Paulo Sousa made some significant changes for this one. The most obvious, of course, was the shift to a 4-2-3-1, the better to use his new wealth of wide attackers. Manuel Pasqual, Milan Badelj, Mati Fernández, Matías Vecino, Cristian Tello, and Khouma Babacar all drew starts, with Borja Valero getting a break for his first match in about three decades.
Fiorentina have started pretty much every match this season in one of two ways: either a spectacular early goal or a completely disjointed team display. This one was definitely the latter, although the lads settled things down after the first ten minutes or so. Manuel Pasqual had the first good chance of the half, curling a long free kick into the corner that forced Marco Sportiello into a sprawling save. Naturally, the Viola immediately conceded a chance on the other end, with Ciprian Tătăruşanu diving to save Bakary Dramé's goal-bound header. Following a Gonzalo Rodríguez header that nearly found the net, things rather degenerated, with Mauricio Pinilla, Babacar, and Dramé all seeing yellow within two minutes. Things settled down, with the only other real chance of the half going to Federico Bernardeschi, whose low shot was saved by Sportiello. The half, as a whole, was more energetic than anything else, with Borja Valero's presence clearly missed.
Both teams came out firing, with Fernández and Badelj having a few pops from distance, while Pinilla, Luca Cigarini, and Jasmin Kurtić threatening for the hosts. Things remained end-to-end and, frankly, rather scrappy, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock in the 68th minute, with Fernández (of all people) popping up to meet Tello's lovely cross and nod it into the back post.
Things rather muddled about until Tello and Mati combined again for the second goal in the 81st minute, as Barcelona man beat the offside trap to race down the field. His first shot was uninspired, but Sportiello spilled the rebound right back to him, and the winger made no mistake at the second of time of asking.
While a 0-2 lead may seem a good time for a team to shut up shop and start thinking about a European tilt later that week, Fiorentina decided to keep the match interesting, allowing Andrea Conti to acrobatically poke the ball over the line after Pinilla nodded a corner to him in the 84th minute.
So, now that it was really time to dig in and grind out ten more minutes for the win, substitute Borja Valero (and yeah, it's as weird to write that as you think) drove down the pitch and threaded a flawless goal to Nikola Kalinić, who smartly finished from point-blank range to put the game to bed.
Hahaha, nope. Pinilla had to get his obligatory goal against the Viola before the match could end, completely losing Davide Astori and settling a 90th minute Kurtić cross before lashing it past Tătăruşanu to reduce the arrears and bring the match to a stunning 2-3 win for Fiorentina.
Tătăruşanu--6.5: Made a couple of nice saves, and wasn't really at fault for either goal.
Roncaglia--7: It's always nice when good Facundo shows up. He did a pretty dang good job against Papu Gómez, which isn't easy task.
Gonzalo--6.5: A little shakier than we're used to seeing him, but he still did a pretty solid job, all things considered.
Astori--6: Completely lost Pinilla for the last goal, but was otherwise solid.
Pasqual--7.5: Huh. I always forget that Manny'll have the odd game where he looks absolutely world-class. Good way to celebrate his 300th Serie A match.
Badelj--6.5: Man, it's nice to have him back, although he did look a bit off the pace at times. May need another week or two to regain full form.
Vecino--7: Gave his usual all-action performance in the middle. Still waiting for one of those splendid long shots to find the top corner.
Tello--9: This is the Cristian Tello we were really hoping we'd see. We knew he had pace to spare, but showed the brain to match it.
Fernández--8.5: This is more like the Mati we know and love. His ability to wriggle past the first defender and start the attack was on full display, although his passing was uncharacteristically sloppy.
Bernardeschi--6.5: More of an energetic match than an impressive one from Berna, although he certainly wasn't bad. Looks much more comfortable on the right.
Babacar--6.5: Just wasn't involved, although his defensive workrate remains marvelous. He was barely visible going forward, though.
Kalinić--7: Not particularly involved either, but scored a trademark goal, and did well to win some free kicks to relieve pressure.
Valero--7: As imperious as ever, although it would have been nice to see him control the game a bit more after Fiorentina went up. Showed way more pace than I thought he had for the Kalinić goal.
Tomović--n/a: Not on the pitch for long enough.