Fiorentina’s pair of first-half goals and a magnificent late third secured a 3-1 win over AC Milan that maintained the club's stranglehold on fourth place in Serie A and put the hosts under even more pressure.
Midfielder Alberto Aquilani stroked in the opening goal on his return to San Siro, the ground which the Italian midfielder had spent last season on loan from Liverpool. Borja Valero extended the Viola lead seven minutes from halftime a few minutes after Alexandre Pato skied a penalty over the crossbar.
Substitute Giampaolo Pazzini restored hope among the home fans with a tap-in after Philippe Mexes' skilful shot rebounded off the post, but Mounir El Hamdaoui's beautiful finish with less than three minutes left ensured that Fiorentina collected all three points.
Napoli’s win over Genoa on Sunday means the Florence-based club stays fourth in the table, while Milan is guaranteed to end the weekend outside of the top 10 with the fourth San Siro defeat in seven league matches this season.
Fiorentina grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with 10 minutes gone, with Adem Ljajic teeing up Aquilani 12 yards from goal, allowing the midfielder to curl it past an outstretched Christian Abbiati with his first touch.
The next 15 minutes were characterized by a sparsely-filled San Siro groaning in unison as Rossoneri players continuously failed to time their runs with precision and were regularly called offside. An opportunity for Milan to equalize presented itself after Facundo Roncaglia was yellow carded for clattering into Pato inside the 18-yard box on 33 minutes, but the Brazilian attacker missed the penalty, sending his effort high over the crossbar in embarrassing fashion.
Valero capitalized on the distracted Milan side, burrowing a hole through the defense from the left edge of the box, wiggling past a flailing Mexes and striking low into the far corner of the net.
It was Pazzini who pulled a goal back for the home side, pouncing on a loose ball five yards from goal after Mexes hit the post from 15 yards with an outrageous backheel. The goal upped the game’s tempo significantly, as the visitors pressed to extend their lead while the hosts fought to score an equalizer, causing an extraordinarily open encounter.
San Siro season ticket holders might have expected an equalizer, but it was Fiorentina who had the better chances as the game came to a close. Mattia Cassani hit the post in the last five minutes before El Hamdaoui chipped over Abbiati from 25 yards to emphatically end the contest in the Viola’s favor.
- Sports & Recreation
- San Siro
- Alexandre Pato
- Alberto Aquilani
- Mounir El Hamdaoui
- Borja Valero
- Giampaolo Pazzini