Teenage Fiorentina forward Stevan Jovetic scored twice in a 2-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League on Tuesday, with the five-time winners from England failing to create a single chance in the first-half.
The 19-year-old Jovetic took a pass from Cristiano Zanetti and slid the ball past goalkeeper Pepe Reina in the 28th, then redirected in a shot from Juan Vargas nine minutes later.
“Football is pretty simple if you know how to interpret the game,” Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli said. “We coaches always dream of games like this.”
With Adrian Mutu still pondering the euro17.2 million ($25.4 million) he’s been ordered to pay Chelsea, Jovetic has become Fiorentina’s most reliable playmaker.
Jovetic converted a penalty in a 1-0 win over Livorno on Saturday for his third goal in this season’s Serie A, and the Montenegro international’s score against Sporting Lisbon in August earned Fiorentina a spot in Europe’s top club competition.
“He’s got potential and quality,” said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, who wasn’t interested in debating if Jovetic’s first goal was slightly offside. “We played a bad game and we don’t have any excuses. Nobody played in the first-half.
“Offside is the best rule in football. If a player is offside but is not involved, it’s very difficult for the defender to interpret,” Benitez added.
Fiorentina and Liverpool are tied in Group E with three points each. Lyon, which beat Debrecen 4-0 in Tuesday’s other group match, leads with a perfect six points.
Liverpool faces Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.
“That will be totally different,” Benitez said. “Hopefully you will see the Liverpool football club you saw in the second-half.”
Fiorentina dominated nearly the entire first-half, with Liverpool producing only a few fruitless counterattacks.
Jovetic had a shot deflected wide by a defender in the 16th and Marco Marchionni’s bicycle kick skimmed less than a metre (yard) over the Liverpool goal a minute later, although he was offside.
In the 23rd, Jovetic missed the target from 25 metres (yards). In between Jovetic’s two goals, Vargas nearly scored with a powerful shot that Reina did well to deflect wide.
Liverpool’s first scoring opportunity didn’t come until Yossi Benayoun’s angled shot was pushed wide by goalkeeper Sebastien Frey two minutes into the second half. On the ensuing corner, Dirk Kuyt’s header landed just over the bar.
Kuyt had another chance two minutes later, with Frey again saving.
Jamie Carragher missed the target in the 59th, and Torres missed a volley in the 76th as Fiorentina sat back and protected its lead. Torres hardly threatened otherwise.
“We didn’t perform well enough, we know that. We were slightly better second half, but still not good enough,” Carragher said.
“Nothing went to plan. It was a massive game for them and a massive game for us, but they seemed to be more ready for it from the start, for whatever reason. It is something we have got to sort out, but fortunately in the Champions League we have still got four games to put that right.”