The Viola were a completely different beast in cup competitions, reaching the Coppa Italia semi-final and winning the first leg of their Conference League play-off 4-0 away to Braga on Thursday, yet had one point from the last five Serie A rounds. Their local rivals Empoli were surprisingly higher up the Serie A standings going in, but lost Fabiano Parisi to suspension, with long-term absentees Lorenzo Tonelli and Mattia Destro.
Rolando Mandragora scuffed his shot wide from the edge of the area, then there were chaotic scenes when Guglielmo Vicario fumbled a cross, made the save on the rebound from Antonin Barak and eventually it was nodded over in a crowd of players by Lucas Martinez Quarta.
Riccardo Saponara’s strike was accidentally deflected just wide by teammate Luka Jovic and Lorenzo Venuti volleyed over, but it was Empoli who took the lead against the run of play.
Sofyan Amrabat had his pocket picked in the final third by Tommaso Baldanzi, then Francesco Caputo set up Nicolò Cambiaghi to finish it off from 12 yards, again anticipating the Morocco international.
Fiorentina had the ball in the net on 37 minutes after a corner, as Vicario fumbled the ball, made a save and eventually Antonin Barak bundled over the line. However, the linesman first and then VAR confirmed Nico Gonzalez was offside in the build-up.
The bad Viola luck continued, losing Nikola Milenkovic to a muscular issue, and Vicario had his gloves stung by Caputo on the counter-attack.
Empoli thought they had doubled their lead, as Cambiaghi got down the right and rolled across, a defender failing to cut it out, so Caputo could tap in from six yards relatively undisturbed. However, it was disallowed after a long VAR check for offside.
The hosts kept pushing, Razvan Marin preventing a Jovic tap-in on a knockdown and his header then inches over from the resulting corner.
Amrabat blasted over and Bandinelli made practically a goal-line clearance on Lucas Martinez Quarta from a Mandragora in-swinging corner, while Nico Gonzalez also turned a header inches off target.
Vicario as usual performed heroics on Martinez Quarta’s cheeky volley from close range on a Nico Gonzalez knockdown.
Empoli instead nearly doubled their lead, as Caputo’s header from the Marin corner was cleared off the line by Martinez Quarta, making his mark at the other end.
Fiorentina did equalise in the final stages when Dodo’s cross from the right looped strangely to bounce off the crossbar and into the path of Arthur Cabral’s header at the back post.
It turned into a Viola siege late on, but Vicario again was decisive on Cabral’s volley at the back stick.
Fiorentina 1-1 Empoli
Cambiaghi 28 (E), Cabral 85 (F)
|27'||Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro|
|28'||Nicolò Cambiaghi |
(Assist: Francesco Caputo)
|Lucas Martínez Quarta||70'|