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Bologna 1-1 Fiorentina: Match report and player grades

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Considering the circumstances, a point isn't a bad result. Still, though, the team, the staff, and the fans will probably be frustrated that they could have had a win.

Smile getting wiped off face in 3, 2, 1...
Smile getting wiped off face in 3, 2, 1...
Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images

First half

Facundo Roncaglia nearly gave Bologna a flying start, losing the ball to Mattia Destro in the 2nd minute; the striker opted for a spectacular long range strike, which ended up high and wide, but notice had been served. Fiorentina dug in after that and controlled things, playing some nice combinations through Cristian Tello and Federico Bernardeschi, with Borja Valero pulling the strings as usual. It was Borja, though, who mustered the first Viola shot, albeit a weak and off-target dribbler in the 12th minute. By then, the match had settled into a pattern: Fiorentina controlling passing around the back and midfield, with Bologna trying to pressure the Viola midfield and break quickly with their pacy front three. Valero, Bernardeschi, and Tello continued to look like Fiorentina's best chance of taking the lead, with Emanuele Giaccherini the protagonist for the home side. Ciprian Tătăruşanu made a couple of good saves on shots from Destro in the 18th and Godfred Donsah in the 37th, while Cristian Tello had the only effort on-frame for the visitors in the 32nd, although the Viola were probably the more threatening team. All in all, it was an energetic, rather than inspired, 45 minutes, and a scoreless game was a fair reflection.

Second half

The second period started much as had the first, although Matías Fernández picked up a booking in the 47th. That would prove to be pivotal, as he got a second just 10 minutes later for a blatant shirt-pull on Destro deep in Bologna's half and trudged off. Paulo Sousa reshaped into 3-4-1-1, with Cristian Tello playing behind Nikola Kalinić and generally staying left to protect Manuel Pasqual. Instead of dropping into their shell, though, Fiorentina remained commendably proactive, and went ahead after Kalinić held up the ball, released Tello down the left, and made an excellent run to drag three defenders with him. Bernardeschi motored into the space they'd left and coolly met the Spanish winger's low cross, dispatching it into the bottom right corner past a helpless Angelo da Costa to give Fiorentina an improbable 0-1 lead away from home and a man down in the 59th minute.

It wasn't to last, though, as Bologna struck back just 4 minutes later. Donsah slipped into the right side of the box and cut it back to Giaccherini, waiting at the penalty spot for a first time finish that left Tătăruşanu no chance. Things started getting heated shortly thereafter, as Davide Astori and Giaccherini got into over a foul on Gonzalo, both ending up in the book. All credit to Paulo Sousa and company, though, who kept their heads up and continued to attack despite their numerical deficit, highlighted by the Portuguese mister bringing on Mauro Zárate for Tello in the 81st minute. Before that, though, Tătăruşanu did some bacon saving, tipping Saphir Taïder's upper-corner-bound curler over the bar in the 73rd. He also made a couple of dramatic saves on shots from substitute Sergio Floccari, including a point blank volley in stoppage time that he brilliant smothered to preserve a vital point.

Grades

Ciprian Tătăruşanu: 8--One of Tata's best games for Fiorentina thus far. His save on Taider's shot was top shelf, and his last minute denial of Floccari was brilliant. Not at fault at all for the goal.

Facundo Roncaglia: 5--Nearly gave up a 2nd minute goal and was tormented by Giaccherini all day, eventually allowing the pint-sized winger to go free for the goal.

Gonzalo Rodríguez: 6.5--Was his usual excellent self, marshaling his defense and putting in some good last-ditch defending.

Davide Astori: 6--Let Donsah slip into his area a couple of times for a shot and for the assist and could have had a winner with a free header off a corner, but was reasonably solid.

Federico Bernardeschi: 9--Berna was at his best today. Incisive, direct, and popping up for a critical goal. Still a bit profligate in possession, but it's fun to see him developing into a superstar right before our eyes.

Matías Vecino: 6--Steady, but nothing more than steady. Losing Milan Badelj has forced him into the holding role, which he doesn't seem entirely comfortable in. He needs to be unleashed to charge around the midfield like an angry hornet instead of being shackled to the area just ahead of the defense.

Borja Valero: 7--Vintage Borja display, controlling the middle of the park and putting teammates in places to succeed.

Manuel Pasqual: 6--Actually looked decent at times, but also looked every day of his 33 years. He can still swing in crosses with the best of them, and he certainly isn't guilty of slacking off, but he's definitely on the downside of what's been a career to be proud of.

Matías Fernández: 3--Wasn't terrible in the first half, but was pretty anonymous. Combined with the unbelievably dumb red card, this was a head-scratcher for Mati. Hard to say what's happened to him between last year and this year; maybe that Copa America run's left him drained for the whole season.

Cristian Tello: 7.5--Beginning to look like a steal. We knew about his pace, but he's got a (very Barcelona, in truth) knack for finding space out wide. Often looked like the most dangerous player out there.

Khouma Babacar: 5.5--Barely involved in the first half and could have done better, considering Tello and Bernardeschi's dominance on the wings. Won a few individual battles, but just couldn't find space.

Nikola Kalinić: 7--Good hold up play and intelligent movement, as per usual. He's becoming a slightly faster and less lethal Alberto Gilardino ca. 2008, and that's pretty great.

Mauro Zárate: n/a--Had one shot from distance that got everyone up for a moment, but nothing else.

Nenad Tomović

What's next

After Fiorentina's destruction of the Rossoblu at the Artemio Franchi earlier this season, it's not entirely unfair to have expected a similar result away. However, Roberto Donadoni has unlocked the potential of this team in a way that Delio Rossi (shockingly) couldn't. This Bologna group is young, hungry, talented, and likely to take some scalps in the second half of this season. Berna's goal made it look like this could be a standout game, but a point is not a bad result for playing a man down for half an hour and away from home.

Still, though, Fiorentina still sit 2 points above Inter Milan, although the Neroblu have a game in hand against Hellas Verona tomorrow. On the plus side, Fiorentina loanees and alumni Gilberto, Ante Rebić, Luca Toni, Romulo, and Giampaolo Pazzini could give Hellas their first winning streak of the season, which would be swell. Fiorentina, meanwhile, resume their Europe League campaign against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday.