Khouma Babacar scored twice as Fiorentina checked the progress of surprise package Udinese with an emphatic 3-0 victory at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. The Tuscans had been marooned in mid-table due to inconsistent results at their Florence base but goals either side of half-time from Babacar blew out the cobwebs and put third-placed Udinese firmly on the back foot. The young Senegalese looked like grabbing a third in the later phases, yet it was Fiorentina mainstay Borja Valero who scored the final goal of the evening to boost La Viola into the top half of the Serie A table. Fiorentina were nearly gifted an early opener as a mistake from Allan sent Josip Ilicic through on goal, but Orestis Karnezis hypnotised the striker and won the battle of wills. The visitors first threatened when Antonio Di Natale picked his spot, Neto making himself big to push the ball clear, and the veteran Udinese forward could not quite turn home a cheeky backheel a few minutes later. Neto stood tall once again when Emmanuel Badu swept up a through-ball and, at the other end, Jasmin Kurtic's long-range effort swerved away from the Udinese goalmouth. Fiorentina began to turn the screw as half-time approached and after Silvan Widmer stole the ball from the feet of a roaming Babacar, they took the lead. There was only one minute remaining before the break when Babacar profited from a rebound to tap the ball home after Karzenis had fumbled Valero's shot. Babacar almost doubled up in the moments that followed the restart, but his touch let him down when it mattered. Udinese closed off the leaking channels to their opponents and Babacar could not quite make any of his swift exchanges with Ilicic pay dividends in the final third. La Viola needed a set-piece to gain access to the Bianconero box and Valero nearly unlocked the door when pinging a free-kick onto the head of Stefan Savic, who missed the mark. Alberto Aquilani showed great coordination to find a tiny gap and get his shot away but Karzenis was not troubled. In the 70th minute Fiorentina made their dominance count by scoring a second goal through Babacar, who collected Juan Cuadrado's perfect assist before rifling the ball home underneath the crossbar. The Senegalese went close to completing a hat-trick when making contact with Marcos Alonso's precise cross There would be a third Fiorentina goal on the night but Babacar would not claim the match ball on this occasion. Instead it was his team-mate Valero who put the outcome beyond doubt, the Spaniard rubber-stamping a fine night for the Tuscans with a daisy-cutter that shaved paint off the right side of a post.
Football SERIE A