Mario Gomez returned after five months, but Mauro Icardi’s comeback gave Inter a surprise 2-1 win away to Fiorentina.
This was a head-to-head between fourth and fifth, but the Viola had an eight-point advantage over their opponents. Borja Valero was suspended with Giuseppe Rossi, Massimo Ambrosini, Stefan Savic and Ante Rebic injured, while Mario Gomez hadn’t played since September. Alessandro Matri was rested after the Coppa Italia semi-final against Udinese on Tuesday. Inter had lost five away games on the bounce and were beaten here 4-1 last season, but finally got their first victory of 2014 last week. Ricky Alvarez and Mateo Kovacic were sidelined, so Zdravko Kuzmanovic faced his former club.
In the opening three minutes Neto didn’t seem prepared for a David Pizarro backpass, but got away with it under pressure from Rodrigo Palacio.
Inter thought they had scored at the 13th when Palacio burst forward on the counter-attack and his angled drive beat Neto, but thumped the inside of the far post to bounce back out.
Fiorentina had the initiative, with a Mati Fernandez first touch horribly letting him down in the box, but Inter had the chances, as Diego Milito stung Neto’s gloves at the near stick and later hit the side-netting from a tight angle.
Samir Handanovic spilled a sudden Marvin Compper snapshot, but the Nerazzurri broke the deadlock. Palacio chested down Fredy Guarin’s ball over the top and prodded it past the on-rushing Neto. Fiorentina appealed for offside, but Milito was judged to be not interfering with play. Remarkably, that was La Trenza’s first League goal in almost 10 hours of football.
In first half stoppages, a long ball was knocked down for Juan Manuel Vargas to test Handanovic at the base of the near post.
Within a minute of the restart the hosts were back on level terms. It was an unusual goal, as Juan Cuadrado curled an effort from outside the box and it surprised Handanovic on his post. Perhaps the goalkeeper was unsighted and it might’ve taken a touch off Juan Jesus.
Moments later Handanovic missed a Cuadrado cross from the right and was fortunate Joaquin couldn’t reach to tap into an empty net.
Modibo Diakite did well to charge down Palacio for a corner after good work from Milito. Mauro Icardi made his first appearance of 2014 after numerous groin problems, but Fredy Guarin and his fellow Colombian Cuadrado got into a shoving match that also involved Alberto Aquilani.
Icardi didn’t take long to make his mark, as he got in front of Nenad Tomovic to hit the low volley from eight yards on a Yuto Nagatomo ball rolled across from the left. However, replays suggest the Argentine was offside.
Mario Gomez made his comeback for the first game since damaging knee ligaments on September 15 2013. There was also bad news, as Cuadrado pulled up clutching his calf and limped off.
Josip Ilicic had a brave header from a corner at the back post, but was accidentally kicked in the face by Hernanes. Tomovic was crucial to stop Icardi and Palacio completing a counter-attack, then Saphir Taider’s cross was inches beyond Rolando’s diving header.
Fiorentina had a great chance deep into stoppages when Matri volleyed across the face of goal and Gomez dived in, just unable to get the final touch from a yard.