Serie A - Ten-man Fiorentina fight back against Milan

Stadio Artemio Franchi, Serie A - Fiorentina 2 (Ljajic 66 pen, Pizarro 73 pen) AC Milan 2 (Montolivo 14, Flamini 62)

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Fiorentina players argue with the referee (Reuters)

Two second half penalties saw ten man Fiorentina fight back from 2-0 down to hold Milan 2-2 in a thrilling game in Serie A.

Milan opened the scoring when former Viola midfielder Riccardo Montolivo robbed David Pizarro of the ball, and slotted past Emiliano Viviano.

Fiorentina were harshly reduced to ten men when last man Nenad Tomovic was adjudged to have fouled Stephan El Shaarawy, and Milan extended their lead through Mathieu Flamini’s close-range effort.

But Adem Ljajic pulled one back from the spot after he was fouled, and Pizarro completed a superb comeback with Fiorentina’s second penalty, awarded for a trip on Juan Cuadrado.

The big news ahead of kick off was the choice to start striker Stevan Jovetic, who was expected to miss two weeks with a thigh strain. But the decision backfired as the Montenegrin star was forced to limp off before the break – one of several disasters to beset a Fiorentina side desperate to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Fiorentina started the brighter, but Pizarro’s dreadful error saw him gift possession to Montolivo 25 yards from goal, and the midfielder calmly slotted in the opener against his former side.

El Shaarawy could have doubled Milan’s lead when his header was saved well by Viviano, while Fiorentina, who also lost Stefan Savic to injury, struggled to create any clear cut chances.

But worse was to come for Viola, who were harshly reduced to ten men six minutes before the break. With El Shaarawy racing through on goal, he was eased off the ball by Tomovic, who used his arm to prevent El Shaarawy from getting ahead. But, as the last man, Tomovic was dismissed – much to Fiorentina’s rage.

It was a harsh decision, and one that dented Fiorentina’ chances of a second half fightback, particularly with Jovetic’s absence exposing just how much Viola rely on their top scorer.

Milan moved into a two-goal lead just after the hour when Montolivo fired in a low cross from the right and Flamini helped it into the bottom corner, with Milan seemingly out of sight.

But Fiorentina responded quickly, albeit in controversial circumstances. Ljajic’s mazy run saw him get into a shooting position but, under very light pressure from Antonio Nocerino, Ljajic hit the deck. The penalty was soft at best, but perhaps justice after Tomovic’s dismissal in the first half. Ljajic got up and fired the penalty down the middle, giving Viola renewed hope.

The goal took the wind out of Milan’s sails and, seven minutes later, Fiorentina were level. Cuadrado skipped past De Sciglio, who upended the midfielder, and Pizarro atoned for his early error by levelling from the spot.

It was a stunning end to an absorbing contest, which could have seen Milan themselves awarded a late penalty when Ignazio Abate went down under Manuel Pasqual’s challenge – but nothing was given.

The point keeps Fiorentina two points clear of fifth-placed Inter Milan in the race for Champions League football. Milan stay third.

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