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Fiorentina 1-1 Atalanta: Recap and Player ratings.

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Atalanta snatch a point at the death as Fiorentina couldn't hang on despite the heroics of Marco Sportiello.

ACF Fiorentina v Atalanta BC - Serie A
Yep, Pioli’s face pretty much sums it up.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Pre-Match

It’s becoming a familiar system with Pioli. It’s 4-2-3-1 with Giovanni Simeone leading the line. There was one enforced change with Milan Badelj Being red carded in the previous outing against Juventus. This mean that Carlos Sanchez was brought into the holding role.

As for Atalanta they deployed some familiar faces in a 4-3-2-1 system. Josip Ilicic while frustrating has obvious talent and a point to prove upon his return to Florence. La Dea hadn’t won at the Artemio Franchi since 1993 and hadn't been Fiorentina at all since 2012. While the records point to a Fiorentina win, it was sure to be a competitive affair.

First Half

It was an incredibly fast start, with much of the attacking by the home side. La Viola had immediately targeted the Atalanta left-hand side. The likes of Laurini and Simeone looking to cross the ball into the box.

The first real of the chance however, fell to the away side. On 10 minutes, after some sloppy defending, Papu Gomez slotted through former Viola player Jasmin Kurtic. The midfielder struck from a tight angle which forced Marco Sportiello into a smart stop. An early warning side from the away side.

Minutes later, however, Federico Chiesa unleashed an absolute rocket out of absolutely nothing to break the deadlock. A bullet of a strike, the nineteen-year-old was off balance, but that didn't stop him, he brought it down excellently and stuck a half-volley superbly into the top right corner. Young Federico is really turning into some talent, he’s now scored two wonder goals in two consecutive home games.

On 22 minutes it should have been 1-1. After a swift counter-attack, Gomez played a brilliant ball in with the outside of his foot to Remo Freuler who from 6 yards out was presented with a glorious chance. It would have been an equalizer if it wasn't for a fantastic diving save from Sportiello, who threw himself in front of the shot to deny Atalanta from leveling things up.

Josip Ilicic was at the forefront for Atalanta, all of their attacks were going through the Slovenian. He very much looked like he had a point to prove to the Viola supporters who hadn't always been his biggest fan. Chiesa, however, was running the show. He’s so energetic and when full of confidence his quality shines through.

Atalanta finished the half strongest. After a succession of corners, Jose Luis Palomino could have equalized after the center back had a free header, but just couldn't it keep down

Second Half

5 minutes into the second half and Ilicic was inches away from scoring the equalizer. After German Pezzella fouled the Slovenian, he picked himself up to take the free kick from 25 yards out. It was a curling effort which was narrowly over the bar. It had Sportiello scrambling towards his right in effort to save the free kick.

Khouma Babacar was first to be brought on by Pioli, in place of Simeone who had struggled to put a stamp on the game. 52 minutes into the game it was an early substitution by the Viola coach, begging the question whether the Argentine may have had an injury.

Right on the hour mark, the away side were given a penalty. A very soft decision, Pezzella brought down Josip ilicic in the box but he looked to play the ball. Fiorentina protested for the ref to use the VAR system. The spot kick was given regardless. Papu Gomez stepped up and hit it low to his left. Sportiello however, was not to be denied, the new first-choice goalkeeper made a stunning save. It was heroic from the goalkeeper who was having a fantastic game between the sticks.

With 20 minutes still left to play Fiorentina were really struggling to create chances. It was the away side who were doing much of the pressing while operating in the Fiorentina half. This had prompted Pioli to use his final substitution as Cyril Thereau was replaced by Valentin Eysseric.

Fiorentina could have easily had a penalty of their own. Davide Astori was clearly tugged back in the area following a corner. Had referee, Luca Pairetto seen it he could have easily pointed to the spot.

Marco Sportiello was keeping the home side in this match. Another fantastic save this time to deny Timothy Castagne. He found himself free 10 yards out, he attempted to hit it across the goalkeeper but again Sportiello pulled out a superb save.

With four minutes to play. Luca Pairetto somehow didn’t give Fiorentina what looked like a clear penalty as Berisha brought down Gil Dias. It appeared as if the referee used VAR but to the amazement of everyone, it wasn’t given still.

Deep into injury time with all the Atalanta players surging forward, a clearance right up the pitch saw Babacar racing through. The Senegalese internationals touch was so poor, he couldn't get a shot away and it trickled through to Berisha in goal.

Unbelievable. With the last kick of the game Atalanta leveled the game. After route one stuff from De Roon. Cornelius nodded it down to Freuler who struck it low right in the corner to leave Sportiello helpless. In truth, it was a deserved goal but so cruel at the same time.

Post Match

It was seconds away from a brilliant three points. Marco Sportiello was absolutely exceptional. Without him in goal it could have been a lot worse. It feels like a defeat conceding so late but, Atalanta were the better team in the second half. The referee’s performance left a lot to be desired and the confusion whether they used VAR will take some getting used to as Gil Dias was clearly denied a penalty. Still a long way to go for this young side and the game management has to better in these winning scenarios especially when the team is under pressure.

Player Ratings

Marco Sportiello: 9 - An amazing display in goal by Sportiello. He pretty much saved everything that came his way. Deserved a clean sheet, but couldn't do anything about Freuler’s late goal.

Vincent Laurini: 6 - Struggled at times with Gomez, but without the last gasp goal it would have been a good night for all the defenders.

German Pezzella: 6- Gave away a soft penalty but had a decent game throughout.

Davide Astori: 7- Was very good at the heart of the defence a real captains performance in which there was a lot of defending to do in the second half.

Cristiano Biraghi: 6- Was brought off injured, looks a solid left back. Hopefully just a precaution.

Carlos Sanchez: 6- Had a solid game alongside Veretout, mopped up things well in the midfield.

Jordan Veretout: 6.5 - Looks a good player and tried to strive forward to influence the attack.

Gil Dias: 5- Never really got in the game. Still lacking that final pass/shot which could make him a very good player.

Federico Chiesa: 7- Scored an amazing goal which was so almost the winner. He's got some future.

Cyril Thereau: 6.5- His best game in a Viola shirt. He was industrious but faded in the second half.

Giovanni Simeone: 5- Was isolated for a lot of the first half but really struggled to make any impact.

Bench:

Khouma Babacar: 5 - Really should have scored the winner, was sent clean through on goal and couldn't even get a shot away as his touch was so poor.

Maxi Olivera: 5- Slotted in fine but was mostly defending as Atalanta were on top.

Valentin Eysseric 5- Offered very little going forward due to most of the play being in the Fiorentina half.