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Fiorentina 1-0 Atalanta: Match report and highlights

Vincezo Italiano moved Giacomo Bonaventura into central midfield to form a very technical engine room. Nico González returned to the starting lineup opposite Christian Kouamé, with Fabiano Parisi getting a rare chance as well. Atalanta was coached by Tullio Gritti as Gian Piero Gasperini watched from the stands after being sent off in the last round, much to the delight of the Artemio Franchi crowd, which serenaded one of its favorite antagonists remorselessly.
Giancarlo Antognoni got a nice little display from the fans, too, for his 70th birthday. First half
The match started pretty scrappily (Atalanta committed 8 fouls in the first 18 minutes) with Fiorentina slightly pinned back, but the hosts improved after the first 10 minutes and slowly grew into dominance, although it took a little while for that to translate into chances. They finally started to arrive, though, as Nico and Lucas Beltrán had looks from a goalmouth scramble from a corner as the Viola turned the screws, with only a bad Michael Kayode mistake giving the visitors a chance. The goal came from a simply outrageous (deflected???) Rolando Mandragora strike. You won’t see a better hit this week. Fiorentina kept the energy up and made sure that Atalanta simply couldn’t venture out of its own half as the Viola forwards pressed fantastically and the defense shut down everything. Indeed, the only time la Dea managed a spell of possession in Fiorentina’s half, it ended with Kouamé feeding Nico on the break to turn Šead Kolašinać inside out before shooting wide. The halftime whistle couldn’t come soon enough for the visitors, who looked flummoxed by the energy from the boys in purple.
Second half
Atalanta brought on Gianluca Scamacca and Ederson at the break and, as expected, started out hot. Pietro Terracciano made his first save of the game a good one, stopping Isaac Hien’s effort off a corner, and la Dea backed the Viola into their own box for about 10 minutes. Fiorentina weathered the storm admirably and responded, coming so close to taking the lead off a magnificent González header that Marco Carnesecchi somehow tipped wide with what may well be the save of the season. The hosts didn’t let up and Carnesecchi denied Nico again moments later, with Mitchell Bakker missing wide after la Dea worked an overload well. Despite that hiccup, it felt like Fiorentina was in control and the second goal was incoming, especially after Andrea Belotti and Luca Ranieri came close. The Viola sat deep and soaked up pressure pretty well, with Scamacca forcing another decent save from Terracciano, but the match devolved into a stop-start affair with a lot of fouls, including one that probably should’ve been a red card for Scamacca late on, but Fiorentina managed the end game well and deserved the win.
Stats Full time
Goals: Mandragora 31’ (ass. González)
Cards: Mandragora 55’, Kouamé 81’; Miranchuk 29’, de Roon 78’, Scamacca 89’
What’s next
The return leg isn’t for another 3 weeks, so both sides have a lot of time to think about this one. For the record, Gasperini’s suspended for that one too. More immediately for the Viola, however, is a trip up to Turin on Sunday and an opportunity to get some revenge for a loss earlier this year in the league and maybe strike some doubt into the Juvenuts’ hearts if these two meet in the Coppa Italia final, as the current results suggest they will.
It’s back on the road right away with a trip to Viktoria Plzen for the Conference League quarterfinal; it’s games twice a week from here on out, with that postponed tie against Atalanta looming as well. If, like we saw last year, Italiano can get these guys on a roll through the back end of the season, that could help generate a lot of momentum and see Fiorentina break through to win its first major trophy since 2001. It’s going to be tense.

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