Azzurri painted purple

Viola striker secures World Cup qualification

Sam Griswold
October 22, 2009

Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino was Italy's hero on October 10 as his last-minute equalizer against Ireland earned the Azzurri a 2-2 draw in Dublin and ensured the defending World Cup Champions a place at this summer's World Cup in South Africa. Gilardino, who was brought on as a second-half substitute, scored in the 89th minute, three minutes after Ireland had taken the lead and was poised to take a historic victory.  Along with the qualification, the match also bore a special significance because Ireland is coached by former Italy and Fiorentina maestro, Giovanni Trapattoni, nicknamed ‘Trap'. Four days later, Gilardino followed up his marvelous evening with an impressive encore, when he scored a hat trick to secure a 3-2 victory for Italy over Cyprus in their final World Cup qualifying match.




Viola striker Adrian Mutu breathed a sigh of relief as his TAS sentencing date was postponed until the end of November, thanks to an appeal from the player's legal team. Mutu was ruled to have breached his contract while playing with English club Chelsea and has been ordered to pay a settlement of 17 million euro. While the postponement certainly comes as good news to both the player and the city, the striker is the first to admit that the ordeal is far from over. However, he has said that he would rather not discuss the case.




Fiorentina missed an excellent opportunity to reach the top of the Serie A table as they drew 0-0 with Lazio in Florence on October 4. The Viola showed little signs of Champions League fatigue from their midweek match, although both teams were lively and chances were had at both ends. Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien Frey was called upon to make a few crucial saves and, as usual, was more than up to the task. On the offensive end, the Viola appeared to have taken the lead with 10 minutes remaining when substitute Gilardino rounded Lazio keeper Muslera and sent in a shot that appeared to cross the goal line. However, the referee allowed play to continue despite the home side's strong protests. Both the team and the supporters will feel more than hard done as video replays confirmed that the ball had indeed crossed the goal line.




Gilardino, seemingly at the center of all the recent headlines, was given the good news that his Champions League ban will be reduced from two games to one. The striker will now be available for Fiorentina's next group phase fixture, in an away game against the Hungary's Debrecen on October 20. The ban originally stemmed from Gilardino's controversial sending off in the Viola's opening Champions League clash with Lyon.




According to Fiorentina sporting director Pantaleo Corvino, the club's success in the Champions League will ultimately decide the team's fate in the upcoming transfer market. Qualification for the Champions League knock-out round would bring a handsome payday and could see Corvino more aggressive on the transfer front. Names that have already been mentioned include Palermo's Danish defender Simon Kjaer, Atalanta's Hungarian midfielder Gyuri Garics, San Paolo's Brasilian defender Miranda and Lazio's malcontent Argentine midfielder Christian Ledesma. On the other side, it appears that Adrian Mutu may leave the club in January, with his agent recently revealing the possibility should an interesting offer present itself. 


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