Fiorentina overcome Udinese to reach Cup final
Fiorentina moved to within one win of their first trophy since 2001 as they beat fellow Serie A side Udinese 2-0 in their Italian Cup semi-final, second-leg clash on Tuesday to win 3-2 on aggregate.
Goals by captain Manuel Pasqual and Colombian star Juan Cuadrado set up the Viola for a final against either Napoli or AS Roma, who play on Wednesday with the side from the capital leading 3-2, and the chance of completing a remarkable revival.
Just 11 years ago their fall from grace looked complete as they languished in the fourth tier as a result of serious financial difficulties before being rescued by brothers Andrea and Diego Della Valle.
Fiorentina, who beat Parma 2-1 on aggregate in the 2001 final with a side that then boasted the quality of Portuguese duo Rui Costa and Nuno Gomes, took just 14 minutes to level the tie on aggregate thanks to a wonderful strike by Pasqual.
Udinese, whose last Cup final appearance dates back to 1922, had several opportunities to score themsevles but Antonio Di Natale sent a good chance high into the stands in the 25th minute while Fiorentina's goalkeeper Neto saved from him on two occasions.
Di Natale's run of bad luck was summed up when he saw his 33rd-minute header hit the stanchion of the goal and then come back off the post.
Udinese goalkeeper Simone Scuffet had to be at his best to repel a shot from Spanish forward Joaquin five minutes from the break.
However, for all Udinese's enterprising play it was the hosts who gained the upper hand in the tie when Cuadrado's cleanly struck shot crept in under the bar following a counter-attack.
Cuadrado's joy was tempered by the fact that he will be suspended for the final although Fiorentina will hope to have German international striker Mario Gomez -- who was on the bench as he returns from a long-term injury -- back to his best.