Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Ebrahim Sadien On April - 9 - 2013

Matchday Recap: Complacent Milan

Fiorentina fought back from 2-0 down to gain a share of the spoils with AC Milan at a packed Stadio Franchi on Sunday afternoon in a match marred by controversy.

Despite Milan extending their unbeaten league run to thirteen games, a complacent performance squandered a perfect opportunity to heap pressure on Napoli. Former Fiorentina captain, Ricardo Montolivo opened the scoring in the first half before crossing for Mathieu Flamini to double the lead in the second period. La Viola who were reduced to ten men late in the first half fought back with two penalties as the game ended 2-2. Unfortunately the encounter will be remembered for all the wrong reasons due to a number of controversial refereeing decisions.

Massimiliano Allegri started with his now familiar 4-3-3. Montolivo on his first return to Florence since his departure significantly took the captain’s armband in Massimo Ambrosini’s absence. Kevin-Prince Boateng, Christian Zapata and Mathieu Flamini were handed starts. Fiorentina surprisingly included Stevan Jovetic in the starting line-up after he picked up a thigh strain last weekend. The Montenegrin unfortunately did not last the full 45 minutes before limping off moments before half-time.

Milan looked unconvincing from the first to the last minute and were unable to impose themselves on the game. Concerning for Allegri will be that his players wasted a two goal lead and failed to control the game despite playing with a man advantage during the entire second period. As has become customary, Milan’s 4-3-3 effectively becomes a 4-5-1 on defence as the two wide front men tuck in and track back to deny the opposition space. Milan seemed content for the majority of the game to allow Fiorentina possession and attempt to catch them on the counter-attack. This is portrayed by the possession statistics in which La Viola dominated with 59% to Milan’s 41%.

The Rossoneri were however able to create a few chances particularly in the first half. Boateng’s volley early on found the back of the net but was ruled out for Mario Balotelli’s offside position in the build-up. Minutes later, Montolivo who was jeered with every touch of the ball, robbed David Pizarro of the ball deep in Fiorentina’s half and calmly finished past Emiliano Viviano. Montolivo was in the thick of the action, as later his well-taken set piece was powerfully headed on target by Stephan El Shaarawy. Viviano saved excellently though.

The first controversial moment of the match occurred just before the half-time break. Nenad Tomovic was adjudged to off used an elbow in obstructing El Shaarawy and was given a straight red card. Replays suggest the decision was harsh and the Fiorentina players were left fuming.

To Fiorentina’s credit they began the second half as if Milan were playing with ten men and La Viola controlled possession while dictating the pace of the game. It was the Rossoneri however who doubled the lead against the run of play. Flamini’s slight touch off a powerful Montolivo cross found its way into the back of the net. Fiorentina fought on and were handed a lifeline with the second controversial refereeing decision. Substitute Antonio Nocerino was penalised for bringing down Adem Ljajic in the box despite replays displaying no contact. Ljajic himself converted the penalty. Ten-man Viola then completed the comeback less than ten minutes later with a second penalty converted by Pizarro.

A draw ultimately was a fair reflection on a scrappy game of football. A total of eight cautions were branded in a stop start affair. Further moments of controversy blighted the game late on. Firstly Ignazio Abate was brought down by a shove in the box and then a glancing header from Giampoalo Pazzini struck Facundo Rocaglia’s hand in the box. Neither penalty claims were awarded.

Milan will require a vastly improved performance in their showdown with Napoli for second position next weekend.

Fiorentina vs AC Milan (2-2) First Half Serie A Highlights [07/04/13]

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Fiorentina vs AC Milan (2-2) Second Half Serie A Highlights [07/04/13]

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