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Aug 27, 2005

Serie A: Fiorentina and Livorno triumph in openers

MILAN, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Tuscan teams Fiorentina and Livorno enjoyed victories on the opening day of the Serie A season on Saturday.

New signings Stefano Fiore and Luca Toni were on target in Fiorentina's 2-1 home triumph over Sampdoria while Raffaele Palladino clinched a 2-1 win for Livorno over Lecce.

Sampdoria, fifth last season, were outplayed in the first half by a Fiorentina side hardly recognisable from the team which avoided relegation on the final day.

Italy international Toni set up the opener in the 13th minute. The big striker cut inside from the left and his fierce shot was parried by Sampdoria keeper Francesco Antonioli but only as far as Fiore who headed home.

Fiore was making his debut for Fiorentina. He returned to Italy after a disappointing year in Spain with Valencia and looked sharp as part of a new-look midfield.

Toni, also making his first appearance after leaving Palermo, made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Marcello Castellini on the half hour.

Sampdoria fought back well after the break with the introduction of Belarussian Vitaly Kutuzov making an impact.

CURLING SHOT

Kutuzov hit the bar with a curling shot from the left before he flashed a header wide of Sebastian Frey's right-hand post.

Sampdoria deservedly pulled one back in the 74th minute through a deflected volley from Aimo Diana but Fiorentina reacted well to the late pressure and could have added a third before the end.

Antonioli pushed a shot from Bulgarian substitute Valeri Bojinov against the post before Toni had an injury-time effort disallowed for offside.

Italy international Cristiano Lucarelli, top scorer in Serie A last season with 24 goals, was the first man on target in this campaign when he fired Livorno into a 12th-minute lead against Lecce.

It was a superbly taken goal from the Livorno captain and local hero who turned sharply to lose two markers before driving home a right-foot shot.

Lucarelli went close to making it 2-0 when he headed a Marc Pfertzel cross against the post in the 28th minute.

Lecce pulled level 10 minutes later when Souleymane Diamoutene was hauled down by Chilean defender Jorge Vargas and Alex Pinardi converted the penalty.

Palladino decided the game three minutes after the restart when he burst into the area and unleashed a powerful right-foot shot.

On Sunday, champions Juventus are at home to Chievo Verona, AC Milan visit promoted Ascoli and Treviso play their first game in the top flight against Inter Milan at the San Siro.