footed volley that pierced a congested penalty box and found the far corner.
It was Soldado's first goal in 11 games and the confidence it brought was palpable, exemplified by an audacious overhead kick that would have found the net had it not been directed straight at the keeper. In Mohamed Salah, the visitors carried their own threat, though, and the Egyptian international's incisive running always drew collective breath – his 2013 heroics for FC Basel 1893 are not forgotten in these parts.
Only great reflexes from Jan Vertonghen denied Salah as the game opened up, but when the equaliser came it was from Basanta, poking in after Hugo Lloris' parry had been deflected into his path. Back came Spurs, with Chadli scooping wastefully against the bar, and the game hung precariously in the balance from then on; nobody looked too unhappy with a 1-1 draw, however.