Fiorentina fought back from 2-1 down to lead Inter 5-2 despite missing a penalty and eventually win only 5-4 in one of the craziest games of the season.
This was the last chance for both sides to stay in the race for Europe and recover from disappointing results, as the Viola lost their unbeaten home record against Empoli and the Nerazzurri fumbled a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Milan. Gonzalo Rodriguez was injured and Nikola Kalinic suspended, while the visitors missed Cristian Ansaldi.
Inter wore black armbands and there was a minute’s silence for Giro d’Italia 2011 winner Michele Scarponi, who had been planning to attend the game, but was killed in a training accident this morning. Fiorentina also cancelled first half choreography in the stands after a 41-year-old supporter was killed in Lisbon during clashes between Benfica and Sporting CP fans last night.
It was an aggressive start from Inter, as Ciprian Tatarusanu was tested by Roberto Gagliardini and Antonio Candreva just failed to tap in an Ivan Perisic cross.
Fiorentina started to develop their usual passing game and Cristian Tello knocked down a cross for Borja Valero, but Samir Handanovic rushed out to punch it away. Milic wasted a golden opportunity by neither going for goal, nor giving a suitable pass to Borja Valero.
The pressure paid off with a well-worked goal, as Borja Valero spread the play for Milic, who this time rolled a good pass across for Matias Vecino to smash under the bar from eight yards. Inter’s defence was caught square with big gaps between the lines that Vecino simply ghosted in to.
Inter equalised five minutes later on the counter, as Perisic started and finished the move with Candreva, whose cheeky feint committed Davide Astori.
The Nerazzurri turned the game around completely, as Joao Mario’s through ball caught Carlos Sanchez on the wrong side of Icardi and the striker held off his man to finish past the on-rushing Tatarusanu. It was the Argentine’s first Serie A away goal from open play since September.
It was almost 3-1, as Joao Mario tried to curl in directly from the corner flag and tested Tatarusanu’s fingertips, then Candreva’s first touch was poor on a Perisic cross-field pass and Danilo D’Ambrosio performed two consecutive nutmegs.
Borja Valero’s absolute scorcher stung Handanovic’s gloves at the near post, but on the stroke of half-time he needed a sensational reaction save to prevent Joao Miranda’s diving header turning into an own goal.
After the restart, D’Ambrosio foolishly tugged at Babacar’s shirt and the striker went down for a penalty. Bernardeschi stepped up and his terrible, half-hearted chip was comfortably saved by spot-kick specialist Handanovic.
Nenad Tomovic went off injured and Bernardeschi was jeered during his substitution, waving apologetically to the crowd.
Fiorentina did get their equaliser anyway, as once again Inter were undone by a corner, as Astori was allowed a free glancing header into the far bottom corner.
Moments later, the Viola had turned it around to lead 3-2, as Vecino completed a give-and-go with Borja Valero’s back-heel flick to drill past Handanovic.
Inter disappeared from the pitch and the hosts attacked at will, Cristian Tello and Borja Valero wasting promising moves, but Babacar picked his spot perfectly into the far bottom corner after a run from midfield that saw Gary Medel back off him. In the space of 18 minutes, the Nerazzurri gave away a penalty and conceded three goals.
Ilicic had penalty appeals for a Medel tackle, but Fiorentina added a fifth on another basic counter. Babacar was marginally offside when Carlos Salcedo rolled across for him to tap in.
Babacar almost got a hat-trick, as his low drive was deflected inches wide with Handanovic stranded. Icardi instead reduced the deficit with a great individual effort, turning on a sixpence to drill in off the inside of the upright.
The madness wasn’t over yet, as in stoppages Icardi nodded in a corner to complete his hat-trick, make it 5-4 and set up a furious finale.
The Nerazzurri received another corner that came out to Marcelo Brozovic for a shot cleared off the line by Astori to prevent 5-5.
Candreva had a volley charged down with the last kick of the game and Inter were furious that the referee did not allow them to take the corner.
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Saved penalty: Bernardeschi 52 (F)