Juventus are now six points behind leaders Milan after Fiorentina entertained them to a 1-1 draw in Turin. It took a late goal from Simone Pepe to salvage a point for the Bianconeri after Marco Motta had conceded an own goal early on.
Fiorentina started the game brightly and went ahead in the third minute when Gaetano D’Agostino’s free-kick was headed clear to the left hand side. The ball fell to Juan Manual Vargas’s and his stinging left-footed cross struck the head of full-back Motta and flew into the back of the net.
It was just the start Sinisa Mihajlovic was hoping for as his side battle in vain to secure what is looking like an unlikely European place. Juvuntus however began to get a foot hold in the game and chances for Milos Krasnic and Leandro Bonucci threatened to ruin La Viola’s good work.
Artur Boruc had his finger tips warmed up by Claudio Marchisio when he meet Motta’s cross with a first time drive. The Polish international was more than up to the task and produced a comfortable catch.
The home side should have leveled with 27 minutes on the clock when Felipe Melo’s shot ricochet off a Viola defender and fell favorably into the path of Alessandro Del Piero. The 36 year old blazed his shot high over the goal when it seemed easier to score.
Boruc was again up to the onslaught that was coming his way when he brilliantly denied Del Piero. Sebastian Frey’s stand in punched away his effort.
As the half came to a close Marchisio was guilty of a bad miss when he stabbed wide from just 6 yards out, much to the fans disbelief.
At the start of the second half Juvuntus began the way they finished the first 45 and pilled the pressure on the Fiorentina back line. Michele Camporese was having a fine game in what was only his second appearance for the Tuscans.
However, the evergreen Del Piero was threatening to equalise but he clearly left his shooting boots at home. The maestro beat the offside trap but dragged his shot wide of the mark.
Viola winger Mario Santana came agonizingly close to given Mihajlovic’s team a 2-0 lead but could not keep his shot down from just inside the box. Alessandro Gamberini almost scored the game’s second own goal when Klasnic’s shot deflected off him but landed in the hands of Boruc, much to his relief.
Peruvian international Vargas went on a tantalizing run towards the Bianconeri goal but was unable to get the better of Leanardo Bonucci. That was about as good as it got for La Viola as Juvuntus reloaded the gun and fired wave after wave of attack. Substitute Vincenzo Iaquinta saw his effort saved by the awesome Boruc and then the former Celtic man denied Giorgio Chiellini.
Nonetheless the inevitable happened when another substitute Pepe stepped home and smashed home a swashbuckling free kick with just eight minutes remaining.
Fiorentina held on to the point and former Inter hardman Sinisa Mihajlovic had mixed emotions after the result with their bitter rivals; ““We didn’t close the game out intelligently.
“Overall I think a draw was a fair result given the course of the game.In the last few matches we haven’t been rewarded as much as we deserve given the level of performances.”
Mihajlovic however will be dejected about another injury to his squad. Alberto Gilardino came off injured and the club released a statement exclaiming that the Viola top scorer will be missing for up to three weeks. Damaging news for all concerned considering Fiorentina’s languishing league position.
However league attentions turn to the Coppa Italia when Reggina come to the Stadio Artemi Franchi on Wednesday night. Expect to see Alessio Cerci and Khouma Babacar starting in attack roles as Mihajlovic is expected to rest some of his first teamers. Who can blame the Yugoslav considering the injuries the squad has had this season?
La Viola will be expected to win and progress but you get the disgruntled feeling amongst the fans this competition is not top of the Christmas wish list. Nevertheless it welcomes the chance for the team to focus their efforts elsewhere as the season is closely drawing to the seasonal break.
Mihajlovic will welcome the rest with opening arms as it gives his time the chance to replenish their pre-season hopes and finish the season strongly with a European place.