Fiorentina 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Nacer Chadli penalty gives Spurs advantage
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 19/02/16 11:09am
Tottenham Hotspur hold a slight advantage after drawing 1-1 with Fiorentina in their Europa League round-of-32 first-leg tie on Thursday.
The visitors had led at half-time through Nacer Chadli's penalty, the Belgian's sixth goal of the season, only to be pegged back by Federico Bernardeschi's deflected effort just before the hour-mark.
However, Mauricio Pochettino will be confident of progressing to the next round of Europe's second-tier competition when the two teams meet again at White Hart Lane next Thursday due to his side's away goal in Florence's Stadio Artemio Franchi.
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Pochettino made six changes from the team that beat Manchester City 2-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, with Harry Kane on the bench, while Chadli led the line in the striker's absence.
Michel Vorm replaced captain Hugo Lloris in goal, with the Frenchman suffering from a shoulder injury, and midfielder Ryan Mason skippered the visitors in his first start since November.
However, despite both teams heading into the game in impressive form, with Fiorentina unbeaten in five and Tottenham on a seven-match winning streak, the first half was a disjointed affair with few clear-cut chances.
Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen forced the first save of the contest after testing Ciprian Tatarusanu with a powerful long-range drive which the Fiorentina goalkeeper did well to tip over.
It was the hosts, though, who should have broken the deadlock just past the half-hour mark, only for Bernardeschi to somehow fail to score from just six yards out after Josip Ilicic's inch-perfect cross.
And Fiorentina were made to pay just minutes later when Tottenham took the lead from the penalty spot after Nenad Tomovic had clearly tripped Ben Davies in the box, with referee Felix Zwayer having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
In Kane's absence, penalty-taking duties were passed to Chadli, with the 26-year-old keeping his cool from 12 yards by sending Tatarusanu the wrong way nine minutes before half-time.
Pochettino made one change at the break, introducing Mousa Dembele for Tom Carroll, but he could very well have also withdrawn Dele Alli after the midfielder's 29th-minute kick out at Fiorentina defender Tomovic, with the 19-year-old escaping with just a booking from Mr. Zwayer.
In the second period, Tottenham were seemingly cruising towards what would have been a crucial away win as La Viola - third in Serie A and with an impressive home record so far this season - appeared to run out of both steam and ideas.
However, totally out of the blue Fiorentina drew level when Bernardeschi tried his luck from distance, with the Italy U21 international's fierce strike taking a vital deflection off Mason, leaving Vorm with no chance in the Spurs goal.
Thereafter, it was Paulo Sousa's side who looked the more likely to score again as both teams used their full quota of substitutes, including the introduction of Kane for the visitors for the final quarter of the contest.
The closest either came to taking a lead with them to north London, though, came in the final minute when Fiorentina skipper Gonzalo Rodriguez headed Bernardeschi's right-wing corner inches past the far post.