Fiorentina earned a spectacular 5-3 victory away to Verona, as the Bentegodi crowd was treated to a thriller.
It was a very special game for Luca Toni, who was released by the Viola last summer because they thought he should retire. The best response was a club record 16 Serie A goals going into this game. Romulo is on loan from Fiorentina, but was ruled out by a last-minute injury. Vincenzo Montella was without Mati Fernandez, Giuseppe Rossi, Mario Gomez, Massimo Ambrosini and Ante Rebic, but again dropped Alessandro Matri.
Neutrals were hoping for a repeat of the fireworks earlier this season, when Fiorentina won 4-3 at the Stadio Franchi.
Alberto Aquilani stung Rafael’s gloves, but it was Verona who broke the deadlock after 14 minutes. Toni set up Juan Iturbe for a fierce shot that Neto only parried into the path of Jacopo Sala’s diving header.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado’s cushioned header whistled wide after Borja Valero wasted a couple of promising opportunities, while David Pizarro also skimmed the woodwork.
Fiorentina equalised with a sensational goal. Cuadrado burst down the right in a give-and-go with Borja Valero before smashing into the near top corner from the tightest of angles.
David Pizarro blasted straight at Rafael and the goalkeeper was again called into action by Borja Valero.
Fiorentina turned the game around completely on the stroke of half-time, as he was allowed to reach the back post totally unmarked to tap in a low Manuel Pasqual cross from the left.
The Viola extended their control after the break, as Pizarro’s smart ball over the top found an Aquilani header. Rafael got his fingertips to it, but could do nothing on the Borja Valero follow-up at the back post.
Verona went down to 10 men, as Marco Donadel could not keep up with Cuadrado and blatantly hacked him down as he was running towards the goal.
Iturbe fell under pressure from Pizarro and was awarded an extremely soft penalty. Toni converted with a delicate finish at the near bottom corner to re-open the game.
Aquilani’s angled drive on a Cuadrado assist skimmed the woodwork, then Fiorentina also received a contentious penalty, as Domenico Maietta came sliding in on Matri and fell on the ball with his hand. The referee judged it to be voluntary and Matri converted the spot-kick.
Toni thought he had scored another, but he was flagged offside in a very tight decision. Iturbe did get a consolation for Verona, as he ran from his own half and blasted the finish past a stunned Neto.
Sent off: Donadel 68 (V)