Juan Cuadrado’s sensational volley and a Mario Gomez goal gave Fiorentina a 3-1 win, but Chievo wasted so many chances.
Both sides had scraped one point from the previous four rounds and the Viola needed a victory if they were to recapture fourth place from Inter. Vincenzo Montella was without the suspended Borja Valero, injured Mati Fernandez, Giuseppe Rossi, Joaquin and Ante Rebic. He also rotated the squad ahead of Thursday’s Europa League decider with Juventus, so Rafal Wolski, Marvin Compper and Anderson got rare starts. Chievo missed Cyril Thereau, Boukary Drame, Roberto Guana and the banned Michele Canini.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado didn’t play against Juve, but made up for it with a simply magnificent goal. He burst down the right, exchanged passes with David Pizarro and volleyed in with his right foot from a tight angle.
A dangerous Adrian Stoian cross took two deflections on its way out for a corner, then Anderson’s misplaced pass wasted a promising counter for Cuadrado.
Chievo had two great scoring opportunities in the same move. First Paloschi’s fresh-air volley, then as the play continued a cross was stood up for his header wide.
Paloschi had another incredible chance when he sprung the offside trap due to a Modibo Diakite error, but one-on-one Neto stood his ground and the shot bounced off the goalkeeper’s leg.
Chievo were pouring forward as the Viola seemed content to sit back and play on the counter, as Nicolas Frey – the younger brother of ex-Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien – also fired straight at Neto.
Fiorentina rode their luck and it eventually paid off, as Alessandro Matri finished off a classic counter-attack. Anderson won back the ball in midfield and spread it for Cuadrado, who rolled back for Matri to turn in from six yards.
After the restart Chievo continued to threaten, as a ball flashed all the way across the face of goal until Marvin Compper anticipated Bostjan Cesar at the back post. It was another corner and Neto parried Paloschi’s header, even though the striker had shoved his marker.
Ivan Radovanovic horribly missed from yet another corner, blasting over from six yards, but the Flying Donkeys finally made their pressure count.
Luca Rigoni’s through ball allowed Paloschi to spring the offside trap and this time the ex-Milan striker kept his cool to waltz round Neto and fire into the near top corner.
Manuel Pasqual needed a sliding tackle to stop Radovanovic running clear on goal and Pizarro volleyed wide, while Juan Manuel Vargas blasted wide from 30 metres.
Fiorentina were awarded a penalty when Matteo Rubin raised his arm to block a Josip Ilicic shot. Pizarro’s penalty was weak and Michael Agazzi guessed the right side to beat it away, a great confidence-booster for the goalkeeper who left Cagliari in January.
It kept the game open and moments later Lazarevic turned a free header over at the back post, then substitute Sergio Pellissier hit the side-netting.
They held out and Mario Gomez secured the points in the final minute. He appeared to be offside when running on to the Ilicic through ball, but nutmegged Agazzi for his first Serie A goal since September. The German had already broken his goal drought on Thursday in the Europa League.
Saved penalty: Pizarro 81 (F)