Sassuolo boss Alessio Dionisi trotted out a couple of youngsters but didn’t do anything outrageous. Vincenzo Italiano rotated his side, likely looking to keep some crucial players fresh for Wednesday’s Conference League final. With neither side really focused all that much on this game, the Mapei felt like the perfect venue: it was, as usual, about half empty, with the Fiorentina fans comprising a significant portion of the spectators.
This one just felt disjointed the whole way through as neither side really got going. Arthur Cabral glanced a header off the post for the good guys and Andrea Pinamonti trickled a shot wide just ahead of the break off a free kick, but the rare action in the final third was imprecise. Frankly, it was a pretty uninteresting 45 minutes.
It took all of a minute for Fiorentina to take the lead. Aleksa Terzić fizzed in a cross that poor Alessandro Russo—making his senior debut for Sassuolo—spilled right into Cabral’s path, and King Arthur made no mistake, scoring about as simple a goal as he’ll ever have.
Thank goodness for Cabral, because the goal really opened things up. There was considerably more action as Sassuolo tried to get one back in front of their fans and Fiorentina looked to grab another on the break. It looked like Dodô had won a stone-cold penalty after Rogério elbowed him in the throat in the area, but referee Matteo Marchetti didn’t even check VAR. Instead, he gave a spot kick on the other end after Cabral caught a corner with his shoulder. It was the right call (unless you’re AS Roma in the Europa League final) but the Viola felt hard done by after the Dodô incident. Domenico Berardi buried the PK anyways and we had a tie ballgame.
Sassuolo equalized with Berardi's goal pic.twitter.com/mt3EH74XMZ— FootColic ⚽️ (@FootColic) June 2, 2023
Fiorentina kept plugging away, though, with Cabral nearly adding another, but it was Riccardo Saponara who restored the lead shortly after with a Certified Cheese Banger™. For a guy who’s out of contract over the summer, he definitely left fans with a parting gift if the club doesn’t bring him back.
What a beauty from Saponara pic.twitter.com/5bxjkeqqnx— Follow @footitalia1 (@footitalia2) June 2, 2023
It didn’t take long for things to tilt even more heavily Fiorentina’s way, as Ruan Tressoldi got himself a second yellow card for a late tackle on Nicolás González, leaving Sassuolo trailing both a goal and a player. Nico decided to capitalize and got a goal of his own, although he took “crash the post” a little too literally, colliding with the frame of the goal and coming up pretty gingerly. He was able to continue, at least, so should be alright for Wednesday.
The drama still wasn’t finished, though, as Nico got in behind again. The flag went up pretty late, correctly, but Rogério apparently wasn’t happy with Marcchetti and yelled something at him, earning a straight red card as the game fizzled out.
Goals: Berardi 71’ (PK); Cabral 46’, Saponara 79’ (ass. Terzić), González
Cards: Berardi 32’, Ruan 55’ 81’, Rogério red card 88’, Marchizza 90’+2; Terzić 7’, Ranieri 32’, Kouamé 45’, Cabral 70’
The win ensures that Fiorentina will finish 8th or 9th (pending Torino’s result against Inter Milan tomorrow) with 56 points, 1 or 2 places and 6 points off last season’s pace. That’s a pretty impressive achievement considering the injuries, the lack of an in-form striker for the first half of the season, and a 3-front campaign. These guys busted tail all year and deserve a lot of credit, even if they’re just outside the European places (at least until Juventus get docked more points, then get them back, et cetera, all summer long).
Of course, the season still isn’t quite over, because the Conference League final against West Ham looms on Wednesday. The team should be heading for Prague pretty soon, but you know that Italiano and company have already been scheming for this one. Should be a lot of fun.