Gonzalo Rodriguez scraped a Fiorentina victory in the Tuscan Derby, but Livorno hit the bar and forced a goalline clearance.
The Derby di Toscana had two teams in very different states of mind, as the Viola were flying high in fourth place while the Amaranto were in penultimate place. David Pizarro shook off an injury to start, though Mario Gomez was still out with a knee injury. Emerson was suspended with Andrea Coda sidelined and Luca Siligardi not 100 per cent fit, so Paulinho was the lone striker.
The history books were not reassuring for Livorno, as their most recent Serie A victory in Florence was back in December 1937 and they had lost the last five visits in a row.
Leandro Greco’s long-range effort was charged down, then Juan Cuadrado’s first touch let him down when he sprung the offside trap to go clear on goal. Capocannoniere Giuseppe Rossi gathered in midfield and blasted to test Francesco Bardi.
Vincenzo Montella’s men continued their trademark close passing game, but struggled to find a way through the packed Livorno defence. Cuadrado resorted to a shot from an improbable angle that was over the bar.
Rossi exchanged several passes with Borja Valero before unleashing a strike that swerved at the last moment to hit the side-netting of the near top corner. Bardi rushed off his line just before the break to anticipate Ilicic.
Paulinho was booked in first half stoppages for continuing to play after a free kick was awarded, scoring from distance into an empty net.
The second half started frenetically, as in the opening three minutes both sides had great chances. Alberto Aquilani failed to take a shot and on the counter Marco Benassi drilled just wide, then Bardi got down to palm a Cuadrado solo effort round the base of the upright.
Vargas couldn’t believe he failed to score on the hour mark, as his backheel flick from Rossi’s assist was parried from point-blank range by Bardi’s reaction save. The Peruvian had another attempt on the rebound, but again Bardi got his body in the way.
Livorno had an equally stunning opportunity just moments later. Ibrahima Mbaye was allowed a totally free header from a free kick and it looped over a helpless Neto to smack the crossbar.
Cuadrado and Rossi had shots charged down in quick succession, but from that corner Fiorentina finally broke through. Gonzalo Rodriguez soared over his marker to nod in a Borja Valero cross.
Rossi hobbled off in evident pain after a bad Leandro Rinaudo tackle, making way for Ryder Matos, with initial reports of a suspected sprained knee. Bardi had to punch away an in-swinging Borja Valero free kick.
Livorno had an incredible double opportunity to equalise. Paulinho managed to go round Neto and Rodriguez got back for a decisive goalline clearance, then the ‘keeper was back on his feet to parry the follow-up header from Benassi.
The Tuscan Derby was increasingly tense and Bardi got down to beat away an Aquilani free kick, but Neto needed a fantastic one-handed save to tip Benassi’s screamer out from under the bar.
Cuadrado went on a rapid counter-attack only to fire across the face of goal when Matos was waiting for the assist.