The Tuscan Derby surprisingly went to Empoli with a very late and dubious Manuel Pasqual penalty, which could be decisive for Serie A safety.
These local rivals have both underperformed this season, the Viola almost certain to miss out on a place in Europe and seeking a replacement for Paulo Sousa, while Empoli’s disastrous run saw the gap from the relegation zone cut to just three points. Gonzalo Rodriguez on one side and Uros Cosi on the other were the only absentees, but it was a big game for Riccardo Saponara, who faced the club he left in January. Levan Mchedlidze returned to the starting XI after injury.
Empoli have only ever conquered Florence once in Serie A, 2-1 in September 1997, along with four draws and four defeats. However, the last two visits were stalemates.
Federico Chiesa’s angled drive was palmed into the path of Cristian Tello, who somehow ballooned the rebound over from six yards in the opening minutes.
Federico Bernardeschi got back for what was practically a goal-line clearance on Rade Krunic, who had avoided Ciprian Tatarusanu.
It was Empoli who took the lead somewhat against the run of play. Omar El Kaddouri started the move by spreading the play for Mame Thiam, it was a poor Tatarusanu parry and El Kaddouri was ready to tap in the rebound. There was suspicions of offside for Thiam, but it was El Kaddouri’s second goal in as many games.
Tatarusanu had his gloves stung by Daniele Croce from a tight angle and Bernardeschi’s shot was fingertipped over the bar.
Fiorentina drew level amid controversy, as Borja Valero was clearly offside when he got on the end of a chipped Josip Ilicic assist, then pulled back for Tello’s strike, which took a huge deflection of Frederic Veseli to loop into the far top corner.
Chiesa almost turned the game around completely on 73 minutes, his ferocious angled drive scraping a coat of paint off the far post.
Ilicic then curled a trademark free kick on to the top of the crossbar, but deep into stoppages Empoli received a very dubious penalty indeed for a supposed Borja Valero trip on Manuel Pucciarelli. There were so many doubts about this incident, but ex-Viola captain Manuel Pasqual converted the spot-kick to give Empoli a shock victory.
Fiorentina were understandably furious and none more so than Nikola Kalinic, who was sent off for dissent after the final whistle.
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Sent off: Kalinic 96 (F)