Fiorentina traveled across the Apennines to take on Sassuolo, a team that has been their bugbear of late, and rolled out what was very much a second-choice XI as Vincenzo Italiano clearly opted to save his stars’ legs for the midweek Coppa Italia clash with Juventus. It’s also worth noting that the traveling support drowned out the few fans at the Mapei, turning the atmosphere into one that almost felt like a home game.
As you’d expect between two of the best passing sides in Italy, the game was open and breathless and lots of fun, with each side producing numerous chances. It was the hosts who struck first via Hamed Junior Traoré, who nutmegged Álvaro Odriozola and beat Lucas Martínez Quarta too easily before stroking it into the back of the net. The youngster clearly had Odriozola’s number, rising over him to head just off frame as well; on the other end, though, Gaetano Castrovilli was superb, twice coming close. In the closing minutes, Jonathan Ikone had three chances to score but saw Andrea Consigli save all of them. Referee Alessandro Prontera also showed a willingness to let play get very rough indeed, none more striking that a Giorgios Kyriakopoulos scissor tackle on Cristiano Biraghi that wasn’t even whistled for a foul despite looking like, at minimum, a cardable offense.
The Viola dominated the opening moments of the second half, with Castrovilli and Ikone tormenting the Neroverdi defense, but Krzysztof Piątek wasted a glorious opportunity and the rest of the attackers couldn’t quite click. Things came to a head when Prontera booked Giacomo Bonaventura for a handball (for which he certainly shouldn’t have been booked), then sent the veteran midfielder off after Jack yelled something in response. It was poor judgement from the Viola man but clearly an ego trip from Prontera, especially after he let Maxime Lopez get away with similar behavior (and a lot more fouls) moments earlier.
Even with 10, though, Fiorentina looked reasonably dangerous, although Bartłomiej Drąngowski had to make a few good stops at the other end. However, it was substitute Arthur Cabral who equalized late, bundling home a Riccardo Saponara cross. The joy was short-lived, though, as a Gregoire Defrel header at the death undid all the hard work and handed Sassuolo 3 points that, on the balance of play, you can’t say they really deserved. Anyways, here’s all our coverage. Enjoy.