Adem Ljajic and Stevan Jovetic struck two goals apiece as Fiorentina demolished Internazionale to close to within two points of third place in Serie A.
Ljajic headed the Viola into an early lead before a stunning Jovetic strike put Fiorentina into a deserved two-goal lead at the break.
Fiorentina continued to dominate and Jovetic bagged his second from close range before Ljajic added a fourth with a fine effort from distance.
Antonio Cassano's late long range strike provided a consolation but the damage was already done for Inter, who face in-form rivals Milan next Sunday.
This game was billed as a make-or-break in each side’s hopes of securing Champions League football next season.
But, trailing fifth-placed Inter by four points ahead of kick-off, the pressure was on Fiorentina. It didn’t show as the hosts were in imperious form against a dismal Inter side that, since the departure of Wesley Sneijder, have been desperately short of creative options.
So far this season Fiorentina have won eight of the 10 games when their three tenors – Alberto Aquilani, David Pizarro and Borja Valero – have all started. And the trio controlled the game.
From very early on, Fiorentina outnumbered Inter time and again in attack and it was no surprise when Ljajic stooped to head the Viola ahead after Jovetic had flicked on a cross from the left.
Valero was often Fiorentina’s key man and he had chances to double the lead, but Inter had goalkeeper Samir Handanovic to thank as the Slovenia stopper spared their blushes.
But Fiorentina were in ruthless mood, and their second goal after 33 minutes was the very least they deserved – and it came courtesy of a stunning strike by Jovetic. Receiving the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the box, Jovetic spun his marker and unleashed a ferocious rising drive that flew into the top corner.
Inter boss Andrea Stramaccioni made one change at the break but, after a brief improvement, Inter found themselves 3-0 behind and the game was put to bed. Inter failed to fully clear Pizarro’s incisive through pass and the loose ball fell to Jovetic, who had the simple task of turning the ball in from close range.
That goal put the game beyond Inter, who looked beaten from the first whistle, but there was worse to come for Stramaccioni’s side. Exploiting space down the FIorentina left, Valero cut inside and found Ljajic, who bent a beautiful shot inside the far post from 20 yards.
Inter toiled for a consolation and they finally got it late on when Cassano, the only Nerazzurri player to emerge with any credit on the night, thrashed a fine low effort beyond Emiliano Viviano from distance.
But Inter were long a beaten team and they will go into Sunday’s Milan’s derby without defender Juan Jesus, who picked up a booking.
Fiorentina, meanwhile, keep the heat on the teams above them and will feel this victory has reignited their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.
- Sports & Recreation
- Stevan Jovetic