For the second consecutive time, Fiorentina reaches Conference League final

With a late penalty kick giving them a 4-3 aggregate victory against Club Bruges, Fiorentina celebrated making it to their second consecutive Europa Conference League final.

After Brandon Mechele was deemed to have fouled M’Bala Nzola in the 85th minute, Lucas Beltran converted a penalty kick.

Maxim de Cuyper had pulled Club Bruges level in the tie, after Fiorentina won the first leg 3-2 in Florence.

But the Italians earned a 1-1 draw in Belgium which sees them through to face Aston Villa or Olympiakos in the final.

Fiorentina will be aiming to go one better than in last season’s Conference League, when they were beaten in the final by West Ham.

Bruges went ahead in the semi-final second leg through left-back De Cuyper, who found himself in the centre-forward position to flick home a quick in-swinging cross from the left.

Fiorentina thereafter assumed control of the game despite a feverish home atmosphere at Jan Breydel Stadium, with the action even having to be paused early in the second half as the volume of flares set off meant the referee could not see the sidelines.

The Serie A side hit the woodwork three times in Bruges. Christian Kouame rattled the crossbar in the 35th minute with a powerful snap shot which bounced down and away with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet stranded.

Fiorentina then hit the frame of the goal twice in two second-half minutes – captain Cristiano Biraghi struck the bar with a left-footed free-kick from 20 yards, before Kouame suffered his second stroke of misfortune with a header.

Their deserved place in the final was eventually secured when Mechele caught Nzola with his knee as the Fiorentina substitute stooped for a header, Beltran tucking his penalty into the bottom left corner.

Bruges nearly forced extra time as Hans Vanaken’s late low shot was saved, after former Fulham defender Denis Odoi – who had already been substituted – was sent off from the bench after clashing with a Fiorentina player.

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