Throwback Thursday: Giuseppe Rossi’s Dream Hat-Trick to Juventus

Few things can delight a Fiorentina fan more than beating Juventus. There is a never-ending feud between the Viola and the Bianconeri, punctuated by episodes like the UEFA Cup 1989-90 won by Juventus, their “stealing” of Roberto Baggio to the Fiorentini, or Alessandro Del Piero’s spectacular goal in 1995 that sealed an epic comeback for the Old Lady.

Only a few times have Fiorentina managed to have the upper hand against the black-and-white powerhouse and one of the most recent and pleasant ones happened in 2013 thanks to a small-sized paisà from New Jersey who had come back to the Old World to play football: Giuseppe Rossi.

On October 30, 2013, he bagged a sensational hat-trick in the space of 20 minutes to lead Fiorentina to a stunning 4-2 win over a Juventus side whose grip on the Serie A seemed unshakable (as it would actually be for the coming six seasons at least…). It was “a day I will never forget,” as Rossi himself once recalled, and perhaps the climax of a career that didn’t fully lived up to the expectations.

The pride of all Italian Americans who loved calcio among the befuddlement of their countrymen who were more familiar with (American) football and baseball, he left the US at 12 to fulfill his dream of playing for Italy, where both his parents were from.

He played for the Parma youth academy for a while, then Alex Ferguson and Manchester United swooped in and took him beyond the Channel.

Giuseppe Rossi’s transfer from Parma to Manchester United in 2004, when the striker was only 17 years old, was quite a shock back in the days…

He seemed meant to succeed, Giuseppe Rossi. When he made his Premier League debut with the Red Devils, scoring his first goal only nine minutes after setting foot on the pitch, the way looked paved for him.

Italy seemed to have found the striker of a generation, one with a bag full of football tricks. But Rossi was fragile, incredibly fragile. His knees, especially the right one, would torment the second part of his career and force him to some extended stops at least five times.

And so, the Azzurri’s new hope ended up missing all major international tournaments and collecting only 30 caps with the Italian national team. He had a remarkable career, make no mistake. Still, all calcio lovers were left with the bitter feeling that there could have been more from him.    

But that day at the Artemio Franchi Stadium, oh, what a day that was.

Giuseppe Rossi had come to Florence in the summer of 2013, after a successful six-year spell at Villarreal but with two horrific injuries to his right knee ACL already on his back. On the bench of the Viola, sat Vincenzo Montella.

Juventus, on the other hand, were coached by Antonio Conte for the third season in a row. The Lecce-born gaffer already had two league titles under his belt and was laying the foundations for the Bianconeri’s tyranny over the Italian top-flight that was set to last for many more years. 

Indeed, no season would exemplify Juventus’ domination in the Serie A like the 2013-2014 campaign. The Bianconeri’s title run was simply monstruous. Antonio Conte’s white-and-black armada failed to win only 5 out of 38 games. They collected 102 points out of a maximum 114 available and ended 17 points clear of second-placed Roma.

That makes the three points that Fiorentina snatched out of Juventus’ hands even more impressive and conveys the idea of how epic that win and Giuseppe Rossi’s tripletta were. 

Giuseppe Rossi initiated Fiorentina’s comeback from the penalty kick spot, but the best was yet to come…

When the two sides met in Round 8, the Old Lady had recorded six wins and one draw so far. At half time, Fiorentina were already trailing by two, courtesy of a Carlos Tevez penalty and a Paul Pogba goal, propitiated by a defensive blunder from future Juventino Juan Cuadrado. It looked like another day in the office for the steamrollering Bianconeri

Things didn’t even seem to change after the restart as goalkeeper Neto had to go above and beyond to deny Claudio Marchisio as he went one-to-one with him.

But then, like in a superhero comic book saga, the 22 players were teleported to an alternate universe – one where Fiorentina were unstoppable and Juventus appeared confused, frightened. The revival began as Kwadwo Asamoah slide-tackled Mati Ferndandez in the box. It was a penalty for Fiorentina this time, which Pepito Rossi clinically converted. There was still hope.  

His second pearl of the day was perhaps the most beautiful. Fiorentina’s number 49 defended the ball from Pogba’s assault and suddenly conjured a left-foot screamer shot straight from the US. The ball bounced in front of Gianluigi Buffon and leapt past him to give the Viola a shocking equalizer. Not the best sample of goalkeeping skills from the Gigi Nazionale, but little did that matter to the screaming Fiorentina fans.

Just two minutes later, as the Artemio Franchi turned into a modern, roaring Colosseum, Fiorentina completed their comeback and had their third. Rossi didn’t have any part in it this time, as it was Spanish midfielder Joaquìn who slotted the ball home at the end of an action that evidenced how the tables were turned.

From Borja Valero snaringly snatching the ball out of Arturo Vidal’s feet to trigger Fiorentina’s counterattack to Juventus inexplicably failing to mark Joaquìn, making it a child’s play for him to find the back of the net, all exemplified the Bianconeri’s confused state and the Gigliati’s deep presence in the zone.

On 81 minutes, just 20 minutes after his first goal, Giuseppe Rossi put the cherry on the top of his legendary performance as he finalized a textbook fast break ignited by Juan Cuadrado. Then, the two sides switched back to this universe, where Fiorentina could celebrate for a night, but Juventus would go on to win the title brushing aside all further opposition.

They probably never realized what had happened on that afternoon when they lived their darkest 20 minutes in a decade. Maybe not even Giuseppe Rossi did. But his dream hat-trick to the Bianconeri surely won him an eternal place in the Fiorentina’s Hall of the Heroes.



October 30, 2013 – Serie A 2013-14 Round 8

SCORERS: 37′ Tevez (J, pen.), 40′ Pogba (J), 61′ G. Rossi (F, pen.), 76′ G. Rossi (F), 78′ Joaquin (F), 81′ G. Rossi (F)

FIORENTINA (4-3-2-1): Neto; Roncaglia, G. Rodriguez, Savic, Pasqual; Aquilani (56′ Joaquìn), Pizarro, Ambrosini (23′ Mati Fernandez); Cuadrado, Borja Valero; G. Rossi (89′ Matos) (Munua, Compper, Tomovic, Vecino, Alonso, Bakic, Wolski, Vargas, Iakovenko) Coach: Montella

JUVENTUS (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Padoin (81′ Thiago Motta), Marchisio (74′ Vidal), Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah (78′ Giovinco); Llorente, Tevez (Storari, Rubinho, Caceres, Ogbonna, Peluso, De Ceglie, Isla, Bouy) Coach: Conte

REFEREE: Mr. Rizzoli from Bologna
NOTES: Yellow cards: Aquilani, Cuadrado, Savic (F), Tevez, Barzagli, Asamoah, Pirlo, Bonucci (J)