Giuseppe Rossi scored on his Serie A comeback, but Domenico Berardi’s hat-trick gave Sassuolo a shock 4-3 victory at Fiorentina.
The Viola were eager to put Saturday’s 3-1 Coppa Italia Final defeat to Napoli behind them and welcomed back Juan Cuadrado, who was suspended for that game. Mario Gomez, Marvin Compper and Norberto Neto were injured, so Antonio Rosati started in goal. Sassuolo were in the thick of the relegation battle, missing Thomas Manfredini, Marius Alexe, Francesco Acerbi and the suspended Francesco Magnanelli.
Mati Fernandez had a shot accidentally deflected wide off teammate Cuadrado, then Nicola Sansone saw his angled drive turned away for a corner.
Fiorentina threatened again with Mati Fernandez, but his first touch was heavy and allowed the Sassuolo defence to close him down in the penalty area.
Domenico Berardi had a great chance when he burst into the box and rolled across for Simone Zaza, but the tap-in was denied by a crucial Gonzalo Rodriguez interception. The move continued and Rosati parried Zaza’s shot at the near post, then the goalkeeper flew to beat a Gazzola attempt out of the top corner.
The visitors were increasing the pressure and received a penalty when Davide Biondini’s shot was charged down by Borja Valero’s arm. The midfielder insisted he was protecting his face, but the strike appeared to be going in without his intervention. Berardi stepped up and sent Rosati the wrong way to put Sassuolo in front.
Alessandro Matri’s header whistled just wide, as did Cuadrado’s angled drive, but Sassuolo did get their finish on target.
It was a counter-attack that Sansone rolled across for Berardi, whose low drive beat Rosati at the near post, as the goalkeeper didn’t get a strong enough hand to it. This was Berardi’s 15th goal in his debut Serie A season.
Zaza almost made it 3-0 before the break, his screamer from distance thumping the outside of the upright with Rosati stranded.
The third goal did arrive to complete a Berardi hat-trick, as Zaza forced Rodriguez into an error in the penalty area and the teenager skipped round Stefan Savic to place an angled drive across Rosati from a tight angle.
Cuadrado tried to get one back for the clearly shaken Viola, but his shot was smothered by Gianluca Pegolo.
Sassuolo continued to threaten as Zaza drilled just over the bar, but Joaquin came off the bench and within 120 seconds had earned a penalty, tripped by Alessandro Longhi. Centre-back Rodriguez took the spot-kick and sent Pegolo the wrong way to pull one back.
A Cuadrado free kick went through the wall, but was smothered by Pegolo, while Zaza wasted a golden opportunity on the counter by firing wide of an open goal.
If Zaza fumbled that extraordinary chance, then Sansone did not moments later. The former Bayern Munich youth product dribbled past two players and his shot went in off the inside of the far post to consolidate Sassuolo’s advantage.
Giuseppe Rossi made his Serie A comeback after four months, having come off the bench in the Coppa Italia Final on Saturday. It was an immediate impact, as he went into the box after a give-and-go with Borja Valero and side-footed the finish into the near bottom corner.
Incredibly, Fiorentina opened the game up from 4-1 down to 4-3 when Cuadrado sprinted on to a long ball and lobbed the on-rushing Pegolo. The Colombian picked up a knock during that move, but was able to continue after treatment.
Rossi volleyed wide and Rodriguez nodded over from a free kick, while Mati Fernandez’s blockbuster whistled off target.
There was a flashpoint in stoppages when Berardi went down with cramp for the second time in a few minutes. He was very close to the touchline, so Fiorentina captain Manuel Pasqual dragged him off the pitch, sparking a scuffle and earning himself a yellow card.
Rossi was almost the hero with a last-gasp volley that was going into the far bottom corner, but Pegolo performed the save of a lifetime at full stretch to tip it round the post.
The game was still wide open and deep into stoppages Borja Valero’s looping header went into the net, but he was flagged offside in a tight decision. Sassuolo clung on for the win that takes them out of the bottom three.
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