SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 16 - 16 Dec 2018 (14.00 UK)
Fiorentina 3 - 1
Krunic 24 (E), Mirallas 40 (F), Simeone 59 (F), Dabo 79 (F)
Stadio Artemio Franchi

Fiorentina finally ended their 10-match winless streak, but had to fight back in order to beat local rivals Empoli 3-1.

This was an intriguing Tuscan Derby between two sides on very different form, as the Viola were without a win in eight – drawing six – and lost Nikola Milenkovic, Jordan Veretout and Edimilson Fernandes to suspension, so Christian Norgaard was given his first Serie A start. Empoli had 10 points from their last four rounds and the only player struggling with injury was ex-Viola captain Manuel Pasqual.

Fiorentina had won nine of their last 14 Serie A meetings with Empoli, drawing three and losing two.

Francesco ‘Ciccio’ Caputo forced a tricky reaction save out of Alban Lafont, as he turned his marker to get the shot away, but Cristiano Biraghi had the ball in the back of the net with a towering header on Federico Chiesa’s cross only for it to be ruled offside by VAR.

Moments later, Vitor Hugo missed a sitter with his free header somehow wide from 10 yards on a set play.

Fiorentina were made to pay for that error, as within 40 seconds Empoli had taken the lead. They went on the counter, Caputo rolled across the face of goal and Rade Krunic got there for the tap-in before Biraghi.

Chiesa’s ferocious strike was palmed round the base of the near post and after a period of pressure, the hosts equalised. Giovanni Simeone’s slide-rule pass released Mirallas, who smashed it into the roof of the net from 14 yards. It was the former Everton man’s second goal in as many games after his last-gasp equaliser at Sassuolo.

An acrobatic Chiesa flick was over from close range, but Fiorentina turned it around on the hour mark. Biraghi’s cross from the left was misjudged by Matias Silvestre, but not Simeone, who barely even had to jump in order to nod it in. After a lengthy goal drought, it was his second in as many games and the fiery celebration showed what it meant.

Chiesa’s acrobatic mid-air volley stung Ivan Provedel’s gloves at the back post, but it was still open and Empoli couldn’t believe they didn’t equalise on 76 minutes. Krunic rolled it across for Caputo, who was already celebrating when he saw Lafont somehow get down to fingertip it off the line.

Just 90 seconds later, Fiorentina had extended their lead to 3-1. Bryan Dabo had just come off the bench, but he made an immediate impact by intercepting a pass in his own half, surging forward and drilling a daisy-cutter into the far bottom corner from distance.

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Fiorentina: Lafont; Ceccherini, Pezzella, Vitor Hugo, Biraghi (Hancko 93); Benassi, Norgaard (Dabo 75), Gerson; Chiesa, Simeone, Mirallas (Eysseric 75)
: Provedel; Veseli, Silvestre, Maietta; Di Lorenzo, Krunic, Bennacer (Capezzi 53), Traore (Zajc 72), Antonelli (Untersee 71); Caputo, La Gumina
Ref: Giacomelli