Mario Gomez ended a near 200-day wait for a goal, his joy shared by ACF Fiorentina team-mate Josip Iličić, while Juventus scorer Arturo Vidal says the 1-1 draw leaves the tie 50-50.
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Mario Gomez scored his first goal since 1 September as ACF Fiorentina came away from Juventus with a 1-1 UEFA Europa League round of 16 draw – and fellow Viola forward Josip Iličić told UEFA.com: "I know exactly how Mario is feeling." Gomez, who suffered a serious knee injury soon after moving from FC Bayern München last summer, levelled with 11 minutes left to cancel out a strike from Arturo Vidal, who views both teams' chances going into next Thursday's return as "50-50".
Arturo Vidal, Juventus goalscorer
We played very well in the first half, less well in the second, but we drew and now we have to go out to win the game in Florence. In the second half they played better than us with the ball, they created a couple of good opportunities, while we lowered our tempo a bit.
It's a great season for me, but I would prefer to win the Scudetto and the Europa League than score goals. There are still 90 minutes to play and the chances are still 50-50.
Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus goalkeeper
We thought we could defend our lead in the second half, but Fiorentina have talented players who can quickly hurt you. It was similar to the league game on Sunday [which Juventus won 1-0] – they hit the bar in the latter stages of that game, while they scored this time around. They played a long ball to Gomez and he scored. But then, he is a great player, he is not new to this game. It's a pity because we were confident of bringing the victory home.
In the final five minutes we risked conceding again. Fortunately we didn't because with a draw everything is still in the balance, while a defeat would have made everything really difficult for us.
Josip Iličić, Fiorentina forward
It's an important draw for us, but we haven't done anything yet. We know Juve are a very strong side who can turn things around in an instant and we will have to be very careful.
We tried to keep possession for the whole game and finally we managed to score the goal. Now we will wait for the return leg and see what happens. The only thing that counts is that we scored – it's not important who made the assist or who scored. The important thing is to earn a good result as a team.
Obviously it's important [that Gomez scored]. After an injury it's never easy to get back to form. It's the same with me as I've come back from two serious injuries and I know exactly how Mario is feeling after this goal.
A 0-0 draw will be enough in Florence, but we aren't thinking at all about that – we only look to play well and see what happens. As I said, we have done nothing yet so our chances are the same as they were before this game.
Mario Gomez, Fiorentina goalscorer
When you come back, you need a bit of time for things to be perfect. I knew I needed to train a lot and I've done that. I noticed in the past two or three games that I was getting my strength back. Maybe it wasn't so obvious, but that's the reason I was so happy tonight. When you come on and everybody expects Gomez to score, it's not so easy. It was massive for me today.
It was a good result, but it's still going to be difficult in the second leg. It's not easy to play here against a strong side like Juventus. It's not done yet, though, because there is the return leg to play.