There were satisfactions with how the day panned out for those of a Fiorentina persuasion, but perhaps none greater than that of seeing Mario Gomez rediscovering his killer instinct. Buoyed by fairly solid performances across the field, the men in purple didn't have to work inordinately hard to beat Atalanta 3-1 on a clammy Wednesday night in Florence.
The first half was an exciting half, and one very well managed by Fiorentina, who had control of the ball and midfield after the first couple minutes. Atalanta had the first chance, with an excellent Baselli volley whistling wide of Tatarusanu's post. But then it was Mario Gomez who took the game by the horns on the 6th minute, turning excellently on the edge of the box to hammer a shot at goal, which found the top corner in large part thanks to a deflection. It was only a couple minutes later that a terrible penalty decision - in Fioretina's favor, for a change - essentially resolved the game for Fiorentina. Mario Gomez was teed up in the box by Juan Manuel Vargas, but was fairly challenged and brought down. No protests were made but Valeri blew his whistle and pointed to the spot, enraging the Atalanta players. Juan Cuadrado slotted the penalty in quite cooly off the post, and it was downhill from there for Fiorentina.
PRESS IT PRESS IT PRESS IT http://t.co/eI7cQIllyu— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) January 21, 2015
Atalanta head coach Stefano Colantuono was sent off shortly after, disputing an apparent elbow from Micah Richards, who was the author of an excellent performance in his preferred right back role. Gomez then iced the game on the 28th minute with a cool finish after springing the offside trap, thanks in large part to a delightful through ball from Milan Badelj, who remains an enigma capable of both the very good and very bad. He and Jasmin Kurtic were both blatantly at fault for the Atalanta goal that threatened to reopen the game before halftime. Papu Gomez blew by Badelj brilliantly and teed up Rolando Bianchi, whose low curling effort left Ciprian Tatarusanu no chance.
Fiorentina managed the rest of the game quite well, remaining dominant in possession and creating chances usually through wide areas. Vincenzo Montella was able to take off Borja Valero, Mario Gomez, and Juan Cuadrado early in order to preserve them for Sunday's match against Roma, and handed a debut to Alessandro Diamanti, who was greeted with warm applause from the Tuscan faithful. Alino showed sparks on his debut, but clearly needs time to get match fit.
Atalanta could have had a penalty through a clumsy Stefan Savic challenge on Papu Gomez, but the "other" Gomez's impulse to go to ground when he saw the challenge coming instead produced a yellow card for simulation from the rather shocking Valeri. Otherwise Atalanta were able to produce very few chances of note, even after Marcos Alonso comically got himself sent off for two bookable offenses in perhaps a minute.
Tătă 6 Richards 7 Gonzalo 6.5 Savić 6 Alonso 5 Kurtić 6 Badelj 6 Borja 6.5 Cuadrado 6.5 Vargas 6.5 Gomez ... pic.twitter.com/DR0vaYYoAI— Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) January 21, 2015
This was certainly an encouraging if not inspiring display from the home side, and Montella will undoubtedly like what he saw from Mario Gomez and Micah Richards, leaving him with quite a selection headache ahead of the big game this weekend. Fiorentina will be in Coppa Italia action again February 3rd, when they will travel to the capital to face Roma in the quarterfinals.