It's the age old story. A team starts the season awfully, finally finds form, has few easy fixtures ahead. Then it meets a significantly weaker opposition at home, and fails to win. Again. A beautiful goal by Juan Vargas just before the halftime wasn't enough to beat a solid Empoli team.
It was an entertaining match, it has to be said. Unlike some previous home games, Fiorentina was playing well, keeping the ball and creating chances, but, similar to, say, Genoa draw, chances were missed. A lot. And instead of putting the game beyond the doubt at the beginning of the second half, Tonelli scored after a corner and equalized.
Empoli wasn't without chances, either. Fellow Tuscans could have taken the lead in the first half, after Jose Balanta's awful backpass, but Tavano couldn't finish. On the other side, Mario Gomez was very active in the box, but visitor's keeper, Sepe, saved his best header after Joaquin's cross. The Spaniard continued his great form and was Fiorentina's best player in the game, confirming that Vincenzo Montella is absolutely right to start him, even though not in his natural position.
Fiorentina hit the bar twice, and had an inspired Sepe on goal. Gomez, Juan Cuadrado, Mati Fernandez all had chances, but couldn't put the ball in the net. There was also a mild case of handballing in the Empoli box, when the ball hit Rugani after Vargas' cross, but the ref just waved to play on. And so, after all those chances missed, came the 57th minute, and a corner for away team. Stefan Savic left Tonelli too much space, and he headed the ball behind Neto. It took us almost twenty minutes to take control of the game, and can count ourselves lucky we didn't concede another goal, because the azzurri had couple of great opportunities.
It wasn't a horrible display at all, even by some players that were routinely criticized, like Mario Gomez, but at this point we would have much preferred a three points and below par performance. Lucky for the viola, Napoli is the only rival for third place that won this round, so the Champions League spot is still only three points away.