A contentious penalty and Marcelo Larrondo blockbuster gave Fiorentina the 2-0 victory away to Atalanta, though German Denis was sent off.
Both sides had to revamp for this match, as the Viola were missing Stevan Jovetic, Luca Toni, Stefan Savic, Mati Fernandez, Rafal Wolski and the suspended Nenad Tomovic, while a muscular problem meant Adem Ljajic was only fit for the bench. Atalanta were fresh from a shock 4-3 victory at Inter, but had to do without Riccardo Cazzola, Igor Budan Guido Marilungo, Gianpaolo Bellini and the suspended trio Cristian Raimondi, Carlos Carmona and Luca Cigarini.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off for ex-Atalanta President Ivan Ruggeri and former Orobici youth product Piermario Morosini, who collapsed and died during a Serie B match a year ago.
Fiorentina used a new 4-2-3-1 system and Atalanta had the first chance when a German Denis glancing header was smothered at the base of the near post by Emiliano Viviano, just about taking it away from Marko Livaja.
Manuel Pasqual shook off a muscular problem to start, but curled a free kick wide. Atalanta went on the counter and Viviano charged down an acrobatic Denis scissor-kick volley with his chest from a Livaja cross.
Atalanta were the more dangerous side and Stefano Lucchini’s free header from a corner was disappointingly straight at the goalkeeper.
Momo Sissoko was getting a rare start and seemed out of sorts, getting booked early on and horribly shinning a good opportunity into the stands. Alberto Aquilani chested down a good David Pizarro cross-field pass, but the finish was into Andrea Consigli’s arms. The former Liverpool midfielder’s header from a free kick was also well held.
After the restart Consigli flew to palm away a Sissoko screamer that was heading for the far top corner and from the corner Pizarro drilled well wide. Poor defending on a corner eventually saw Lucchini’s finish smothered between a sea of legs.
Vincenzo Montella made a double change, introducing Ljajic and Marcelo Larrondo for Aquilani and the anonymous Mounir El Hamdaoui. It paid off immediately, as within 90 seconds Ljajic had earned a penalty, flicking the ball on to Guglielmo Stendardo’s hand for a fairly harsh decision, as they were very close together and he could not get out of the way. Nonetheless, Pizarro stepped up and buried the spot-kick to put Fiorentina in front. It was the Viola’s 10th penalty of the season, more than any other club.
Another Sissoko rocket off the outside of the boot whistled just past the far post, then Juan Cuadrado pulled back for Ljajic and the shot struck Stefano Lucchini on the arm and torso, but this time the referee conceded he could not escape contact.
Fiorentina doubled their lead with an absolutely fantastic goal, as substitute Larrondo ran on to a Cuadrado through ball and smashed an unstoppable left-foot strike under the bar at the near post from a narrow angle.
Moments later Larrondo risked a straight red for a dreadful tackle from behind, but got away with a yellow. Lionel Scaloni also ran a risk for a possible stamp on Pasqual, but the officials did not spot it.
Ljajic went on a splendid run down the left and forced Consigli into a save with his legs at the near post. At the other end, a corner found Facundo Parra’s header to skim the base of the upright. Ljajic went on another rapid counter-attack, his daisy-cutter hitting the side-netting.
Atalanta’s game ended with very bad news for the upcoming tests, as Denis was shown a straight red card for an extremely late tackle from behind on Pizarro. It was the Orobici’s 13th dismissal of the campaign, confirming they have the worst disciplinary record in Serie A.
Sent off: Denis 90 (A)