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February 15, 2014
• Stadio Artemio Franchi, Firenze
Referee: A. Damato
• Attendance: 35584
J. Cuadrado 47'
R. Palacio 34'
M. Icardi 65'
That's my cue, it's been a pleasure.
Inter couldn't buy an away win for love or for money, but pick up a massive in here that puts them back in with outside contention for a Champions League place. At the very least, the Europa League looks a good bet, and they close the gap to five points on Fiorentina, who were well below their best today.
90' + 5'
90' + 4'
CHANCE AT THE DEATH! Matri brings down another high ball well, and comes within inches of picking out Gomez at the far post who, had he connected with that, would have surely scored!
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Alessandro Matri
90' + 3'
Tame ending to the match here as Fiorentina's desperate attempts to pump the ball into the box are falling flat. Inter are taking care of business defensively.
90' + 1'
We're into the first of four added minutes to see out this game.
The ball is aimed in for Matri and he takes it down well, but just when he looked like slashing in a shot on the turn, he instead attempts to square to Gomez, which instead sees the pass intercepted again.
Gomez pulls away down the right but with Ilicic peeling into space on the opposite side, he under-cooks his pass and sees it intercepted by Samuel. That was a decent opening.
Last sub of the game sees Nagotomo subbed off for D'Ambrosio. Not long now for Inter to hold out.
Some dangerous corners coming in from Fiorentina, but one mishit delivery nearly turns into an inter counter, as Icardi comes within inches of squeezing a cross through to the unmarked Palacio, but Tomovic was in the way to make a vital interception!
Matri invents a flick at the near post from a corner and Ilicic, charging in on the blind side down the far post, just misses contact! Samuel is also booked for illegally tussling with Gomez BEFORE the corner was taken - and Inter narrowly avoid a penalty call.
Yellow Card Walter Samuel
Off goes the Colombian and on comes Matri. The Juventus loanee was a lock to come on at some point, but perhaps the likes of Aquilani would have been sacrificed instead had Cuadrado not gotten injured.
Cuadrado has pulled up after a challenge here clutching the back of his left leg. It looks like his calf, and it's debatable whether Montella will want to risk him any longer. He's receiving on-pitch treatment at the moment.
Palacio gets free down the left again and cuts back into the six yard box, but Diakite clears well at the near post.
No signs yet of how Fiorentina will get back into this game. inter have down a masterful job of holding onto the ball since taking the lead for the second time, and have in fact created a few half chances since then.
Palacio clips a dangerous lofted pass across the face of goal, but Icardi, lining up at the far post, just has the shot taken off him by the intervention of Rodriguez. Important defensive intervention.
Yellow Card Rodrigo Palacio
Another sub coming up, and it's a smart one from Mazzarri. Guarin has been walking a bit of a tightrope since getting booked, as his prickly reactions have threatened to boil over into a second yellow card. On comes Taider in his place.
Cometh the hour? Off goes Joaquin and on comes Gomez, for his first appearance since the 15th of September. It's been a frustrating beginning to life in Florence for him, but he has a chance to make a smashing impact on his return as his team is in need.
He's yet to start a game in the league, but Icardi now has three Serie A goals to his name this season. Make no mistake, this is a big one he's gotten here - a nifty habit that he's developing after scoring against Juventus earlier in the season.
Assist Yuto Nagatomo
Goal Mauro Icardi
With just about his first touch, the substitute has silenced the Artemio Franchi! An early cross from Nagatomo at the perfect height sees Icardi steal ahead of his marker and stab home a lovely finish!
ICARDI SCORES! INTER UP AGAIN!
Deep cross from Vargas is met by a very important header from Samuel, as a queue of Fiorentina players wanted to attack that! Meanwhile, Gomez and Matri complete their warmups on the side and may be introduced shortly.
A great throw out from Neto sees Cuadrado released down the left and he is brought down late by Guarin. The Inter man sees yellow, and aims a push at Aquilani, which sees the yellow card come out a second time, but bizarrely to Aquilani, who was not the instigator. A brief coming together as Cuadrado gets himself involved again.
Yellow Card Alberto Aquilani
Yellow Card F. Guarín
Ilicic has to settle down a little bit, as he wastes a great dribble that takes him past Samuel by hammering an ambitious shot high into the stands. Poor in the end.
The substitute nearly makes an instant impact with a dangerous run off the ball through the centre that, had Palacio brought a bouncing pass under control quickly enough, would have surely seen him put through on goal.
Milito has been a little quiet since that one early chance in the first half, and departs for Icardi as Mazzarri senses that his side need some freshening up in attack.
Fernandez slips in Joaquin, who made a great diagonal run down the left channel, but with a step on the defender, he tries to poke in a cross towards goal with the outside of his boot, and instead bobbles it through to the keeper.
Inter have an opening to hit back right away as Palacio is freed down the troublesome right side of the Fiorentina defence, but he waits too long to bring the ball down, and the angle evaporates in front of him.
A drilled low cross from the goalscorer Cuadrado is nearly lapped up at the far post by Joaquin and Ilicic, as Handanovic misses his cue once again, allowing that delivery to get through!
Assist Mati Fernández
Goal Juan Cuadrado
Handanovic did not cover himself in glory there. There was a crowd of bodies at the top of the box, but you would have still expected Cuadrado's curler from that position to be saveable. But the keeper dived late, and the Colombian's effort nestles home!
FIORENTINA ARE LEVEL!
Here we go again!
Rather flat and uninspired from the home side, who can have no complaints about trailing at the break. Inter have created the better chances, and Mazzarri and his boy are one half away from a vital win for their hopes of European football.
45' + 2'
Our one allotted minute is up and we're at the break.
45' + 1'
VARGAS! Right at the end of the half, from the tightest of angles, the Peruvian tests Handanovic with a half volley on the turn from Ilicic's searching ball!
Stupid yellow card given away by Rolando there. Rodriguez had dribble upfield with the ball and was clearly not going anywhere in a hurry. But Inter's centre back still felt the need to trip him up in plain view of the match official, and was booked straight away.
Yellow Card Rolando
Well Montella has his work cut out at half time, as his side have largely been second best here. Hardly the encore that one might have expected following their morale-boosting win over Udinese midweek.
...but it's another disappointing end to the move, as the midfielder clips it right onto the head of an Inter player. The veteran Chilean is another playing against his former club tonight.
Promising set piece situation for the Viola here, as Pizarro stands over the ball...
Good, intelligent play from Samuel to play in front of Rodriguez while defending a free kick, and angle for - and win - the foul against his opposite defender.
Well, an Inter striker had previously not scored in a game since Christmas, but the Nerazzurri deservedly have the lead here in Florence on the basis of chances created. Will that open things up?
Assist F. Guarín
Goal Rodrigo Palacio
PALACIO BREAKS THE DEADLOCK! An excellent goal from Inter, as Guarin slips in a perfect reverse pass that leaves the defence dumbfounded and looking for offside calls on the wrong players. Palacio takes it on his chest and with his next touch smashes it past Neto!
And again for Fiorentina! Compper attacks the box late on a Fiorentina break, and takes Pizarro's pass in stride to test Handanovic from the edge of the area! Good positioning from the keeper to stop that shot.
More shooting opportunities are briefly starting to open up in the game. Aquilani is the next to have a go on goal, teed into space by Cuadrado, but his effort is blocked by Nagatomo, of all people.
Another good chance for Milito who, with the angle diminishing on the right, latches onto Guarin's through pass and lashes a shot at goal, but it only serves to ripple the side netting.
Vargas indeed gets an opportunity to have a shot on goal, though its through a dead ball set up rather than an open play attack down the left. Still, Ilicic lays the ball off to him in a decent position about 25 yards from goal. but he hammers it high and wide.
Have to say that Jonathan has looked a little vulnerable whenever Vargas has squared up to him on the left flank. Fiorentina may benefit from overloading on that side as the likes of Joaquin could provide more support.
Some fouls break up possession and play for a few moments, as both Compper and Vargas are victims of careless challenges. The referee has to be alert here as it's getting scrappy.
Fiorentina beginning to see a bit more of the ball in the opposition half, and are making the opposition chase the game. It's not very ambitious stuff though, as they've barely been able to get the likes of Cuadrado on the ball.
The possession dominance from the visitors is beginning to pay dividends as Milito is played into space for a shot inside the box, and he manages to test Neto! Right after that, Jonathan is booked for taking out Pizarro.
Yellow Card Jonathan
PALACIO HITS THE POST! An excellent counter from Inter sees the Argentine slipped down the right side of the last defender, and he flashes a low finish that bounces off the woodwork! He hasn't scored in six games since hitting the winner against Milan, but he was close to breaking his streak there!
Disappointing in the end from Ilicic, who after a long buildup, bobbles a dasiy-cutter right into the arms of Handanovic.
Cuadrado is the next Fiorentina player to be fouled, and it's greeted with some real venom from the home crowd. Decent chance this for the hosts to get the ball into the box, and Ilicic is presiding over this dead ball.
Samuel is very lucky to avoid picking up a booking for barging right into the back of Joaquin - in plain sight of the match official. The referee decides to let the incident slide, but he had a few stern words for Samuel, who may have just received his final warning.
The fans are making a real go of it in the stands though, despite Fiorentina seeing far less of the ball. They're content to let Inter have all the possession at the moment, but as of yet, there's not been too much counter attacking threat from the Viola.
Josep Ilicic sees a narrow shot blocked from just outside the area. It does little to change the viewpoint that this is a fairly cautious start to the game from both sides.
Oh dear, Neto nearly screws up in royal fashion, exhibiting terrible hesitation on a back pass that allowed Palacio to put a fright in him by sliding in to tackle the ball! He is a relieved man to see it eventually roll wide of the post, to audible gasps from the home crowd.
Here we go!
Inter are also the second most prolific side in the league away from home, scoring 22 goals in 11 games - only one strike behind Juventus' leading tally of 23. And Vincenzo Montella will doubtless be going for the win here given what's at stake, so expect a few goals in this one - especially with the likes of Cuadrado in such fine form.
The Viola can move into that coveted third and final Champions League place with a win here tonight, as three points will take them level with Napoli - who nonetheless will have a game in hand. But the omens are not in their favour, as in their past 17 meetings against Inter, they've only managed to emerge with a victory once.
Inter simply must win tonight to rescue any faint ambitions of Champions League football next season. The Nerazzurri are eight points behind Fiorentina, and have really been in dismal form in the new year. They've lost five away games on the trot, and a narrow 1-0 win over 19th placed Sassuolo last weekend was their first competitive win for the whole of 2014.
The Viola of course qualified for the Coppa Italia final after dispatching Udinese midweek, and will square off against Rafa Benitez's Napoli side in the showpiece. Two excellent goals from Manuel Pasqual and Juan Cuadrado did the damage against the Zebrette, and confidence is high at the Artemio Franchi.
Inter also have Esteban Cambiasso available for selection again, but their veteran Argentine schemer must settle for a place on the bench. Zdravko Kuzmanovic mans the midfield for the visitors against his former club, sitting behind Hernanes, who will tuck in just behind an Argentine front two of Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio.
The suspended Borja Valero is missing alongside Massimo Ambosini, Giuseppe Rossi, Stefan Savic and Ante Rebic - the quartet all out with various injuries. Juve loanee Alessandro Matri, disappointing against Udinese in the Coppa Italia midweek, is swapped out for Josip Ilicic, who looks to be playing just ahead of Joaquin.
A lot of the pre match focus for the Viola was on the potential return of Mario Gomez from injury. The German striker does make the matchday squad, but he begins on the bench as he bids to make his first appearance since knee ligament surgery in September.
Inter bench: Carrizo, Castellazzi, Zanetti, Andreolli, Campagnaro, Ranocchia, D'Ambrosio, Botta, Taider, Mudingay, Cambiasso, Icardi.
Inter: Handanovic; Rolando, Samuel, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Hernanes, Nagatomo; Palacio, Milito.
Fiorentina bench: Rosati, Lupatelli, Tomovic, Roncaglia, Pasqual, Bakic, Anderson, Matos, Wolski, Matri, Gomez.
Fiorentina: Neto; Diakite, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Compper; Cuadrado, Mati Fernandez, Pizarro, Aquilani, Vargas; Ilicic, Joaquin.
Welcome to another enticing round of Serie A action, where fourth place Fiorentina face off against Inter in Florence. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your designated scribe for all the action.
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