SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 16 - 15 Dec 2019 (19.45 UK)
Fiorentina 1 - 1 Inter
Borja Valero 8 (I), Vlahovic 92 (F)
Stadio Artemio Franchi

Borja Valero thought he had given Inter victory against his former club, but Dusan Vlahovic’s stoppage-time stunner saved Fiorentina and Vincenzo Montella.

This result means the Nerazzurri are caught at the top of the Serie A table by Juventus, both now on 39 points.

Viola coach Montella was under a great deal of pressure after four consecutive Serie A defeats, while Franck Ribery was in the stands just hours after ankle surgery that will rule him out for at least 10 weeks. Inter needed a victory to recapture the leadership from Juventus, but were still smarting from a midweek Champions League exit. Antonio Candreva, Stefano Sensi, Nicolò Barella, Roberto Gagliardini, Kwadwo Asamoah and Alexis Sanchez were out of action.

Of all the players to open the scoring at the Stadio Franchi, it was ex-Fiorentina hero Borja Valero, the man who has the co-ordinates of the city tattooed on his arm. He gathered Marcelo Brozovic’s through ball and placed the finish between Nikola Milenkovic’s legs to score at the near bottom corner from six yards. Borja Valero waved an apology to the crowd and refused to celebrate.

Fiorentina fought back, as Samir Handanovic flew to fingertip a Milan Badelj curler out of the top corner with a sensational save.

Brozovic was booked for stopping a Gaetano Castrovilli counter-attack and will be suspended for next week’s game.

Kevin-Prince Boateng tried to back-heel a wayward Martin Caceres cross-shot, charged down by Stefan de Vrij, while Romelu Lukaku hit the side-netting after German Pezzella’s sliding tackle.

Despite pouring forward, Fiorentina risked going 2-0 down at the 39th minute. Lukaku ran on to a through ball and rolled it across for Lautaro Martinez to turn in completely and utterly unmarked. However, it was Lukaku who was in an offside position for the assist, so the goal was disallowed.

Lukaku went close moments later, his towering header slapped off the line by Bartlomiej Dragowski at full stretch as it was going into the far bottom corner.

Handanovic smothered at Boateng’s feet, but Stefan de Vrij fell on to the ground as the ball spun on to his wrist, so that could not be considered handball.

On the stroke of half-time, Chiesa pounced on a Bastoni error, but then lost his footing at the crucial moment.

Boateng out-jumped Bastoni to nod a Dalbert cross over the bar, while Lautaro Martinez turned Cristiano Biraghi’s assist wide.

Handanovic got down for a difficult one-handed save on Castrovilli’s long-range scorcher, while Lukaku shrugged off two defenders only to be denied from point-blank range by Dragowski’s leg.

The tension rose further, as Dragowski rushed out to smother a through ball, but Lautaro Martinez left his foot in and caught the goalkeeper on the head. He was booked and will be suspended for the next match against Genoa.

It seemed to be over, but 19-year-old Dusan Vlahovic scored a goal out of nowhere to equalise. He gathered inside his own half, surged forward and Milan Skriniar didn’t try to close him down, perhaps assuming it was impossible to score from such a tight angle, but the striker did hit a screamer across the face of goal into the far top corner.

That goal may well have saved Montella’s job for another week.

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Fiorentina: Dragowski; Milenkovic, Pezzella, Caceres; Lirola, Pulgar, Badelj (Benassi 65), Castrovilli (Eysseric 83), Dalbert; Chiesa (Vlahovic 59), Boateng
Inter: Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni (Godin 87); D'Ambrosio, Vecino, Brozovic, Borja Valero (Agoume 84), Biraghi; R Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (Politano 84)
Ref: Mariani