Vincenzo Italiano fielded a decidedly odd lineup featuring Marco Benassi at rightback and Christian Kouamé on the right wing, likely with an eye to keeping some key legs fresh ahead of a midweek clash with FC Twente in the Conference League; with Rocco Commisso in attendance, there were also whispers that this was Cousin Vinnie’s subtle way of asking for reinforcements. Cremonese, on the other hand, didn’t spring any surprises.
Fiorentina came out and dominated, hardly allowing the visitors out of their own half for the first quarter hour and coming close a few times as Kouamé and Riccardo Sottil constantly breezed by their defenders. It was the former who created the first, beating Leonardo Sernicola like a drum before sqauring for a wide open Giacomo Bonaventura, who hit a lovely first-time shot with his left to beat Ionuț Radu.
Giacomo Bonaventura gets Fiorentina's first league goal of the season pic.twitter.com/RZ6woIgoKU— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 14, 2022
Because this is Fiorentina, it took about a minute for the Grigiorossi to respond. Paolo Ghiglione got loose down the left and put in a cross that David Okereke headed home with a ton of power, leaving Pierluigi Gollini no chance. The assist really belongs to Lucas Martínez Quarta, though, who somehow lost the Nigerian forward despite being within arm’s reach of him.
WHAT A WAY FOR DAVID OKEREKE TO MARK HIS SERIE A DEBUT FOR CREMONESE pic.twitter.com/MC6LcqdgNb— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 14, 2022
After reestablishing control and having several good chances, the Viola eventually retook the lead. This time, it was Sottil who beat a man and played in a cross for Luka Jović, who took a touch to control it, another to put himself in space, and then raked it back across goal to open his account in Serie A and restore the lead.
Luka Jović (24) with his debut goal in Serie A for #Fiorentina.— Serbian Football Scout (@SerbFootyScout) August 14, 2022
Nikola Milenković set up it up with an interception. Jović with the composed finish.
Already came close with a header & could have had 1 more had Sottil squared it. Great start though!pic.twitter.com/iv5Z6RDibU
The action wasn’t over, however, as Gonzálo Escalante did his level best to amputate Kouamé’s foot at the ankle with a terrible two-footed lunge, rightly earning his marching orders just before half time. The fact that none of his teammates even really tried protesting tells you just how bad it was, and he was very lucky that his victim wasn’t seriously injured.
Despite having finished with all the momentum, the Viola emerged from the break looking a bit fragile. Cremonese found space on the break a few times as the hosts tried to slow the tempo but instead torpedoed the forward drive that had handed them the ascendancy, leading to a couple of ropy moments at the back. That ropiness came home to roost when Cristian Buonaiuto’s quick corner caught Gollini completely offguard; he clawed it off the line to prevent an olimpico, but Matteo Bianchetti strolled in to poke home the rebound and level the scores.
Fiorentina 2 - 2 Cremonese— F97 Goals (@F97Goals) August 14, 2022
Cristian Buonaiuto 68'https://t.co/2xiK0dCMcL
A clearly-rattled Fiorentina took a little while to recover, but finally figured out that they had advantages in both numbers and talent and finally pinned Cremonese back, laying siege to the goal and forcing Radu into a handful of good saves and the Grigiorosso defense into some desperate tackling. Sottil won what looked like a stone cold penalty that referee Juan Luca Sacchi somehow ignored. Aside from a Dessers chance after LMQ made a hash of a high ball, it was all the Viola, but it felt like they simply weren’t going to make the breakthrough. Fortunately for them, they didn’t have to: in the 5th minute of injury time, Radu inexplicably carried a looping Rolando Mandragora cross into his own net.
Goals: Bonaventura 16’ (ass. Kouamé), Jović 34’ (ass. Sottil) Radu OG 90’+5; Okereke 19’ (ass. Ghiglione), Bianchetti 68’
Cards: Chiricheș 9’, Escalante red card 43’, Ghiglione 62’, Okereke 82’
Welcome back, Fiorentina. That was about as typical of a game as we could’ve expected. The good news is that it was, in the end, a win, albeit the stupidest one I can recall from this club in years. Still, there’s clearly plenty of work to be done, hopefully before the side hosts Twente on Thursday. And please spare a thought for poor Ionuț Radu, who is probably hoping, more than anything, for a sinkhole to open directly underneath him.