#NerazzurriClassics – When A Christian Vieri Strike Gifted Inter All Three Points Vs Fiorentina
March 30, 2002 – The 2001-02 Serie A season was a very exciting one for the neutrals with Juventus, Roma and Inter all battling for the Scudetto till the last round of the season.
With only 2 points separating first place from the third, each game was vital for the contenders as they looked to keep their momentum going and create separation from their rivals.
Going into week twenty-nine of the season, Inter were leading the table for fifth week in a row and were preparing for a trip to Florence to take on Fiorentina.
Hector Cuper was in his first season in charge of the Nerazzurri, after the team finished fifth in the previous season where the club also parted ways with Marcello Lippi and replaced him with Marco Tardelli as interim manager.
The team had gotten off to a flying start, winning five of the first six games and losing only twice in the first half of the season.
Majority of the season, the club had to work without star Brazilian striker, Ronaldo on the bench due to injury. Extending the agonizing wait for the Nerazzurri faithful to see the Vieri-Ronaldo partnership at the top.
On the flip side, Fiorentina were still trying to establish themselves after club legend and their captain Gabriel Batistuta left to join AS Roma and won the Scudetto.
The Viola had finished 9th place in the previous season where they saw Enrico Chiesa compete with Andriy Shevchenko and Hernan Crespo for the capocannoniere title.
The club also struggled under manager Fatih Terim and replaced him with Roberto Mancini.
As the league leaders came to town to take on a struggling Fiorentina side, the Viola had only won twice in previous nineteen rounds and only scored one goal in previous three games, a stretch of 270 minutes without scoring a goal.
Starting for the home side were Alexander Manninger, Daniele Adani, Alessandro Pierini, Emilaano Moretti, Andrea Tarozzi, Christian Amoroso, Amaral, Angelo Di Livio, Alessandro Agostini, Nuno Gomes and Adriano, who was on loan from Inter.
For the visitors, the starting eleven were, Francesco Toldo, Michele Serena, Ivan Cordoba, Marco Materazzi, Vratislav Gresko, Clarence Seedorf, Luigi Di Biagio, Cristiano Zanetti, Stephane Dalmat, Alvaro Recoba and Christian Vieri.
As the game got underway, prior form of either side played no part into the flow of the game, as the match remained in balance for all of first half.
Both teams got a fair share of scoring opportunities, leveraging the wings to provide width to the attack, stretching the defenses out wide and sending the cross to the center for the target striker to get a heading opportunity.
For Inter, Alvaro Recoba was pulling the strings in the midfield, creating scoring opportunities for Vieri. Both Vieri and Recoba came close to breaking the dead lock from respective set-pieces, but the game remained at 0-0 at the end of the first half.
As both sides went into the half creating plenty of scoring opportunities, neither manager made any changes, perhaps hoping for the game plan to work as it has and have a better hope of converting the chances in second half.
Vieri broke the deadlock at sixty-second minute mark as he latched on to a stray header from Cordoba following a Recoba corner-kick to score Inter’s first and only goal of the match.
Fiorentina came out to attack more often after conceding but Inter defended well and kept the clean sheet, and walked away still in first place and a narrow one-goal win at Stadio Artemio Franchi.