Seville, Spain (SportsNetwork.com) - Aleix Vidal scored on either side of the intermission and added an assist to give Sevilla the upper hand as the club claimed a 3-0 victory over Fiorentina on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League semifinals at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
After edging Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg, 4-3, on aggregate in the quarterfinals, Sevilla entered Thursday's match with their quest to repeat as Europa League champions still alive.
Fiorentina had the better of the play early on, however, and former Bayern Munich forward Mario Gomez carved out a quality chance just six minutes in when he got in behind the Sevilla defense and went for a first-time shot, but it flew over the crossbar.
The home side opened the scoring after 15 minutes when Carlos Bacca drove to the end line and squared it back to the top of the box for Vidal, who fired it into the bottom left corner, leaving Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto with no chance for a save.
The Italian side responded with a chance almost immediately after the goal as Matias Fernandez found himself in front of goal with the ball at his foot, but he sliced it wide of the left post.
Sevilla doubled its advantage seven minutes into the second half with a well- executed counter-attack. Vitolo made the crucial pass that led to the goal as he slid the ball through to his right into the path of Vidal, who took a quick touch and easily beat an out-of-position Neto for his second tally of the game.
Vidal turned provider for Sevilla's third goal in the 73rd minute as he got free down the left side and played a low cross into the area where substitute Kevin Gameiro slotted it home with his first touch of the day.
Fiorentina had little answer for Sevilla's rampant attack and will try to get back into the tie when the clubs meet for the second leg next Thursday in Florence at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
In Thursday's other semifinal first leg, David Lopez and Yevhen Seleznyov traded goals as Napoli and Dnipro played to a 1-1 draw at the Stadio San Paolo.
After a scoreless first half, Rafa Benitez's side struck first through Lopez in the 50th minute, but they failed to hold the lead as Seleznyov scored nine minutes from time to level things heading into the second leg.