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Fiorentina 2 (4)-2(1) Parma: Match report and highlights

It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fun, but the Viola mount a comeback and advance to the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia.

ACF Fiorentina v Parma Calcio - Coppa Italia Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Pre-match

Vincenzo Italiano rotated his side, starting pretty much all his backups outside of Nikola Milenković and maybe Fabiano Parisi. Fabio Pecchia stuck with his usual XI. You know, the one that’s led Parma to the top of Serie B (and yes, that would feel very significant).

First half

The game rapidly settled into a pattern: Fiorentina would pass the ball around, work it into the final third, then lose it and let Parma break the other way. Both sides stuck to the script faithfully, with the visitors looking more likely to score despite having almost none of the ball and being, y’know, a Serie B team. M’Bala Nzola should’ve opened the scoring after some great work by Riccardo Sottil and Antonín Barák, but Woyo Coulibaly somehow blocked it; Nzola remains the most snakebit player on earth.

That miss proved even more costly, as Parma galloped up field on the break not long after. Oliver Christensen made a good save on Wylan Cyprien’s initial effort, then Ange-Yoan Bonny crashed it off the upright, then Adrián Bernabé spanked it into the empty net via the crossbar. It was a lovely goal, yeah, but the defending needed the Benny Hill music behind it.

It took all of 90 seconds for Yerry Mina to pass the ball straight to Valentin Mihăilă, who drove forward and then squared for Bonny to finish. 0-2 just like that, and entirely deserved.

The drama wasn’t over. Fiorentina nearly got one back after Alessandro Circati handled a Josip Brekalo cross, but a VAR check overturned the call on the field as he was just outside the box when he made contact, and Rolando Mandragora crushed the ensuing free kick into the wall’s knees. Parma ended up coming close twice again via Bernabé after another brainless Viola turnover and then by Circati off a corner (denied by a great Christensen save), but the half ended with the hosts lucky to be down by just 2.

Second half

Italiano threw on Luca Ranieri, Gino Infantino, and Arthur to start the half, but it was clear that not much had changed when Nzola outmuscled Circati and set up Barák from 6 yards out, but the Czech international could only weakly prod it at goalkeeper Edoardo Corvi. Fiorentina had a couple other half chances—Nzola had a shot blocked after Barák slipped him through, Sottil curled a free kick on target that forced a save—but the Viola didn’t really come alive until Nzola brought down a Sottil cross and scored a lovely effort into the top corner. It was marvelous, but also makes you wonder why he doesn’t do it more often.

With just a 1-goal deficit, the Viola reanimated and laid siege to the Parma goal. That pressure paid off when Sottil swung in a cross that bounced off Yordan Osorio’s arm. VAR confirmed that this one was indeed a penalty, and up stepped Sottil to the spot. He was a bit lucky, as Corvi got a paw to his shot but couldn’t keep it out, but Handsome Ricky and company sure didn’t care. Just like that Fiorentina had mounted the unlikeliest of comebacks.

Extra time

Both teams had some good chances. For the visitors, Dennis Man set up Tjaš Begić, but Christensen again made the stop, with Arthur clearing it off the line. At the other end, Lucas Beltrán headed a Ranieri cross straight at Corvi while unmarked, but it ended up going to penalties, which are always too damn stressful.

Penalties

Biraghi: sent Corvi the wrong way

Hernani: sent Christensen the wrong way

Kouamé: sent Corvi the wrong way

Man: sent Christensen the wrong way but pinged it of the upright

Milenković: belted it home via the crossbar

Camara: ballooned it over

Beltrán: Corvi got a touch but couldn’t keep it out

Full time

Goals: Nzola 83’ (ass. Sottil), Sottil PK 89’; Bernabé 21’,

Cards: Mina 38’, Nzola 92’, Infantino 120’; Chichizola (lol) 38’, Ansaldi 96’ (lol)

What’s next

Italiano clearly wanted to rest some key players ahead of Sunday’s big game at AS Roma but will instead have a few more tired legs than he wanted, although Nico González and Jack Bonaventura will be fresh, at least. There’s no letup from the schedule, either, as the final Conference League group game looms the following Thursday with the long trip to Ferencváros, then back to Florence for Monza the following Sunday.

While the mister will be furious with his side’s performance in the first half, he’ll likely take the result and keep moving. The next round lies a month away (9 January 2024) against the winner of Inter Milan and Bologna in a couple of weeks. There’s a lot to unpack from a game like this, but for now, let’s just sit back and enjoy the win. Fiorentina’s still in the hunt for the Coppa Italia.