It was a heart-stopping finale in Florence, as Atalanta turned the game around with German Denis before an acrobatic Stevan Jovetic equaliser.
The Viola welcomed back Stevan Jovetic (with a new shorter hairstyle), but Delio Rossi made changes by bringing in youth team players Amidu Salifu and Matija Nastasic. Riccardo Montolivo, Mattia Cassani and Per Kroldrup were out of action. Atalanta missed Daniele Capelli, Simone Tiribocchi and Matteo Brighi. There was a minute’s silence before kick-off for the two Senegalese street vendors who were shot by a crazed far-right figure in Florence this week.
Alberto Gilardino broke the deadlock after just eight minutes, which was only his second goal of the season. Salifu’s long ball was volleyed back into the centre by Juan Manuel Vargas for Gila’s smart tap-in from six yards, getting in front of his marker.
Thomas Manfredini appeared to be shoved by Lorenzo De Silvestri in the box, but the referee blew the whistle for an Atalanta foul instead. Andrea Masiello needed a crucial sliding tackle to stop Andrea Lazzari going clear on goal, just as the Viola man was pulling the trigger.
Debutant Salifu was in splendid form, the 19-year-old going on a slalom down the right to set up Gilardino, who was anticipated as he was pulling the trigger. Jovetic went on a rapid counter to blast over the bar. Fiorentina were furious in first half stoppages when the referee did not award a card for the very high Federico Peluso challenge on Jovetic’s ankle.
At the dawn of the second half a free kick found Ezequiel Schelotto’s header to land on the roof of the net. German Denis stung Artur Boruc’s palms, but he had been flagged offside for a very tight decision.
There was no flag moments later, but the Denis looping header skimmed the upright. The impressive Salifu limped off after a knock, but Jovetic wasted a golden opportunity on the counter by misplacing his pass for Gilardino.
Fiorentina had a sensational chance on 73 minutes when Valon Behrami unleashed an absolute screamer that Andrea Consigli somehow fingertipped on to the upright!
Atalanta continued to pour forward and pile on pressure, but struggled to create chances and left huge gaps at the back for Fiorentina to counter. A scuffle broke out 10 minutes from time after Schelotto accidentally elbowed Manuel Pasqual in the face.
The visitors got their deserved equaliser. A corner was cleared to outside the penalty area where Masiello fired a spectacular left-foot shot on the volley that dipped mercilessly just in front of Boruc to confuse him at the near post.
Atalanta were on a roll now and went so close as Houssine Kharja’s glancing header almost turned a free kick into an assist for Schelotto at the back stick.
The Viola were losing the plot and Atalanta took full advantage. Schelotto squirmed between two defenders to flash a cross to the back post that Denis flew to toe-poke past Boruc from four yards!
However, it still wasn’t over and at the 89th minute De Silvestri sprung the offside trap to cross from the right and Jovetic leapt into the air to volley from point-blank range. The visitors were angry, though, as they felt De Silvestri handled during the build-up.
There were six minutes of stoppages at the end of this dramatic encounter. At the 95th, Jovetic’s free kick was deflected inches past the upright by the defensive wall.