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Italiano hails ‘extraordinary’ Fiorentina for reaching back-to-back Europa Conference League finals

Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Italiano

Vincenzo Italiano hailed his Fiorentina side for an “extraordinary” achievement after last season’s Europa Conference League runners-up returned to the final by overcoming Club Brugge.

Fiorentina, who were beaten 2-1 by West Ham in last year’s showpiece game in Prague, beat the Belgian outfit 4-3 on aggregate to book their place in next month’s final in Athens.

The tie looked to be heading into extra time when Hans Vanaken put Brugge ahead in Wednesday’s second leg, but Lucas Beltran converted a late penalty – controversially awarded for a high boot by Brandon Mechele – to send the Viola through.

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Speaking to Sky Sports in Italy after the match, Italiano said: “Two years in this competition and two finals… it’s extraordinary.

“When I arrived in Florence, speaking with the fans, I said I would do everything in the cups I never won as a player. We didn’t know Europe, but it has been a fantastic path and I am happy.”

Fiorentina will face either Aston Villa or Olympiacos in the final, with the Premier League side requiring a dramatic turnaround in Thursday’s semi-final second leg after suffering a 4-2 home defeat last week.

Asked if he had a preferred opponent in mind, Italiano said: “There are perils on all sides. Olympiacos are doing great things with a new coach. They are a quality team and would practically be at home.

“The other is fourth in the Premier League. We will watch the match and prepare everything as best we can, but in the meantime, we’ll enjoy this”.

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Harry Carr

Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.

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