I tell you what, these narrative Gods are on fire, aren’t they?!
Merely days after they treated us to the dream debuts of Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria against Hellas Verona, they’ve only gone and set up a Coppa Italia semi-final tie with Vlahovic’s former club, Fiorentina.
La Viola’s progression to the competition’s final four on Thursday was remarkable, and it was their former hero, Vlahovic, who ensured they’ll be facing the holders Juventus for a place in the final.
Vincenzo Italiano’s side overcame Atalanta 3-2 in Bergamo thanks to a brilliant stoppage-time strike from Nikola Milenkovic after Lucas Martinez Quarta had been dismissed for the away side with ten minutes remaining.
The improbability of their victory meant a grudge match against Vlahovic in the next round seemed inevitable. However, Juventus were forced to work hard against a technically proficient Sassuolo buoyed by the performance of their goalkeeper, Gianluca Pegolo.
Dusan Vlahovic unfazed by upcoming Fiorentina semi-final tie
Vlahovic had been quiet for the most part on Thursday night before the introduction of Alvaro Morata on the hour gave him some support up top. With two minutes remaining, the 22-year-old was fed down the left-hand side by opening goalscorer Paulo Dybala before he beat substitute Mert Muldur with aplomb.
His eventual effort, that deflected beyond Pegolo via Ruan Tressoldi, was officially credited as an own goal. But, it was Vlahovic who deservedly took the plaudits as his dream start to life in Turin continued.
Unsurprisingly, the striker was asked post-match about setting up a semi-final tie with his former club. Unfazed, the Serbian responded (via @JuveFC): “Fiorentina? I only think about the actual match, about winning, the rest doesn’t interest me so much. It will be a match like the others, no problems”.
Despite Vlahovic’s steely exterior, there’s no doubting that his return to Florence will be an emotional one. It’s fair to say that there’s no love lost between the player and the Fiorentina supporters. Ahead of his January move to Juventus, Viola ultras, angered by his move, placed banners outside the club’s stadium abusing the 22-year-old and issuing death threats.