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Italy - Serie A
March 26, 2014
• Stadio Artemio Franchi, Firenze
Referee: D. Orsato
• Attendance: 32280
P. Mexès 23'
M. Balotelli 64'
90' + 3'
FULL-TIME: Fiorentina 0-2 AC Milan
90' + 2'
Milan will record their first win since the end of February tonight, and it has been a solid performance from Clarence Seedorf's side. Fiorentina have just not had the rub of the green this evening. Distinctly second best.
90' + 1'
We're into the first of three minutes added on at the end of the second half
SUBSTITUTION - AC Milan: Mario Balotelli is replaced by Cristian Zaccardo.
YELLOW CARD - Gonzalo Rodriguez. And we have hit double figures in the game. Rodriguez is the 10th man in the book this evening, and he will miss Fiorentina's next match.
Yellow Card Gonzalo Rodríguez
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
That's now seven of Milan's starting eleven who have been booked. For Mexes, you would have thought he would be among the first! A testament to his composure tonight, but suffered a lapse there.
YELLOW CARD - Philippe Mexes: We're close to a full house of Milan players who've been booked. Matos is upended by the defender after a fine one-two with Ambrosini.
Fiorentina are camped outside the Milan penalty box with Roncaglia on the ball. Picks out Fernandez, who lofts the ball into the box. Well headed away by Mexes, who has been very solid this evening.
Over in Catania, the hosts have pulled the score back to 2-4, but with seven minutes remaining there, it looks as if Napoli's first half performance will have bagged them a crucial three points to put further daylight between them and Fiorentina.
Matias Fernandez drifts a free-kick in, headed away by Mexes, and Muntari breaks free and embarks on a counter. De Jong comes from deep to get into the box, but he strikes over!
We're into the final ten minutes at Stadio Artemio Franchi, and Milan look good value for their lead. They've done just enough to see this out, one would imagine.
SUBSTITUTION - Fiorentina: Joaquin is replaced by Ryder Matos. Meanwhile, Daniele Bonera is booked by the referee.
Yellow Card Daniele Bonera
SUBSTITUTION - AC Milan: Adel Taarabt is replaced by Valter Birsa.
Cuadrado has an effort from distance, as he turns in the defender and strikes well wide. Poor effort from the Colombia winger, who then has a furious Mexes to deal with.
Mario Balotelli has a pop from distance, and a very far one at that. Easy save for Neto, who nevertheless, is required to pat the ball down to claim it.
Cuadrado has been rather ineffective on the wide front for his side this evening, as he is reprimanded for a strong challenge on a Milan player.
Fiorentina just haven't offered a threat to a superior Rossoneri side this evening. They have less than 20 minutes to try and rescue this, as their hope of snatching third looking to have ended.
Yellow Card Christian Abbiati
Taarabt engineers a counter attack, and links up with Kaka who drives forward. Fiorentina track back in numbers, but de Jong is eventually caught out as possession is reclaimed.
Fiorentina win a corner on the far side. Delivered in by Valero, towards the six yard box, and it is cleared behind by Constant. Another delivery, but that is just as unsuccessful.
Yellow Card Adel Taarabt
YELLOW CARD - Adel Taarabt: The Moroccan winger becomes the sixth man in the book as the cards begin to tot up.
Milan without a win in the last four and a half weeks, and this would be just their third win since the end of January, providing it stays this way.
Milan 2-0 up, and it's been an easy road. Again handed on a plate by the Viola, whose wall was not constructed adequately, and the simplicity in which Roncaglia conceded the set-piece. Shooting themselves in the foot.
Goal Mario Balotelli
GOAL!! Fiorentina 0-2 Milan - BALOTELLI!! Well, the position of the free-kick said it all. Big target, and Balotelli strikes it into the top corner and beyond Neto. A sumtpuous free-kick, and Milan double their lead.
YELLOW CARD - Roncaglia. The substitute is booked for a rash challenge, and has conceded a free-kick in a superb position - centrally, and about 25 metres out. Balotelli or Honda?
Yellow Card Facundo Roncaglia
Free-kick to Fiorentina. Delivered in deep and helped on by Joaquin, but the move is scuppered by the offside flag. The Viola are attempting to push further up the field in search of the equaliser.
BORJA VALERO! Just over the bar. Unlucky from the midfielder, who takes a touch to open up a bit of space, but the power was simply too much.
Free-kick: Mario Balotelli attempts to hold off and swing past his marker, but the ball comes off his hand in doing so, as the referee reprimands him for that. Balotelli responds with a wry smile.
Kaka, who has been very much a peripheral figure in this encounter, attempts to drive at the Fiorentina midfield, but he is eventually marked out efficiently, as possession changes hands.
Elsewhere in Serie A tonight; Napoli stormed into a 4-0 lead over Catania, who pulled one back moments ago. Juventus' two goal lead v Parma has been halved, the latest score 2-1.
Matri makes a good run, but fails to centre the ball into the middle. Had a bit of time, but couldn't shake off Constant, before stumbling out of play. Lacking that creative spark.
Yellow Card Kevin Constant
YELLOW CARD - Kevin Constant is booked by the referee after bringing down Cuadrado.
Wonderful run from Balotelli who shakes off Savic as he makes an entry into the penalty box and drills in a low cross towards the centre. Taarabt gets on the other end of it, but blazes over.
And again! Valero's cross causes a bit of trouble in the Milan box, and it comes off a Fiorentina player just near the post, and cleared by the visitors.
MATRI!! Just wide. AC Milan's sluggish start unpunished! Rami absolutely nowhere in the box, as a threatening cross is met by the head of Matri, but he hits it just wide. Unlucky.
A sluggish start from the Rossoneri as Muntari wastes possession in the early stages. Milan have been the better side in the first half, but you feel as if it was handed to them on a plate. Fiorentina the masters in their own undoing.
Underway in the second half! Milan get us going, and they are attacking from right to left.
The sides are out for the second half, but there has been activity from the substitutes. No changes at half-time, but we could be seeing a change in the not too distant future.
HT: FIO 0-1 ACM - Mexes' goal separates both sides in what has been a very physical first 45 minutes. Cards, free-kicks, fouls aplenty. But Clarence Seedorf's men are narrowly in front.
45' + 1'
HALF-TIME: Fiorentina 0-1 AC Milan
One minute added on at the end of the first half at Artemio Franchi.
Ambrosini is another one, as he upends Taarabt. Referee awards a free-kick, but no booking. Mexes recognises the situation, with his former team-mate already on a booking, and attempts to sway the decision, much to the chagrin of Ambrosini!
Yellow Card Nigel De Jong
Balotelli has to be careful, as he escapes another high foot situation. Already on a booking, the crowd are baying for his dismissal.
MUNTARI! Blazed over. Milan go for the jugular once more, as a fine ball sees Honda become unsuccessful with a stinging low effort. Muntari arrives on the follow-up, but he scythes it over the bar. Had time to take a touch.
Montella will be disappointed with his side's performance in the first half. An offside call scuppers a promising move as a frustrated Valero lambasts his team-mates.
Corner to Milan. Thunderous delivery from Kaka, who blasts it towards the back post where Honda is located. He is beaten to it by Borja Valero, as the visitors win a second chance.
Elsewhere in Serie A, it is Juventus 2-0 Parma, and Catania 0-2 Napoli. Both are current scores, as we approach the interval in tonight's Serie A programme.
Another corner. Delivered in well by Joaquin, headed back towards Savic, before another cross almost catches out the Milanese defence. Valero latches onto the loose ball outside the area, but spoons it wide towards Joaquin, who cannot make use of it.
Fiorentina have won a corner on the other side. Joaquin with the outswinger, aiming for Rodriguez, but Mexes deflects it over his own crossbar. Another delivery from the Spaniard.
Taarabt shows exquisite control to hold off Ambrosini and run around the midfielder. Delivers in a beautiful cross with his right foot, headed away by Gonzalo Rodriguez, but Muntari opts for the rebound strike. Blocked.
Free-kick Fiorentina after Keisuke Honda blatantly barges over Valero. And the free-kick is simply blasted out of play, bringing with it jeers from the home crowd.
Half-chance for Fiorentina as a cross from Cuadrado is helped behind. Tomovic pops up, getting around the back to drill in a low cross unmarked. Spilled by Abbiati, but Muntari gets it away.
BALOTELLI! What a strike, and a bit of a bend on that as Neto is sent sprawling to tip that over the bar. Muntari with a fine pass to pick out his team-mate, but a weak clearance from Tomovic invites the chance.
High boot from Mario Balotelli, who is on a yellow, but Gonzalo Rodriguez goes down as if to imply that the boot of the striker caught him. The referee, somewhat fortunately, doesn't see it.
Seedorf's side opening up the visitors, as Taarabt and Kaka again push the visitors forward. Unable to make much of an impact once again. The Viola get it away, but Bonera chases the ball down well.
Milan now on the front foot, using a bit of confidence to drive at the opposition. Kaka combines with Taarabt, who is the principal force in this attack, but the final ball well cleared by Tomovic.
A goal from out of the blue for the visitors, especially after a period of domination for Montella's men. What can the hosts now conjure up as they look to issue a response.
Goal Philippe Mexes
GOAL!! Fiorentina 0-1 Milan - MEXES!! The French defender opens the scoring with a nice finish. Third time lucky for Milan as the goalkeeper spills a promising Balotelli free-kick, and it is roundly swept up by the defender!
Milan now beginning to see the ball in the opposition half, but they are pegged back with a rash challenge from Gonzalo Rodriguez as the referee awards another set-piece. Third for the visitors, what can tehy make from it?
Yellow Card Massimo Ambrosini
It's been a very physical opening 20 minutes at Artemio Franchi, as Montella's men concede yet another free-kick. It's in a dangerous vicinity, located about 30 yards from Neto's goal. Balotelli over it.
SUBSTITUTION - Fiorentina: Manuel Pasquel has been replaced by Facundo Roncaglia.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli is furious again with the referee, after being thwarted by the whistle, and he is subsequently on the receiving end of a booking. Fiorentina break, through Valero on the left but an in injury forces the hosts into an early change.
Lovely inter-play between Cuadrado and Fernandez on the far side, as the latter attempts to race into the penalty box. He is thwarted by a static Philippe Mexes, who stands his ground with a perfect tackle, as Milan bring the ball away.
Daniele Orsato, tonight's referee, has been a bit whistle-happy, in the opening stages. Another set-piece awarded, this time for an innocuous challenge. But Fiorentina waste the resultant free-kick. Not much in these challenges.
Honda discusses the free-kick opportunity with Balotelli, but the Japan international opts to take it. Right-footed, with power, but it strikes the wall and cleared accordingly.
Much of the play had been situated in the Milan half, but the Rossoneri bring the ball away with a quick-fire counter attack. From the right, Honda finds Balotelli, who is brought down by Nenad Tomovic. The referee awards a free-kick
Boos as the referee fails to award a free-kick on the edge of the area for a foul on Tomovic. Milan bring the ball away with ease, but the hosts are incensed.
Milan struggling to resist the opposition. Matias Fernandez races forward to supplement the attack through the right side. Towards Matri once again, but he is unsuccessful.
The Artemio Franchi is not upto full capacity, far from it. A rather muted atmosphere inside the stadium. But then again, it is a Wednesday evening!
All the hosts at the minute, as the Viola begin another wave of attacks on the Milan goal. Cross delivered in from Cuadrado on the right, helped on by a header from Matri, but it flies wide of Abbiati's goal.
Lovely movement from the hosts as Cuadrado combines with the on-rushing Valero. Muntari attempts to see the ball back away to Christian Abbiati, who makes a hash of it, as the Viola win a corner.
Rami forced to hoof the ball away under pressure from Matri, as Constant restarts the play after the ball goes out for a throw-in. The visitors looking to consolidate possession at the moment.
Free-kick conceded by Milan. Adel Taarabt goes in late and sends Nenad Tomovic flying on the far side. The ex-Fulham man has had a decent run of form since joining from London. He'll be hoping to make the difference tonight.
Fiorentina have started the match gingerly, looking to out-possess the opponents. They have a sketchy record of late at home, will that make the difference? They attack from right to left in this half.
UNDERWAY IN FLORENCE! Can AC Milan stop the rut, or will the winless streak extend to six?
Elsewhere in Italy, there are eight Serie A games this evening, with Juventus hosting Parma and Catania encountering Napoli.
FIORENTINA: Neto; Tomovic, Savic, Gonzalo, Pasqual; Ambrosini, Borja Valero, Matias Fernandez, Cuadrado, Matri, Joaquin
AC MILAN: Abbiati; Bonera, Mexes, Rami, Constant; De Jong, Muntari; Kakà (c), Honda, Taarabt; Balotelli
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS:
AC Milan have not beaten Fiorentina since 2011 in all competitons. Fiorentina won the reverse fixture 2-0 at San Siro thanks to goals from Juan Vargas and Borja Valero.
The Viola have a poor recent home record nonetheless, with just one win in the last five home encounters. They had drawn nine of the last ten before that. Nevertheless, Fiorentina snatched a 1-0 win away to Napoli on Sunday.
AC Milan's woeful season took another low turn after failure to beat Lazio at the weekend. The Rossoneri, who sit in a rather startling 12th position face a Fiorentina side, who harbour ambitions for a late push on third.
Good evening and welcome to live coverage of this evening's Serie A clash between Fiorentina and AC Milan from the Artemio Franchi in Florence.
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