FIORENTINA players wore shirts bearing Davide Astori’s name and number in the warm-up for their first match since their former skipper’s tragic passing.
Benevento are the visitors for an emotional affair at the Artemio Franchi, with an eerie silence greeting the players as they emerged for the match.
The players held a huge banner bearing the words “Captain forever” before kick-off.
Many fans turned up ahead of time to pay their respects to their former captain and idol, while players from both sides lined up arm-in-arm in an emotional tribute.
Benevento’s official match pendant had the words “Ciao Davide 13” attached to it.
While announcing the line-up, the stadium announcer, said: “At 13, our captain forever: Davide Astori.”
Fiorentina boss Stefano Pioli named Milan Baldelj as captain for the match.
Riccardo Saponara, whose heartfelt tribute to his form
Meanwhile, Davide astori’s replacement for Fiorentina Vitor Hugo scored his first-ever goal for the club in their first match since the tragic passing of their former captain.
Tributes were paid before the contest and play was stopped on 13 minutes so fans and players could applaud the ex-Italy international.
Then, eight minutes later, Hugo headed home Riccardo Saponara’s corner to open the scoring.
Players were met with an eerie silence as an emotional crowd remember Astori. The sound from players shaking hands could be heard, despite the sellout crowd.
Banners in memory of Astori were scattered amongst the crowd, while the players held up their own tribute to their former captain.
While the stadium announcer named him in the starting line-up for the day, insisting he would always be their captain.
Fiorentina boss Stefano Pioli, who was moved to tears before kick-off, was looking for the victory which would temporarily move his side up to ninth place.
The opening goal arrived on 25 minutes as Hugo headed home Riccardo Saponara’s corner.
Benevento, who are rock bottom on ten points, were in search of their first-ever away point in Serie A and looked dangerous whenever they went forward.
La Viola goalkeeper Marco Sportiello was forced into a number of smart saves.
But the home side should have been further ahead before half-time as Giovanni Simeone — son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego — missed a number of chances.
Milan Baldelj, who wore Astori’s captain’s armband, almost settled the game in the final minute when his thunderous effort rattled the post.
Marco Benassi really should have scored from the rebound as he skied over and allowed Benevento one last chance.
But they couldn’t capitalise and Fiorentina held on for a victory, as Benevento’s slim hopes of staying up are almost extinguished.
Players form both sides failed to hide their emotions after the final whistle as several fell to the ground in floods of tears as they remember their tragic former team-mate.
While Baldelj symbolically held up the captain’s armband to the crowd.
It was an emotional occasion and fitting tribute which showed just how much of an imprint Astori left on his Fiorentina team-mates.
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