An unfortunate stoppage-time own goal from Lorenzo Venuti gifted Juventus a 1-0 win over Fiorentina in their Coppa Italia semifinal first leg on Wednesday, as Dusan Vlahovic returned to his former club but failed to make an impact.
Vlahovic moved from Fiorentina to Juve as part of a deal that made him the most expensive signing in Europe’s January transfer window, with his every touch booed by fans in Florence, who clearly had not forgiven the Serbia striker for leaving.
In a hostile atmosphere, the home side had the better of the first-half chances, with Jonathan Ikone drilling just wide midway through the opening period, as Juve and Vlahovic were unable to threaten at all in attacking areas.
Vlahovic’s moment came early in the second half, but he could not loft the ball over Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano when put through on goal.
“He [Vlahovic] has to improve playing with the team and tonight he linked up with his teammates much better,” Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said.
“Winning in Florence was not easy because we had so many players missing [with injury]. We have given a great sign of maturity.
“Slowly we are improving and the team is finding more and more confidence.”
Fiorentina looked the most likely to find a winner to take to Turin for next month’s second leg, with Ikone denied by the post from their clearest opening, before misfortune struck, right at the last.
Juan Cuadrado’s cross was aimed at Vlahovic, but it was misdirected and Venuti could only watch on in horror as the ball bounced off his knee and rolled agonisingly into the net to give Juve a win they did not entirely deserve.