Milan came back to winning ways in Serie A after more than one month as a penalty kick by Theo Hernandez was enough to have the upper hand against Fiorentina on Saturday night. The Rossoneri desperately needed a convincing performance to get out of their negative streak but had to suffer until the end to take all three points on offer.
Fiorentina ultimately paid for their ineffectiveness upfront as perhaps Italiano and his boys would have deserved a bit more out of tonight’s match at the San Siro. For the Viola, this is the fourth loss in the last five league games.
With Olivier Giroud, Rafael Leao, and Noah Okafor all unavailable, Stefano Pioli didn’t have many choices upfront, so much that he had to call up 15-year-old academy prodigy Francesco Camarda. Ex-Fiorentina player Luka Jovic got a chance as a starter in the center forward position, supported by Samu Chukwueze and Christian Pulisic on the two flanks.
Vincenzo Italiano answered with a 4-2-3-1 setup where Lucas Beltran was the central striker with Nico Gonzales, the former Milan man Giacomo Bonaventura and Riccardo Sottil behind him.
The match was off to a slow start, and it took 22 minutes to see the first shot on target, which came from a Pulisic initiative. Captain America pounced on the ball and whipped it towards Pietro Terracciano from outside the box but found the Fiorentina goalie ready to deflect it in corner.
Milan gained courage and attacked for the rest of the first period. Tijnani Reijnders came up with a great pass on the right flank for Davide Calabria, but the Rossoneri captain decided to go for a weak shot that gave no problems to Terracciano rather than serving Jovic in the middle of the box.
When Calabria did try to cross on 43 minutes, Cristiano Biraghi risked deflecting the ball into his own net, but Terracciano was well alert. The Fiorentina shot-stopper saved the day again right after that with a superb intervention to defuse Tommaso Pobega’s header.
Right before the break, Milan finally broke the stalemate. Jovic’s intuition forced Fabiano Parisi into fouling Theo Hernandez in the box, prompting a crystal-clear penalty for the Rossoneri. The Frenchman’s spot-kick conversion was perfect and sent Milan to the break on a 1-0 lead.
On 49 minutes, Mike Maignan was finally called to action by Fiorentina. His timely exit blocked Beltran’s counterattack, even though the Argentine was already struggling to control the ball. The Viola got more courageous after the restart, and Milan started to struggle defensively. Nico Gonzales was the most dangerous on Italiano’s side but was wasteful on a couple of chances.
A header from Chukwueze switched the momentum back in the Rossoneri’s favor but his conclusion was central and was easily neutralized by Terracciano.
Milan could have made it two a few minutes later as Jovic was picked by Theo Hernandez in the middle of the box. However, the Serbian failed to hit the mark against his former team as he fired the ball right into the Viola goalie.
Fiorentina were left fuming as a shot from Sottil hit Ruben Loftus Cheek’s arm, but the VAR disallowed their penalty claims as the Englishman’s arm was deemed to be close to his body.
Italiano and his boys kept pushing until the end and came close to drawing level twice during stoppage time. First, Maxime Lopez concluded an extended assault to the Rossoneri’s box with a shot that sailed not far from Maignan’s goal.
Then, it was once again the French gardien de but to keep his side afloat as he saved with his head (!) from a point-blank range conclusion by substitute Rolando Mandragora.
Stefano Pioli could breathe a sigh of relief as he also took the chance to make history, sending in the young Camarda with seven minutes to go. Camarda thus became the youngest player to have ever played in a Serie A match.
November 25, 2023 – Serie A 2021-2022 Round 13
MILAN – FIORENTINA 1-0
SCORERS: 45+3′ Hernandez
|MILAN (4-3-3): Maignan; Calabria (92′ Florenzi), Thiaw, Tomori, Hernández; Musah (83’ Krunic), Reijnders, Pobega; Chukwueze, Jović (84’ Camarda), Pulisic (60’ Loftus-Cheek) (Mirante, Nava; Bartesaghi, Simić; Adli, Romero; Traorè) Coach: Pioli
|FIORENTINA (4-2-3-1): Terracciano; Parisi, Martínez Quarta, Milenković, Biraghi; Arthur (46’ Maxime Lopez), Duncan (81’ Mandragora); González, Bonaventura (88’ Kouame), Sottil (81’ Ikone); Beltrán (70’ Nzola) (Christensen, Martinelli; Comuzzo, Mina, Pierozzi; Amatucci, Barák, Infantino; Brekalo) Coach: Italiano
REFEREE: Mr. Di Bello from Brindisi
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Tomori, Pioli (M), Arthur, Parisi (F); Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 7′