UEFA Europa League
Round of 32, Second-leg
Stadio Artemio Franchi, Firenze, Italy
43′ Stindl (P)
UEFA Champions League dropouts Borussia Mönchengladbach scored four goals without reply to defeat Fiorentina 4-3 on aggregate in the second-leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 tie at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Firenze, as the Violas surrendered a 3-0 aggregate lead.
Goals from Nikola Kalinić and Borja Valero added to Federico Bernardeschi’s first-leg goal in Germany to give the Italian side a 3-0 lead on aggregate in the first-half. However the visitors were awarded a controversial penalty on the stroke of half-time that was successfully converted by skipper Lars Stindl, who completed his hat-trick with two second-half goals within the space of eight minutes before Chelsea loanee Andreas Christensen headed home a fourth to send the Germans into the Last-16.
The German side started well and very nearly took the lead in the sixth minute when a teasing delivery by Oscar Wendt was headed against the post by Jannik Vestergaard with the loose ball falling kindly to Ciprian Tătărușanu.
However in the 15th minute the hosts went ahead. Bernardeschi surged forward before finding the onside-Kalinić, who slotted home past Yann Sommer against the run of play.
Seven minutes later the hosts went close to a second goal when a Valero cross was nodded down to Federico Chiesa, whose effort was palmed away by Sommer into the path of Bernardeschi, whose rebound was smothered by the keeper.
Two minutes later Mönchengladbach had a good chance to level the scores when Patrick Hermann’s pull-back found Mahmoud Dahoud, but he could only fire the ball over the bar.
Four minutes later the Italian side doubled their lead after a calamitous error from Vestergaard, whose miscued clearance, allowed Valero to seize onto the loose-ball before slotting home past Sommer.
In the 41st minute the visitors had a good chance to pull a goal back when substitute Josip Drmić got the better of Carlos Sánchez and had just Tătărușanu to beat but his effort was palmed away.
A minute later Mönchengladbach were given a lifeline when the referee pointed to the spot after Maximiliano Olivera was adjudged to have fouled Herrmann in the area as the midfielder attempted to get onto the end of a cross. It was a very harsh and contentious decision but the visitors capitalised with Stindl sending Tătărușanu the wrong way to reduce the aggregate deficit.
The visitors started the second-half in the ascendancy and levelled the scores on the night within a minute of the restart. Christensen headed-on a Jonas Hofmann corner into the path of Drmić, whose effort was smothered by Tătărușanu but the loose ball fell to Stindl, who fired home the loose ball.
The hosts had a good chance to extend their aggregate-lead in the 49th minute when Bernardeschi played Kalinić through on-goal, the striker did well to stay on his feet ahead of the on-rushing Sommer, but he couldn’t get a shot away.
Five minutes later the visitors capitalised on Kalinić’s uncertainty to level the scores on aggregate. Hofmann’s well-worked freekick found Stindl, who curled home his hat-trick from outside the area.
Five minutes later the German side went ahead on aggregate when Christensen headed home a Hofmann cross following a corner. The goal meant that Fiorentina needed to score two goals.
In the 67th minute the hosts very nearly found one of the two required, when substitute Josip Iličić’s terrific freekick was tipped onto the crossbar by Sommer.
Time was running out for the hosts and their desperation was evident when Gonzalo Rodríguez’s 30-yard strike in the 89th minute produced an easy save from Sommer.
The result meant that Borussia Mönchengladbach progressed into the Last-16 of the tournament and will await their opponents whilst Fiorentina bowed out of the competition.