Football: Super Salah makes mark in Serie A
On-loan Chelsea midfielder Mohamed Salah hit his maiden Serie A goal and set up one of a brace for Khouma Babacar as Fiorentina continued their push for Europe with a 3-1 win away to Sassuolo on Saturday.
Salah joined La Viola on a six-month loan deal last month after failing to make a lasting impression on Blues coach Jose Mourinho.
But on his second game and first start for the Florence-based club, Salah underlined his desire to make the move permanent.
Sassuolo welcomed Vincenzo Montella`s side looking to defend an unbeaten record at home that stretched back to September when Napoli won 1-0 at the Mapei Stadium, but Eusebio Di Francesco`s hosts were quickly under the cosh.
Salah forced Sassuolo `keeper Andrea Consigli into action at his near post in the opening minute and then set up Mati Fernandez for a strike that Consigli did well to hold.
Consigli was tested again when he parried Marcos Alonso`s angled drive before blocking the follow-up from Khouma Babacar, but the `keeper was soon picking the ball out of the net.
A backheel flick from Babacar found Salah sprinting into the box and he easily slipped the ball past Consigli for his maiden goal in Italy.
Babacar almost doubled Fiorentina`s lead only for Consigli to palm his curling drive from out under the crossbar.
The Africans had more success a minute later, Salah holding up well on the edge of the area before finding Babacar with a low pass which the Senegalese fired inside Consigli`s near post on 32 minutes.
Domenico Berardi narrowly failed to reduce arrears just before the break when his half-volley hit the upright.
Fiorentina continued their domination in the second half and were 3-0 to the good just after the hour when Babacar hit an easy second goal, although claims of offside looked justified.
Babacar was running out of the Sassuolo area and was clearly in an offside position when the ball was punted back in, although the flag stayed down when he slipped the ball past Consigli.
Sassuolo continued to push for goals and were repaid only five minutes later when Berardi sent a dipping header past Ciprian Tatarusanu after being given space to the right of goal by Alonso.
Fiorentina remain fourth, at 15 points behind leaders and champions Juventus, but are now three points ahead of Sampdoria ahead of their trip to Chievo on Sunday.
Napoli, in third, can close the gap on Roma to just a point if they account for Palermo in Saturday`s late game in Sicily.
Roma host basement side Parma on Sunday while Juventus are away to Cesean later Sunday.