Fiorentina have qualified for the Conference League knockouts after beating Genk 2-1, but top spot goes down to the wire.

The Viola were top of their group and a win would guarantee qualification to the knockouts. Giacomo Bonaventura, Rolando Mandragora, Dodo and Gaetano Castrovilli missed out, but Michael Kayode returned over a month after spraining his ankle. Genk came back twice for a 2-2 draw when these sides met in Belgium in September.

There was a huge risk in the opening five minutes, as Alieu Fadera sprung the offside trap just past the halfway line and beat the on-rushing Oliver Christensen, but bent the finish onto the base of the far post.

Antonin Barak blasted over from the edge of the area, but Fadera was very fortunate not to receive a second yellow card for two consecutive high boots on Fabiano Parisi on 37 minutes.

Fiorentina thought they had scored when the goalkeeper flapped at Jonathan Ikone’s cross to find Christian Kouame on the rebound, but he was denied by the Patrik Hrosovsky goal-line clearance.

Genk also realised that Fadera was on thin ice and substituted him just before half-time. It proved an inspired move, because substitute Christopher Bonsu Baah provided the assist for Joris Kayode on the counter-attack, who rode a mistimed Lucas Martinez-Quarta tackle and fired into the roof of the net from six yards.

The Viola frustration grew with a fantastic Hendrik Van Crombrugge save on Barak, then on the resulting corner he also parried the Yerry Mina header, but could do nothing on the Martinez-Quarta follow-up.

The hosts came out fighting for the restart, Barak forcing another fantastic Van Crombrugge save on a corner from point-blank range.

They won a series of free kicks, including a Cristiano Biraghi effort that was acrobatically palmed out from the near top corner.

Fiorentina were dominating the second half and earned a penalty with a well-worked move involving a series of one-touch passes, until Kayode was brought down by Sadick. Nico Gonzalez calmly rolled it into the near bottom corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

A scuffle broke out in stoppages that saw the referee called for a VAR review when Galarza seemed to elbow Arthur Melo in the face, but the official only opted for a yellow card. More arguments erupted in 11 minutes of stoppages.

As long as they avoid defeat away to Ferencvaros, then Fiorentina will secure top spot and avoid the play-offs.

Fiorentina 2-1 Genk

Kayode 45 (G), Martinez-Quarta 45+4 (F), Nico Gonzalez pen 82 (F)

30-11-2023 20:00
MatchDay 5

Player statistic

1st half
    20' Yellow card Alieu Fadera
Lucas Martínez Quarta Yellow card 28'    
Lucas Martínez Quarta Goal 45+4'    
    45' Goal Joris Kayembe
(Assist: Christopher Bonsu Baah)
2nd half
Nicólas González Penalty 79'    
    81' Yellow card Daniel Muñoz
    89' Yellow card Joseph Paintsil
    89' Yellow card Patrik Hrosovsky
Nikola Milenkovic Yellow card 90+2'    
Cristiano Biraghi Yellow card 90+7'    
Christian Kouamé Yellow card 90+7'    
    90+2' Yellow card Andi Zeqiri
    90+4' Yellow card Matías Galarza
    90+6' Yellow card Carlos Cuesta

Match statistic

53
Possession %
47
22
Total shots
3
7
Shots on target
2
6
Shots off target
1
9
Blocked shots
0
11
Corners
5
0
Offsides
1
14
Fouls
16
Fiorentina
Genk

Starting lineups

53
Goalkeeper
3
65
Defender
46'
28
46'
26
Defender
32
Midfielder
59'
72
Midfielder
59'
8
Midfielder
99
11
Attacker
82'
10
1
46
Defender
23
Defender
18
Defender
3
Defender
7
Midfielder
43'
8
Midfielder
25
Midfielder
17
Midfielder
78'
28
Attacker
99
Attacker
58'

Substitutes

1
Goalkeeper
7
Attacker
16
Defender
18
Attacker
70
73
Midfielder
19
Midfielder
4
46'
33
Defender
46'
6
Midfielder
59'
9
Attacker
59'
77
Attacker
82'
26
Goalkeeper
2
Defender
24
Midfielder
5
Defender
30
Goalkeeper
14
Attacker
19
Midfielder
4
Midfielder
15
90
43'
9
Attacker
58'
34
Midfielder
78'

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