Salah leads Fiorentina to 2-1 win at Juventus in cup semis
TURIN, Italy (AP) — Raising his tally to six goals in seven matches since arriving on loan from Chelsea, Mohamed Salah scored twice and Fiorentina won 2-1 at Juventus in the opening leg of the Italian Cup semifinals on Thursday.
Juventus suffered its first loss at home since falling to Bayern Munich nearly two years ago.
Salah scored his first 11 minutes in when he sprinted past three defenders and dribbled for 60 yards before launching in a shot from inside the area.
After Fernando Llorente equalized for the Serie A leader with a header in the 24th, Salah scored the winner in the second half with an angled shot inside the area.
Since transferring last month, Salah has three goals in Serie A, one in the Europa League, and two in Italian Cup play. That’s a drastic improvement from his year at Chelsea, when the 22-year-old Egypt international scored only twice in 19 appearances.
“He’s in a state of grace, and hopefully he can continue,” Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said.
Salah also scored the decisive goal in Fiorentina’s 1-0 win at Inter Milan last weekend, the club’s first victory over the Nerazzurri at the San Siro in 15 years.
“He’s fast, he’s skillful, and he scores,” said Alessandro Diamanti, who replaced Salah in the 74th.
Chelsea is paying Salah’s salary at Fiorentina until the end of the season, when the Italian side can take him on loan for another season or buy him outright for 20 million euros ($22 million).
Fiorentina stretched its unbeaten run in all competitions to 15 matches.
“The guys are really maturing, and we’ve been able to put together some great results,” Montella said.
Lazio and Napoli drew 1-1 in the other semifinal on Wednesday.
The return legs are on April 7-8.
Juventus started with stalwarts Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Carlos Tevez on the bench, and the Bianconeri were missing Andrea Pirlo to injury
Still, Juventus controlled at the start, and Arturo Vidal narrowly missed giving the hosts the lead two minutes in.
Fiorentina hadn’t threatened at all until Salah got the ball near midfield and proceeded to weave his way all the way into Juve’s area, especially befuddling the last defender, Simone Padoin.
There were more problems for Juve when forward Kingsley Coman limped off briefly in the 18th.
But Llorente quickly brought the fans back into the match when he rose high to redirect a cross from Simone Pepe off the post and in.
Tevez replaced Coman in the 36th and was immediately active, but couldn’t find the target on a couple of chances.
The match remained deadlocked until Claudio Marchisio lost control in the 56th, and forward Joaquin took advantage and set up Salah, who slotted a shot beyond the reach of outstretched goalkeeper Marco Storari.
The only negative note for Fiorentina came three minutes later, when forward Mario Gomez exited with an apparent injury.
Fiorentina, which lost last season’s final to Napoli, is seeking its seventh Italian Cup.
Juventus shares the record of nine Italian Cups with Roma but hasn’t won the trophy in 20 years.