Sassuolo increased their chances of finishing the season in the top half of Serie A with a 3-1 win over Fiorentina on Saturday evening, as the visitors failed to hold onto their lead at the Mapei Stadium.
Giacomo Bonaventura’s stunning strike had lit up an underwhelming first half but was little more than a consolation after substitute Domenico Berardi scored two quickfire penalties and Maxime Lopez added a third.
A leisurely first-half in Reggio Emilia seemed to highlight that the hosts have little to play for and Fiorentina are not fearing relegation too strongly, although it was the latter who offered a marginally bigger attacking threat.
Early on, Gaetano Castrovilli was allowed to break into the Sassuolo box, but fired straight at the chest of the onrushing Andrea Consigli and would also hit the post moments before half-time.
Then, on 16 minutes, Dusan Vlahovic drove forward and slipped in Cristiano Biraghi, but Consigli palmed away the full-backs powerful effort and held the follow up shot from Franck Ribery.
However, when the Frenchman rolled the ball to Bonaventura on the edge of the box 15 minutes later, Consigli was unable to stop the 31-year-old unleashing a flying left-foot drive high into the net.
The Neroverdi’s only significant goalscoring chance of the first period came on 22 minutes when Hamed Junior Traore ended a near passing move with a curling effort, that was saved acrobatically by Bartlomiej Dragowski.
A triple substitution at the break from coach Roberto De Zerbi signalled that better had been expected from Sassuolo starting XI and the inventive passing of new arrival Berardi immediately brought greater attacking threat.
On 57 minutes Berardi himself broke the Viola offside to receive a wonderful pass and, after being fouled by Dragowski, converted the penalty to score his 100th Neroverdi goal in all competitions.
Just seconds after the restart, though, the hosts were awarded a second penalty, when German Pezzella mistimed a challenge on Giacomo Raspadori, and were suddenly leading a match in which they seemed to have little interest in an hour earlier.
With Sassuolo transformed by the changes and particularly the introduction of their talisman, the comeback was all but confirmed on 75 minutes, with diminutive midfielder Lopez sending a low drive past Dragowski from the edge of the box.