SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 20 - 5 Jan 2018 (19.45 UK)
Fiorentina 1 - 1 Inter
Icardi 55 (I), Simeone 91 (F)
Stadio Artemio Franchi

Fiorentina wasted far too many scoring opportunities and eventually snatched a late point to hold Inter with Giovanni Simeone’s equaliser.

The Nerazzurri were desperate to stop the slide after one point from the last three Serie A rounds and a Coppa Italia exit to Milan. Joao Miranda and Danilo D’Ambrosio were still injured, but Andrea Ranocchia shook off a knock to start. The Viola and their ex-Inter Coach Stefano Pioli missed Bruno Gaspar, but Federico Chiesa was fit to play after his rest.

It was a very special game for Borja Valero, returning to the Stadio Franchi for the first time since his summer move. ‘The Mayor of Florence’ was given a warm reception, befitting a man with a tattoo of the Ponte Vecchio co-ordinates on his arm.

Inter’s last Serie A win in Florence was in February 2014, followed by three consecutive defeats here, including last season’s ridiculous 5-4 thriller. Their last five meetings, home and away, provided a total 26 goals.

Giovanni Simeone almost opened the scoring within two minutes, nudging wide from close range as Davide Astori knocked on a free kick.

Cyril Thereau should’ve done much better when Federico Chiesa rolled across and Andrea Ranocchia slipped, leaving him unmarked, but the Frenchman ballooned over the bar.

Marco Sportiello took the sting out of a Roberto Gagliardini snapshot and turned Ivan Perisic’s cross-shot round the base of the near post.

Thereau wasted another golden opportunity, again from Chiesa’s low pass down the right, blasting well over. Perisic nodded over under pressure and Matias Vecino fired straight at Sportiello from distance, but Fiorentina took more control as the half wore on and peppered the box with crosses.

Their pressing game was very effective, as Inter repeatedly lost the ball in midfield, but Simeone just as often blasted over from promising positions. Joao Mario was particularly disappointing, as he was dispossessed and tracked back very slowly, earning jeers from the crowd.

After the restart, Andrea Ranocchia desperate defending prevented Simeone nodding in a Chiesa cross, but Inter took the lead against the run of play.

Joao Cancelo’s free kick was whipped towards the near post and Sportiello performed a stunning save on Icardi’s header, but could do nothing on the rebound.

Fiorentina could’ve equalised within 90 seconds, but Samir Handanovic flew to fingertip a Cristiano Biraghi free kick out from under the bar.

Handanovic saved another attempt almost by accident, as Milan Skriniar deflected Chiesa’s cross-shot and it bounced off the goalkeeper’s leg.

Chiesa’s strike was charged down by substitute Dalbert and Milan Badelj’s glancing header whistled past the far post on Biraghi’s cross.

Ranocchia, playing with the aid of pain-killing injections, needed treatment several times for his rib injury and eventually had to come off, moving Davide Santon to centre-back.

Chiesa stopped a long cross with a truly magnificent first touch to then cut inside and drill wide with his left foot. Yet Inter could’ve doubled their lead when Borja Valero nodded a Perisic cross over from six yards.

Handanovic performed another incredible save to deny one of the goals of the season, fingertipping the Khouma Babacar overhead kick out from under the bar.

Fiorentina poured forward, but were almost caught out on the counter by substitute Antonio Candreva hitting the side-netting.

The pressure finally paid off in stoppages, as Valentin Eysseric laid it off for Simeone to react quickly and blast in from close range for the deserved equaliser.

The Viola weren’t satisfied and continued to push for the victory, but were wide open on the counter and Sportiello fingertipped a Candreva long-ranger over.

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Fiorentina: Sportiello; Laurini, Pezzella, Astori, Biraghi; Benassi (Babacar 69), Badelj, Veretout (Gil Dias 85); Chiesa, Simeone, Thereau (Eysseric 62)
Inter: Handanovic; Cancelo (Candreva 82), Skriniar, Ranocchia (Nagatomo 73), Santon; Vecino, Gagliardini; Joao Mario (Dalbert 64), Borja Valero, Perisic; Icardi
Ref: Valeri