Gilardino puts Fiorentina in charge against Slavia

August 12, 2008

FLORENCE, Italy, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Striker Alberto Gilardino scored on his competitive debut to help Fiorentina to a comfortable 2-0 first leg win over Slavia Prague in their Champions League third qualifying round tie on Tuesday.

Gilardino, a close season signing from AC Milan, nodded home on 58 minutes after the Czech champions had failed to clear a corner.

Strike partner Adrian Mutu, the subject of a rejected bid from AS Roma last month, had given the Serie A side a third-minute lead when he curled a free kick into the top corner.

The Florence club, who beat Milan to the fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot last term, missed a host of other chances in their first competitive game of the season with Gilardino going close three times.

Slavia, who won their first Czech title since 1996 in May, offered little in attack and will have an uphill battle in the second leg on Aug. 27.

Fiorentina are looking to make the knockout stages for the first time since 1999, having worked their way back up the Italian pyramid following bankruptcy in 2002.

All the other third qualifying round first leg matches take place on Wednesday.