Alberto Aquilani bagged a brace as Fiorentina continued their spectacular campaign by thumping 10-man Atalanta to go joint-third.
These two sides have been the surprise packages of the season so far, as the Viola were earning talk as Scudetto contenders after crushing Milan at San Siro, while Atalanta ended Inter’s winning streak and were in sixth place despite a two-point penalty. Stevan Jovetic failed a fitness test and wasn’t even on the bench. Federico Peluso and Facundo Parra sat out bans for the visitors, joining the injured Giampaolo Bellini, Adriano Ferreira Pinto and Daniele Capelli.
The Orobici have a terrible record at the Stadio Franchi, scraping just six draws and as many defeats since December 1995.
Fiorentina took only five minutes to find the opening goal, as a free kick was whipped in for Gonzalo Rodriguez and his volley went in off the underside of the crossbar, leaving Andrea Consigli rooted to the spot.
Manuel Pasqual should’ve made it 2-0 on a Luca Toni knock-down, but slipped as he pulled the trigger and ballooned over the bar.
Emiliano Viviano was fortunate that Thomas Manfredini’s header was deflected into his arms, as it could’ve gone anywhere.
Atalanta had been pushing forward more and equalised in contentious circumstances. Denis’ shot was deflected into the air and Ezequiel Schelotto nodded it on for Giacomo Bonaventura to flick past Viviano from close range. However, replays suggest Bonaventura was offside when Schelotto put the ball in.
Consigli denied Alberto Aquilani, but Adem Ljajic scooped well wide on the follow-up. Gonzalo Rodriguez was denied an evident penalty when his shirt was being tugged, but the referee waved play on.
Fiorentina did restore their advantage with a stunning free kick from Aquilani, who curled it over the wall and into the near top corner with Consigli rooted to the spot. It was the former Liverpool midfielder’s second goal in as many games.
Atalanta went down to 10 men in first half stoppages, as Luca Cigarini’s foul from behind on Juan Cuadrado was considered enough for a straight red card.
From that free kick, Consigli palmed a Pasqual curler out from under the bar. However, on the resulting corner Aquilani completed his brace with a smart flick on the outside of his boot at the back post.
Luca Toni added to the scoreline at the dawn of the second half with a trademark looping header on Aquilani’s cross from the right.
Ljajic curled a right-foot shot just over, but Atalanta played the final 12 minutes with nine men, as Davide Biondini limped off after the substitutions had been completed.
Sent off: Cigarini 45+1 (A)