Fiorentina pegged Atalanta back twice to eventually draw 3-3 in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Wednesday night.
Atalanta started off the better side, with Papu Gomez and Marko Pasalic giving La Dea a two goal lead in two minutes, midway through the first half. However, Fiorentina bagged two in three minutes just after the half hour as Federico Chiesa and Marco Benassi ensured the teams went in level at the break.
Marten De Roon gave Atalanta a new lead with a phenomenal strike early in the second half, but Luis Muriel equalised again for Fiorentina with 15 minutes to go.
The two teams will meet in Bergamo at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia for the return leg on the 24th of April.
Fiorentina came racing out of the blocks, with Luis Muriel showcasing all his talent, but it was Atalanta who broke the deadlock 16 minutes in. Gomez cooly finish past Alban Lafont, before Pasalic doubled La Dea’s lead from close range. Josip Ilicic setting up both goals.
Just as the tie seemed to be out of La Viola’s reach, Chiesa made the most of a Jose Palomino mistake and beat Etrit Berisha to pull one back for the hosts 33 minutes in.
Benassi equalised on three minutes later with a beautiful finish, volleying home a Muriel ball and breathe new life into Fiorentina.
After the break, Fiorentina again started brightly and went looking for the lead, with Vitor Hugo wasting a huge opportunity, heading wide from close range.
But, just as in the opening 45 minutes, it was the visitors who went ahead, as a sloppy Lafont response to a corner gave De Roon the perfect ball to smash home with a beautiful finish from just outside the area.
Stefano Pioli went for broke int he final 15 minutes and stuck on Giovanni Simeone. It immediately paid off, as the No.9 started a counter attack that lead to Muriel’s poking home a Chiesa cross.
In the dying moments Atalanta almost bagged the winner, with Hans Hateboer’s header smashing on the crossbar, but it was all square after the first 90 minutes of this semifinal.
La Dea will be in a winning position with this result going into the second leg, but this game has shown that anything can still happened on the road to Rome.
FIORENTINA NEVER GIVE UP
Being 2-0 down at home after just 18 minutes could have killed the Viola. Conceding a third after drawing level and looking sharper could have been the lethal blow. Instead, Pioli’s men showed their character throughout the match, fighting back and getting level twice. This is still a bad result for Fiorentina considering there is a second leg to be played in Bergamo and given Atalanta were the better side for the most part of the game. However, the personality showed by Fiorentina is something Davide Astori would be proud of. With this character, Fiorentina can reach the final.
THIS JOSIP ILICIC
His career in a nutshell. He is inconsistent, has always been, but can reach phenomenal levels. At times irritating, at others simply unplayable. Of course, Vitor Hugo should have marked him more closely, but Ilicic is able to become a nightmare for full backs and centre backs on a night like this. His left foot can be delicious, and if the team mates are ready to turn his assists into goals, Atalanta can dream bigger.