Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Benfica 0 Fiorentina 0 (4-5 on penalties): Lezzerini the hero

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 25 Jul 2015

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Fiorentina needed penalties to overcome Benfica in a feisty encounter at the International Champions Cup on Friday.

After a 0-0 draw at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, Fiorentina came out on top 5-4 in the shoot-out.

Goalkeeper Luca Lezzerini, 20, stopped a Mehdi Carcela effort in what was the 10th penalty of the shoot-out to give the Serie A side victory.

Earlier, Benfica defender Luisao saw red after picking up two bookings in a game marred by numerous first-half fouls.

Josip Ilicic struck the crossbar in the second half and that was as close as either team came to scoring before penalties.

Mario Gomez started on the bench for Fiorentina, while Mario Suarez – whose signing was completed earlier in the day – came on in the second half.

Both Benfica and Fiorentina had suffered losses to Paris Saint-Germain to start their International Champions Cup.

Neither team could create clear-cut chances early on and they were both left to try their luck from range, albeit without seriously troubling either goalkeeper.

The referee was the busiest man during the first half, handing out five yellow cards in what was a feisty contest.

And two of those could have been red, with Gonzalo Rodriguez stamping on Talisca in the 29th minute and Marcos Alonso flying in soon after with a sliding tackle as Fiorentina were fortunate to remain with 11.

Alonso almost opened the scoring in first-half additional time, but his volley from a Joaquin cross-field pass was directed straight at Julio Cesar.

The Serie A side went close to opening the scoring in the 56th minute.

Borja Valero’s wonderful through ball released Ilicic, but his shot from a tough angle smashed off the crossbar.

Jonas almost struck at the other end just moments later, beating his defender before placing an effort wide from just inside the area.

The game threatened to turn with a red card in the 66th minute as Benfica were reduced to 10 men.

Luisao, booked for arguing in the first half, was shown a second yellow card after pulling at Ilicic’s shirt on a Fiorentina counter-attack.

With their numerical advantage, Paulo Sousa’s side pushed for a winner but were unable to find one – leading to a shoot-out.

Both teams looked comfortable from the spot – although Lezzerini should have saved from Silvio – before the goalkeeper became the hero.

Carcela needed to score to extend the shoot-out, but Lezzerini dived to his left to keep the spot-kick out.

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