(Reuters) - Defender Vitor Hugo’s thumping header gave Fiorentina a 1-0 win over Benevento in an emotional Serie A encounter at the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, the home side’s first game since the sudden death of their captain Davide Astori a week ago.
The funeral for Astori, who was said by authorities in Udine to have died of a cardiac arrest ahead of last Sunday’s scheduled game against Udinese, was held in the city on Thursday amid a huge outpouring of grief from fans, players and coaches.
Before kickoff, the players warmed up in shirts bearing the 31-year-old’s number 13, and the teams and officials gathered in the centre circle for a minute’s silence which was only broken by the whirr of photographers’ cameras.
As tears flowed down the cheeks of fans in the stands, balloons in violet and white were released into the air, and in the 13th minute the ball was put out of play as Fiorentina fans raised flags and engaged in a minute of applause.
Brazilian Hugo celebrated the 25th-minute goal, his first for Fiorentina, by holding up a t-shirt bearing an image of fellow defender Astori before standing in front of it and saluting.
Fiorentina could have added a second in stoppage time at the end of the second half as Milan Badelj hammered a shot from distance off the post, and Marco Benassi somehow blazed the rebound over the bar.
Despite some good chances, Benevento struggled again in front of goal and the result leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table with just 10 points from their 27 games, 11 behind Crotone in 19th spot.
The win moves Fiorentina up into ninth on 38 points ahead of the rest of Sunday’s games, which includes the clash between leaders Napoli and fourth-placed Inter Milan at the San Siro in the late kickoff.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, Editing by William Maclean