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AC Milan 2-1 Fiorentina: Match report and highlights

A noble effort from the Viola undone by some outrageous officiating and a couple of lapses at the worst possible moments.

AC Milan v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Simone Sozza, pictured here in his natural habitat of ignoring a stone cold penalty.
Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images


Neither manager really named any surprises in the XI, although Vincenzo Italiano lost not one but two players during the pre-game warmup. Lucas Martínez Quarta and Giacomo Bonaventura were replaced by Igor and Antonín Barák, respectively, leaving the Fiorentina bench looking a bit bare.

Let’s all take a moment for Bartłomiej Drągowski, too, who suffered a serious injury in Spezia’s win over Hellas Verona and will now miss the World Cup. He’s always been tthe definition of a nice guy and it’s really tough to see him forced out of the tournament.

First half

It started about as poorly as it could have: Rafael Leāo played a simple 1-2 with Olivier Giroud, who put the Portuguese winger in space to finish past Pietro Terracciano. Leāo may be the best winger in Serie A right now but Nikola Milenković in particular has to do better there.

A slightly shell-shocked Fiorentina didn’t respond immediately, but slowly grew into the game. An injury to Dodô at the quarter hour mark meant Lorenzo Venuti came on, but it was at the other end where the Viola started clicking. Their furious pressing meant that AC Milan couldn’t play out the back, and the good guys had a few chances—including a Cristiano Biraghi blast against the post—just based on that. Jonathan Ikoné and Barák in particular were conducting things, with the former finding space to combine with his teammates every time Fiorentina went forward. He was the fitting goalscorer, then, although the finish was quite scruffy, and it’s no coincidence that it came down Ikoné’s wing (with Venuti involved as well).

The Viola kept dominating the game and came close a couple more times, including with a decent penalty shout after Pierre Kalulu caught him in the shin with his spikes. That seemed to signal open season for Milan, and they finished the half with a couple of fast breaks after obvious fouls on Sofyan Amrabat went uncalled. Milenković did well to show Sandro Tonali wide on the first one, and Venuti made a gargantuan goal line clearance on the second. It felt like both teams wanted the half to end so they could regroup and figure out their next move.

Second half

Milan emerged completely re-energized and pushed the Viola back for the first 10 minutes or so, threatening several times. Terracciano made a tremendous save on Giroud from point blank, and it felt like the visitors had just about weathered the storm and began finding space on the counter. Referee Simone Sozza and VAR Michael Fabbri took center stage, though, deciding that this Fikayo Tomori tackle on Ikoné wasn’t a penalty. I mean, c’mon.

Even after that, Fiorentina had some good moments, particularly on the break, but the final ball just never came together. Aleksa Terzić, Christian Kouamé, and Luka Jović were all guilty of wasting opportunities as both sides rather gave up on pressing after an exhausting match. Just before full time, Ikoné looked to have won it, beating Ciprian Tătărușanu but seeing Tomori clear his effort off the line.

And, because this is Fiorentina, Milan immediately scored (although there was a pretty clear Rossonero foul in the buildup, naturally). Aster Vranckx looped in a cross from the right that Terracciano flapped at, missing it completely. It dropped and cannoned into the net off of Nikola Milenković, although he really wasn’t in a position to do anything after his goalkeeper whiffed.

If you thought the drama was over, well, you don’t know the Viola. Tomori got away with another blatant foul in the box, this time shoving over Milenković on a free kick, but Sozza just blew the whistle instead of asking any questions.

Full time

Goals: Leāo 2’ (ass. Giroud), Milenković 90’+2; Barák 28’

Cards: Díaz 21’; Barák 49’, Saponara 50’, Mandragora 63’, Jović 74’, Italiano 74’

What’s next

A long, long time to sit and stew about this one. Fiorentina were absolutely the better team and were denied by an officiating crew that probably shouldn’t work in Serie A again but doubtless won’t be reprimanded. The Viola finish 2022 in 10th place, in the top half of the table, but the way this game went down leaves a very sour taste. Hopefully the returns of Riccardo Sottil, Gaetano Castrovilli, and Nicolás González in the new year make a difference, but it won’t matter if the refs have decided that this is how these games are going to be.