Fiorentina victorious over PAOK


Fiorentina maintained their perfect start in Europa League Group K with a 1-0 win away at PAOK Salonika. Juan Vargas scored the only goal in the first half as the Italian side eased to a victory that left them top of the group after three wins from three. The Greeks applied some late pressure but never really threatened as La Viola kept a third consecutive clean sheet in the competition. Fiorentina dominated the opening stages and should have been two up within 10 minutes, both times due to PAOK errors. First a clumsy clearance left goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos in no-man's land but Federico Bernarderschi fired well wide from outside the area. And just moments later the striker had a second chance as Giorgos Katsikas made an almighty mess of a clearing header and Josip Ilicic pounced to cross but Bernarderschi missed the target from six yards. The game was tetchy and both Stelios Kitsiou and Vargas went in the book for niggly fouls but chances were at a premium with Vargas' long-range effort tipped round the post by Glykos. The Peruvian did beat the keeper in the 38th minute but he needed two bites at the cherry to do so. A long ball over the top found Ilicic and he squared the ball to Vargas whose initial effort was saved by Glykos but the rebound fell straight to his feet and he slotted home from close range. Stefanos Athanasiadis stung the palms of Ciprian Tatarusanu as half-time approached but Fiorentina were good value for their lead at the interval. Both sides were limited to speculative efforts in the opening stages of the second half but Vargas brought the game to life just after the hour as he stretched out a leg to connect with a teasing cross but agonisingly hit the post. Cuadrado had been introduced in the 57th minute and the Colombian was next to try and extend the lead as he finished a jinking run with a fierce strike from 18 yards which Glykos tipped round the post. The 26-year-old was looking like La Viola's biggest threat and he found space to supply a cross which Ilicic could only fire wide at the back post. The Greeks were struggling to deal with Cuadrado every time he was on the ball and backed off him as he approached the edge of box and curled an effort which Glykos tipped round the post. Razvan Rat missed a good chance as PAOK won a series of late corners but Fiorentina held on.