- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

ROME (AP) - Long ignored by Spain’s national team, Borja Valero’s talent and creativity shine on at Fiorentina.

The playmaker scored one goal and set up another as Fiorentina beat Udinese 3-0 in Serie A to move back within striking distance of the Europa League places on Saturday.

Valero redirected in a rebound of a shot from Federico Bernardeschi that hit the crossbar before halftime then set up a goal for Khouma Babacar after the break.

Fiorentina moved up to eighth place, level on points with AC Milan, which visits Lazio on Monday. Next weekend, Fiorentina plays Milan at the San Siro.

Udinese remained 12th.

Better known for his passing skills and vision of the game, Borja Valero hadn’t scored in 29 Serie A matches when he used an expert chest control and volley into the far corner to break the deadlock.

Then he threaded a smart pass through a crowd of defenders to Babacar, whose shot deflected in off a defender.

While Valero has made only one appearance for Spain, back in 2011, he has been a standout during his five seasons at Fiorentina, compiling nearly 200 appearances with the Tuscan club in all competitions.

Valero endeared himself to Fiorentina supporters during his first season with the club in 2013 by posting on social media a video of his son singing the club’s anthem.

It was the fourth goal in five career matches against Udinese for Babacar, a powerful Senegalese forward.

Bernardeschi converted a penalty 10 minutes from time after Udinese defender Seko Fofana was cautioned for using his arm to block Bernardeschi’s free kick. It was Bernardeschi’s 10th goal of the season.

Fiorentina remained unbeaten at home, with six wins and six draws.

On Sunday, Serie A leader Juventus visits Cagliari and Roma plays at Crotone.


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