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Empoli 2-1 Fiorentina: Match report and highlights

The Viola somehow manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Empoli FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Pretty much this for 90 minutes.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Pre-match

As the sun peeked in and out of the rain clouds and the fans traded (mostly good-natured) barbs, Aurelio Andreazzoli got in on the action by fielding a pair of players with Fiorentina connections in Patrick Cutrone and Szymon Żurkowski. Vincenzo Italiano responded in kind with Pietro Terracciano and Riccardo Saponara, although perhaps just because Bartłomiej Drągowski and Nicolás González weren’t fully fit to show their stuff in front of Rocco Commisso just after his birthday.

First half

The hosts came out blazing, constantly finding space through the channels and forcing Terracciano into action several times. Fiorentina were pinned back and it looked like another Venezia situation in the making, but the good guys eventually started to figure things out and get the ball forward. Nikola Milenković, Lucas Martínez Quarta, and Giacomo Bonaventura all missed really good chances as the rain sheeted down, but nobody could summon a goal and the half ended scoreless.

Second half

Fiorentina gradually ramped up the pressure and it finally paid off just before the hour mark. Dušan Vlahović weighted a wonderful pass out to José Callejón then sprinted in to turn the Spaniard’s low cross home.

Despite taking the lead, Fiorentina never looked comfortable. While they created (and missed) a few more chances, they looked fragile on the other end and, sure enough, Empoli made it count. The first one was on Pietro Terracciano, who missed his punch on a free kick and allowed former Viola prospect (and Florence native) Filippo Bandinelli to scramble one home near the end.

Because you can’t spell “full blown catastrophic meltdown” without “Fiorentina,” the wheels came off the defense and they let Nedim Bajrami stroll down the right (where they’d found far too much space all game) and cross for Andrea Pinamonti, who poked it home. Game, set, match.

Full time

Goals: Bandinelli 87’, Pinamonti 89’ (ass. Bajrami); Vlahović 57’ (ass. Callejón)

Cards: Tonelli 65’; Torreira 51’

What’s next

That was exactly how you don’t maintain momentum after a big win heading into the easiest stretch of games you’ll have this season; Italiano will be livid with his team, although he has to bear some of the blame for leaving things so open. With a quick turnaround—Sampdoria comes to the Franchi on Tuesday—he doesn’t have much time to fix what went wrong, although the training sessions will likely be very intense over the next couple days.

The larger picture is that Fiorentina drop to 8th when they had a chance to leapfrog the Roman clubs with a win. Instead, it’s a fourth straight loss on the road, and maybe this is becoming a problem. But hey, at least Vlahović is now the sole capocannoniere with 11 so far. Doesn’t that make you feel better? And no, my eye isn’t twitching at all.