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Sassuolo 2-1 Fiorentina: Recap and highlights

A combination of self-inflicted damage and woeful refereeing see the Viola slump to an undeserved defeat.

US Sassuolo v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Yeah, pretty much.
Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Pre-match

While Alessio Dionisi didn’t make any big changes to his side, Vincenzo Italiano rotated almost everyone ahead of the Coppa Italia clash with Juventus on Wednesday. Bartłomiej Drągowski, Sofyan Amrabat, Youssef Maleh, Gaetano Castrovilli, and Jonathan Ikone were all in the XI.

On a more geopolitical scale, kickoff was delayed for five minutes as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was probably pointless but at least a decent gesture from the league to acknowledge what’s happening in the world.

First half

The first five minutes were breathless, back-and-forth stuff with both teams having a chance, and that pretty well set the tone for the rest of the game. Fiorentina sat a bit deeper at the beginning but slowly grew into the game. Gaetano Castrovilli looked like the most creative player early on, firing just wide and opening up the defense a couple of times with incisive passes. Sassuolo were dangerous too, though, and made that count when Hamed Junior Traoré nutmegged Álvaro Odriozola en route to scoring way too easily. Fiorentina beffata per oggi e per sempre et cetera.

The Viola opened up a bit but it was the hosts who looked slightly more dangerous, although both sides continued to look strong going forward and vulnerable at the back; Bartłomiej Drągowski made a few excellent saves. I’ll note here, too, that referee Alessandro Prontera made some pretty bad decisions. He let Giorgios Kyriakopolous get away with a scissor tackle on Cristiano Biraghi and allowed Mert Müldür to foul Riccardo Sottil incessantly, for example. In the final few minutes of the half, it was Ikone coming alive, though: he had three shots, two of which required Andrea Consigli to perform miracles, and you got the sense that the hosts were more than happy to regroup at the break.

Second half

Fiorentina emerged looking the fresher of the two sides and it was Ikone who teased a gorgeous pass through the Neroverdi defense, but Krzysztof Piątek’s touch let him down and he couldn’t turn it home after trying to round Consigli. That signaled the start of the Ikone show: the French winger constantly found space and time to play in dangerous passes, while Castrovilli also sparkled.

Prontera, however, continued to make baffling decisions that favored the hosts, particularly allowing Maxime Lopez to commit fouls for the entire half before eventually booking him for a tactical one, after which the midfielder yelled at him for a bit before getting pulled away. The Viola, meanwhile, kept knocking, but couldn’t quite get the door to open before substitute Giacomo Bonaventura was called for a very suspect handball, lost his cool, and earned two yellows in 10 seconds to get sent off. Compared to the handling Lopez received, it felt unbelievably unfair, but Fiorentina kept grinding and it was substitute Arthur Cabral who turned home Riccardo Saponara’s cross to score his first-ever Fiorentina goal, one you’d think that the visitors more than deserved on the balance of play.

Because the genre of this club is tragedy (and maybe farce sometimes), they conceded the winner with literally the last touch of the game as Lucas Martínez Quarta lost Gregoire Defrel for a diving header from close range. It was a heartbreaking, unjust, and completely expected conclusion to 90 minutes of idiocy.

Full time

Goals: Traoré 19’, Defrel 90’+3 (ass. Berardi); Cabral 87’ (ass. Saponara)

Cards: Lopez 70’; Italiano 68’ (lol), Bonaventura 79’ 79’

What’s next

The result means that Fiorentina lose the opportunity to jump all the way into 5th place, which stings. It also means that Giacomo Bonaventura is suspended for next week’s tricky clash with Hellas Verona. More than anything, though, it serves as a reminder that these players need to keep their heads better, and that the officiating in Serie A is as laughably bad as it’s ever been. The only silver lining is that this does maintain the Viola streak of losing a league game before winning in the Coppa Italia, so at least there’s that? I dunno, man. I’m pretty gutted by the whole damn thing.