Italy and Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo was lavished with praise after his thunderbolt free kick sent Juve into the Europa League quarterfinals at the expense of Serie A rival Fiorentina. The veteran’s stunning effort sealed a 1-0 win for the Bianconeri on the night, and a 2-1 aggregate win over two games. It was Pirlo’s fifth goal of the season in all competitions (all of them free-kicks), coming just four days after he struck another dead-ball masterpiece in another 1-0 win against Genoa in the Italian league on Monday.
After the game, the 34-year-old revealed that there is no secret to his set pieces. "It's something I always decide at the last minute," Pirlo said. "It depends how I feel, how the wall is lined up and on the position. I'm delighted to have scored two fundamental goals in the league and the Europa League in the space of four days.” He added: “Sadly, I can't change my age, but I'm still enjoying myself. I've not signed a new contract yet and I don't know if it will happen this month because the schedule's pretty full, but there's no problem with Juventus."
Pirlo’s back-to-back winners left his teammates in awe. "I don't know how he does it," fellow midfielder Arturo Vidal said. "I don't even try to imitate him, I just settle for being able to play with one of the best players in the world." France international Paul Pogba added: "Pirlo's got feet of gold. To strike the ball the way he does, I'm going to need many years of practice yet. If only I could kick the ball like him."
Juve will face French club Lyon in the Europea League quarterfinals.