Riccardo Montolivo scored against his former teammates, but 10-man Fiorentina fought back from 2-0 down to hold Milan in a Florence thriller. Nenad Tomovic saw red for a dubious elbow, while the Tuscans received two penalties and lost Stevan Jovetic.
It was fourth against third in Florence, as Jovetic completed a remarkable recovery from a thigh problem to start with Borja Valero returning from suspension. Massimo Ambrosini missed out for the visitors, so Riccardo Montolivo was captain as he received a hostile reception from his old fans. Kevin-Prince Boateng completed the trident with a new bleach blond hairstyle.
The Rossoneri were unbeaten at the Stadio Franchi since November 2005, picking up four wins and two draws here.
Boateng’s early volley was in the back of the net, but play had been halted for Mario Balotelli’s offside position in the build-up. Manuel Pasqual crucially blocked off Mathieu Flamini when he was running clear on goal through the middle.
Montolivo was jeered loudly every time he touched the ball, but it did not stop him scoring against his former teammates. He robbed David Pizarro in the final third and kept his cool to side-foot it past Emiliano Viviano into the near bottom corner.
Pizarro lost the ball again on the edge of the Milan box to spark a counter-attack, Balotelli blasted a free kick over from distance and Viviano smothered a Sulley Muntari snapshot.
Manuel Pasqual’s curling free kick flashed inches past the near post, but Fiorentina lost Stefan Savic to injury.
Milan went very close again, as a free kick was whipped in for Stephan El Shaarawy’s bullet header, beaten away by Viviano. Fiorentina immediately went on the counter and Montolivo took a yellow card for the team by hauling back Adem Ljajic.
Christian Abbiati was also called into action with a desperate and unorthodox save on Jovetic’s screamer, as it bounced right in front of him and he parried with his knee.
Jovetic just failed to get on the end of a Pasqual pass that was rolled across the face of goal from the left flank.
There was huge controversy before the break when Nenad Tomovic was sent off for an elbow on El Shaarawy. The replays suggest there was certainly contact, but only as part of a natural movement when running alongside the Milan striker. Fiorentina were furious and protested vehemently, but the referee flashed the red card.
The Viola did not give in, as a Jovetic shot was charged down and the Pasqual follow-up held by Abbiati. Jovetic recovered in record time from a thigh injury, but aggravated it and limped off in first half stoppages to make way for Romulo.
A free kick almost found Alberto Aquilani in the box, but he fell under pressure from Boateng and protested.
After the restart Viviano parried a Flamini angled drive after good work from Montolivo. Milan doubled their lead from a dead ball situation. The free kick was worked down the right where El Shaarawy flashed a ball across the face of goal for Flamini to flick in from six yards.
Ljajic gave Fiorentina hope, as he went on an extraordinary slalom dribbling through a series of Milan players in the box before he was eventually pulled back by substitute Antonio Nocerino. The young Serb got back up to convert the penalty with a powerful finish through the middle.
Balotelli’s free kick hit the side-netting, shaving a coat of paint off the base of the near post. However, SuperMario was booked for trying to delay a free kick in midfield and because of that will be suspended for next week’s showdown with Napoli.
The referee pointed to the spot for the second time when Mattia De Sciglio mistimed his intervention to trip Juan Cuadrado. Pizarro stepped up this time and, although Abbiati got a hand to it, the power of the penalty took it into the far bottom corner as 10-man Fiorentina equalised.
The 10-man Viola completed their comeback from 2-0 down and continued to push, as Montolivo charged down a Cuadrado shot and Abbiati flapped at a corner. Milan also wanted a penalty after Ignazio Abate fell under a Pasqual shove, but the referee waved play on. There was further controversy in stoppages when Facundo Roncaglia handled in the box, but the referee judged it to be involuntary on Giampaolo Pazzini’s glancing header.
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Sent off: Tomovic 39 (F)