Federico Chiesa dropped to the bench with a knock, while GIovanni Simeone also was dropped but due to poor form. Nikola Milenkovic moved back to his natural centre back position as Vincent Laurini came in at right back. Meanwhile, for the hosts Khouma Babacar played against his former side alongside Di Francesco and Domenico Berardi in the front three.
Fiorentina started the game positively and looked to press forward with Vincent Laurini going forward down the right. The full-back crossed in for Marko Pjaca, but his header was just wide of the target.
Khouma Babacar had his and Sassuolo first effort on goal and it almost was the breakthrough. It needed a great fingertip save from Alban Lafont to keep him out.
Domenico Berardi was having a fine game for the hosts, his dribbling and pace was causing all sorts of problems for the Viola defence.
Fiorentina were really struggling to create anything from the match. But, finally had a chance as Edimilson Fernandes played a great through ball to Gerson. The Brazilian never looked confident and failed to get a positive shot away as his strike was blocked.
To sum up, how bad Fiorentina were playing Vincent Laurini tried an effort on goal, but as expected it went about a mile wide.
Mehdi Bourabia had a great chance at the end of the half as he stuck towards goal from 12 yards out. On the angle his effort could only hit the side netting, it should have been the opening goal.
The first half as about as boring and drab as you could imagine with Sassuolo looking the better side and Fiorentina sitting back waiting for something to happen.
Federico Chiesa came on for the second half as Stefano Pioli needed a spark from his side who were very flat in the first.
Fiorentina had a huge let off as Pol Lirola whipped in a brilliant low cross, but thankfully for the Viola defence, it evaded everyone in the box.
Marco Benassi almost got the opening goal after Andrea Consigli came out to the edge of his box and failed to punch the ball clear, it dropped to Benassi who had the goal at his mercy. Marlon came out of nowhere and blocked it brilliantly as he kept the scores level.
Minutes after Benassi’s chance, Alfred Duncan broke the deadlock. On the counter attack the ball was whipped in from the left and cleared by Lafont, but straight to Duncan who was allowed to shoot from long range, the Ghanaian found the top corner with a fantastic strike.
Five minutes later Sassuolo doubled the lead, Khouma Babacar of all people tucked home a cross from Duncan who turned provider. Fiorentina had collapsed, it had been a poor performance from the Viola and the players looked lost at sea.
The game had well and truly sprung into life and Fiorentina scored a goal out of absolutely nothing. Edimilson Fernandes’ strike crashed off the post and dropped straight to Simeone to tap home. After a VAR check, the goal was given and the game was back on, the long goal drought was finally over for the Argentine striker.
Benassi had a fine chance to get the scores level, but on the edge of the box, his half-volley was skied over the bar. It looked as if it just wasn’t going to be the midfielders day.
With Fiorentina right back into the game, Sassuolo threw a sucker-punch. Again, the Viola defenders were too slow to mark the midfielders, this time it was Stefano Sensi who struck from longe range and managed to beat Lafont. It was a great goal, but one which could have been avoided.
To their credit, Pioli’s men never gave up and were still pressing for a goal to get the comeback underway.
With only five minutes left in the game, Filip Djuric got booked twice in the same minute, one for a late challenge and a second for his reaction to the ref. It was exactly the shot in the arm the Viola players needed.
Marco Benassi’s luck finally changed, Laurini put in a great ball in from the right and found Fernandes whose header was well saved by Consigli. It dropped to Benassi who couldn’t miss.
With minutes left Nikola Milenkovic was sent off and both sides were reduced to ten men. The big Serb said something to the referee which didn’t go down well and was shown a second yellow.
Despite being down to ten it didn’t put off Pioli’s men, they were pushing and pushing for an equaliser. German Pezzella with a minute to go won the ball in his own half and cleared it up the pitch, the Argentine kept going and took the ball up the pitch and played a brilliant ball through to Kevin Mirallas. The Belgian kept his composure and fired home brilliantly, the comeback was complete.
Don’t think any Viola fan will forget that game, an incredible match which may have just saved Pioli’s job. For large periods of the game, it was simply not good enough, but you have to praise the character of the team and the resilience they showed. The team never gave up and it was brilliant to see, hopefully, it will inspire the group to now go and win a few games.
Alban Lafont: 6- Maybe could have done better with his clearances which resulted in the first goal.
Nikola Milenkovic: 5- A stupid decision to get sent off for dissent thankfully it didn’t matter but a big loss to the side.
German Pezzella: 7- He’s such a good player, made some fantastic tackles and blocks. Also, was brilliant for the equalising goal.
Vincent Laurini: 6- Not a bad performance, did well going forward to. Will no doubt keep playing with Milenkovic suspended.
Cristiano Biraghi: 5- Struggled to deal with Berardi in the first half and wasn’t as effective as we’ve seen him in the ast going forward.
Jordan Veretout: 6- Struggled to get involved as the Sassuolo midfield dominated.
Marco Benassi: 7- Was always looking to make things happen and on another day could have scored two or three.
Edimilson Fernandes: 6- Had a good game, was involved throughout the game.
Gerson: 5- Anonymous and got took off for Simeone early in the second half.
Marko Pjaca: 5- The same as Gerson and got brought off for Chiesa at the break.
Dusan Vlahovic: 5- Felt sorry for the Serb he was feeding on scraps throughout the game and couldn’t get involved.
Federico Chiesa: 6- Didn’t do anything special, but his energy is infectious.
Giovanni Simeone: 7- So pleased for him to get a goal, after along drought he needed anything to go in and he got it.
Kevin Mirallas: 7- What a moment to get his first goal, brilliant composure as he expertly got the equaliser.