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Sunday, February 22, 2009

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Fiorentina will be hoping Adrian Mutu can maintain his goalscoring form when they host Ajax in Thursday's UEFA Cup last-32 showdown.

Mutu's second-half hat-trick allowed the Viola to come back from 3-0 down to draw with Genoa on Sunday and hold onto fourth place in Serie A.

The Romanian forward has struck 11 league goals this season but has surprisingly struggled to find the target in European competition.

Mutu scored just once in the Champions League group stages as Fiorentina failed to advance to the last 16.

"My hope is to continue to score and improve," said Mutu. "I want to win something important with Fiorentina.

"We came close last season and I think we have shown lately we are a team that can win against any difficult opponent."

The Viola reached the semi-finals of the competition last term only to lose 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw at Rangers.

The Italians will fancy their chances against Ajax as they have not lost in four previous encounters against Dutch opposition.

Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli welcomes back midfielder Felipe Melo, who missed the draw with Genoa through suspension.

Alberto Gilardino, who is the team's top scorer in Europe with four goals, will partner Mutu up front.

Ajax will be keen to keep their UEFA Cup run going for as long as possible having already been knocked out of the domestic KNVB Beker, while their Eredivisie campaign has also come off the rails.

A run of one win in five matches has seen the Amsterdam club slip down to third, 12 points behind leaders AZ Alkmaar.

Coach Marco van Basten's task in Florence has been complicated by a string of injuries, however.

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