Fiorentina relish return to top of Serie A table for first time since 1999
Fiorentina are celebrating returning to the Serie A summit for the first time since 1999 after defeating previously unbeaten Inter Milan on Sunday.
The Viola were three goals to the good after just 23 minutes and eventually won 4-1 at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium, with Inter's woes compounded by the sending off of Joao Miranda on the half hour mark.
Nikola Kalinic scored a hat trick while Josip Ilicic also got on the scoresheet as Fiorentina earned their fifth win in six games in Milan.
"We had been waiting for this game, which was very important, as we wanted to see what level we were at and what we could do,'' Ilicic said to Sky Italia. We started the game well and we saw that Inter were struggling.
"Fortunately, we scored early on and then the game became easier. The entire team played well and the win wasn't just the work of Kalinic and I but of the whole team. We are really happy.''
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As for Fiorentina's title aspirations, Ilicic added: "It's early days and it's too soon to speak about the Scudetto. We just want to keep improving and win as many games as we can.''
Fiorentina are level on 15 points with Inter after six games played. Viola coach Paulo Sousa was upbeat after the win.
"My team showed so much personality,'' Sousa said. "We were fast, we kept up the rhythm and I compliment my team for this. We managed the game well.''
Sousa was full of praise for Kalinic after he earned a penalty which was converted by Ilicic before then going on to net a treble.
"Kalinic gives us a lot of depth,'' he said. "Since his arrival, he has understood what the team needed. He is technically strong, very humble. He did a fantastic job and scored very important goals.''
Inter had only conceded one goal in their opening five games, but Sunday night was very different.
Handanovic gave away a fourth-minute penalty and then was unable to hold onto Ilicic's long-range attempt which led to Fiorentina's second.
"We saw mistakes but Handanovic made some great saves this season and these things happen,'' Inter coach Roberto Mancini said. "The opening goal conditioned the game and when Fiorentina went 2-0 up, things became harder. With Miranda's sending-off, our hopes ended.
"There was nothing we could do. Fiorentina did well and deserved the win. We can only congratulate them.''
Mancini does not believe the defeat will hinder his side.
"We've only lost one game and that doesn't change my point of view,'' he said. "We have a good side and we are still in the top positions.
"We have to improve in everything but at this stage of the season, there are no perfect squads.''