Milan: A stroke of free-kick brilliance from Andrea Pirlo secured Juventus's ticket to the Europa League quarter-finals after a 1-0 win over 10-man Fiorentina on Thursday as Napoli were sent crashing out by FC Porto. Fiorentina had high hopes of making the last eight of Europe's second tier club competition after a 1-1 draw in Turin last week when Mario Gomez levelled late for La Viola following Arturo Vidal's third-minute strike.
The Florence-based side are also the only team to have beaten Juventus in Serie A this season (4-2) and last season held the Old Lady to a draw at the Artemio Franchi. However in a hard-fought match Vincenzo Montella's hosts failed to capitalise on what was a poor performance from Juve before the interval.
Fiorentina suffered a huge blow on 68 minutes when defender Gonzalo Rodriguez saw red for a second bookable offence after hauling down Fernando Llorente on the edge of the area. It gave Juve a free kick in Pirlo's preferred territory, and after the intervention of English referee Howard Webb, who told the Fiorentina defensive wall to step back a few paces, Pirlo smashed the ball past Brazilian 'keeper Neto and into the top right-hand corner.