Europa League: Fiorentina beat Esbjerg 3-1 in round of 32 first leg
Three goals in half an hour were enough for Fiorentina as they easily saw off Esbjerg 3-1 in the last 32 first leg tie.
Last Updated: 20/02/14 8:54pm
Esbjerg striker Martin Pusic cancelled out on-loan AC Milan striker Alessandro Matri's opener in the 10th minute but Josip Ilicic put the Italians back in front soon after.
Former Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani all but wrapped up the victory before half-time after converting his team's third from the penalty spot.
The Italians, who currently sit in fourth in Serie A, went into the encounter in Denmark as heavy favourites.
They took an eighth-minute lead when an unmarked Matri surged inside the area and slotted the ball into the net.
The hosts replied minutes later after Fiorentina's defence failed to clear a dangerous cross from the right, leaving former Hull City forward Pusic to fire home from six yards.
The visitors retook the lead five minutes later when Davidson Drobo-Ampem's poor clearance in his area proved an assist for Ilicic and the Slovenian midfielder chested the ball down before hitting a 12-yard effort past Esbjerg goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Fiorentina extended their advantage in the 37th minute after being awarded a penalty, the referee pointing to the spot after Drobo-Ampem brought down Santos Ryder.
Aquilani made no mistake as he struck his spot-kick into the top right corner of the net, out of Dubravka's reach.
Fiorentina's record signing Mario Gomez continued his comeback from a knee injury which has kept him out since September, after he came on a substitute replacing Matri early in the second half and soon after he came on the German saw his bullet strike kept out by Dubravka just before the hour mark.
Esbjerg had their chances to put themselves back in the tie but Neto produced great saves late in the game, first from substitute Jesper Rasmussen and then from Pusic.
The Danes travel to Florence for the return leg on February 27.