Mohamed Salah struck twice as Fiorentina ended Juventus’ 42-game unbeaten run at home on their way to a 2-1 win in the first leg, semi-final of the Italian Cup on Thursday.
On-loan Chelsea midfielder Salah has been in sparkling form since arriving in Florence last month, the Egyptian international hitting the net three times in four games in Serie A and scoring La Viola’s second in a 2-0 Europa League win over Tottenham in Florence last week.
And the 22-year-old maintained his recent purple patch to hand Juve their first home defeat since aChampions League reverse against Bayern Munich in April 2013.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri left preferred strikers Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata on the bench in place of Fernando Llorente and Kingsley Coman.
But 11 minutes into the game the Bianconeri handler was changing tack after Salah gave the visitors the lead in spectacular fashion.
Salah collected a clearance well before the halfway line and fended off the attention of three Juventus players on his way to firing a superb angled drive past Marco Storari and into the ‘keeper’s far top corner.
Llorente levelled for the hosts when he flashed a glancing header from Simone Pepe’s delivery past Norberto Neto and inside the ‘keeper’s far post in the 24th minute, however Juventus were kept on their toes throughout.
Storari had to react quickly to palm Mati Fernandez’s strike from under the bar and from the resulting corner Mario Gomez almost provided a great assist with his head only for Jose Maria Basanta’s diving header to come off the post.
Tevez replaced Coman before half-time and immediately saw two quick snap-shots blocked.
But Juventus were kept on the ropes throughout the second half.
The visitors spurned two quick chances after the restart through Micah Richards, who saw his close range effort blocked at the near post, before Marcos Alonso’s looping header landed on the roof of the net.
Eleven minutes into the second half, Salah struck again, controlling well inside the Juventus area to coolly slip the ball past Storari for his sixth goal in seven games.
Juventus rallied in the closing stages, with Neto showing great reflexes to deny Tevez from point-blank range before scrambling to tip a Pogba shot over the bar.
However Josip Ilicic should have increased La Viola’s advantage when he drilled just inches wide of Storari’s upright.
Fiorentina host Juventus for the second leg on April 7. Lazio, held 1-1 in the other semi-final on Wednesday, travel to defending Cup champions Napoli on April 8. – Agence France-Presse