Stefan Savic broke his Serie A duck with a sensational brace of headers, but Sampdoria grabbed an impressive 2-2 draw away to Fiorentina. Only Juventus had been able to take anything from this stadium this season.
The Viola have been on stunning form recently, notching up five straight wins and last week’s 2-2 draw at Torino. There was a striker shortage this evening, as Luca Toni, Adem Ljajic and Stevan Jovetic were all injured, while Alberto Aquilani was not fit to start. Samp had similar problems, missing Nicola Pozzi, Eder and Maxi Lopez, while Sergio Romero was in Argentina due to a family issue and Andrea Costa was suspended.
It was a special game for Vincenzo Montella, who was a hero to the Blucerchiati fans during his playing career.
The ran was pouring down in Florence and Da Costa needed two touches to control a rising Juan Cuadrado strike. Fiorentina went close, as Manuel Pasqual pulled back from the by-line for Mounir El Hamdaoui to prod wide of the far post.
Mati Fernandez had a free header from a corner, but nodded it into the ground to bounce over the bar.
The next corner came to Stefan Savic and the former Manchester City man did better, soaring above the crowd for a glancing header at the near post. It was the defender’s debut Serie A goal.
Samp went so close to an equaliser when Emiliano Viviano – celebrating his birthday this weekend – beat away a long-range Fernando Tissone snapshot and was glad to see Nenad Krsticic turn the follow-up on to the side-netting.
They threatened even more moments later, as Mauro Icardi pulled back for Tissone’s first-time strike on to the crossbar with Viviano well beaten.
Borja Valero blasted just over the bar and in first half stoppages the Viola had penalty appeals when Mati Fernandez tumbled in the box over Daniele Gastaldello’s leg, but the referee waved play on, insisting he was looking for the contact.
At the dawn of the second half it was 1-1, as Icardi knocked down for Nenad Krsticic, who took it past a defender with his right boot to slam home with his left at the near post. Like Savic, it was his first Serie A goal.
Viviano had to rush off his line to close down Icardi after a defensive error, while substitute Haris Seferovic turned a corner on to the side-netting. Cuadrado should’ve nodded across for a teammate rather than go for goal when he finished wide.
Seferovic thought he had scored on 64 minutes, but the linesman raised his flag for an offside position. Moments later another corner fell to Mati Fernandez, but the low volley was going in before it accidentally hit teammate Nenad Tomovic’s ankle! The Viola defender effectively cleared off the line by mistake.
Savic nodded a corner over the bar, but there was a huge surprise when Pedro Obiang rolled across from the left for Icardi to tap in from six yards. However, it was intercepted by Gonzalo Rodriguez, who got the decisive touch.
The Artemio Franchi crowd wanted a penalty for Andrea Poli’s handling offence, though the ball seemed to be behind him and he wasn’t entirely sure where it was.
It didn’t matter, as moments later Fiorentina equalised when a Manuel Pasqual free kick was curled on to the head of Savic for his second goal of the game – and of his entire Serie A career. Once again, the Blucerchiati defence was unable to handle the defender’s movement.
Sampdoria ended the game with 10 men, as Shkodran Mustafi went flying in with a ludicrously high sliding tackle on Pasqual.
Seferovic had the ball in the net in stoppages, but only after a blatant shoulder-charge on goalkeeper Da Costa. Aquilani nearly snatched it at the 95th, but he didn't get enough power to his sliding finish from six yards and Da Costa was able to get a hand to it.
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Sent off: Mustafi 90 (S)