STADIO ENNIO TARDINI (PARMA) – Fiorentina’s winless run grew to 18 games on Sunday evening as a phenomenal late surge from Atalanta saw them turn a two-goal deficit into a 2-2 draw in the final ten minutes in Parma.
Federico Chiesa was a thorn in Atalanta’s side throughout, opening the scoring and then registering damning assist as Franck Ribery sublimely doubled their lead in the second half, but Alejandro Papu Gomez and Josip Ilicic’s arrivals in the second half turned the game on its head.
La Viola took the lead midway through the first 45 and it was Chiesa who, granting Vincenzo Montella’s wishes this week, ended his goalscoring curse by netting for the first time since March. A loose ball fell his way on the edge of the box and his relative tame volley took a wicked deflection off Jose Luis Palomino and found its way into Pierluigi Gollini’s bottom corner.
Atalanta should have levelled immediately. Fiorentina’s defence were caught sleeping and Duvan Zapata capitalised by going one on one with Bartlomiej Dragowski but he rushed his effort and it dragged well wide.
Then came Serie A’s latest incident of alleged racism. Dalbert complained to referee Daniele Orsato that he was being racially abused by the Atalanta curva, prompting a stop in the action as the officials organised for an announcement to be made.
That announcement was met with widespread condemnation and contempt from the Bergamaschi, who whistled in return.
But Chiesa then became the target for the hosts’ disdain, as he was deemed to go to ground easily – as he did to win a penalty a year ago – which turned the heat up a few notches. That increase transferred onto the pitch and the tension was noticeable as tackles flew in and things looked edgy.
Luis Muriel had a chance, but he drove a powerful effort off the upright and behind.
Gian Piero Gasperini made changes in the second half, with both Papu Gomez and Josip Ilicic coming on, which did see them put more pressure on.
But Chiesa managed to break on the right 20 minutes into the half, exposing Palomino again. He whipped a deep cross in that found Franck Ribery and the Frenchman connected with a well-controlled low volley as he slid to meet it to double the margin.
Pressure continued to mount on Fiorentina’s defence and Atalanta were probing, but they were never able to carve out any real clear-cut opportuninities until, in the 84th minute, Gomez did wonderfully well to find Ilicic at the back post, allowing him to chest and volley beyond Dragowski.
Atalanta looked to have completed another remarkable comeback in stoppage time when Mario Pasalic converted a Marten de Roon knockdown from a Papu Gomez cross. VAR, though, showed that the Dutchman’s hand had been responsible for the touch.
But nothing was to stop the comeback machine that is Gasperini’s Atalanta. They won a corner moments later and as the ball was cleared to the edge of the area, Timothy Castagne was on hand to volley back into Dragowski’s bottom corner.