The Viola very nearly moved into joint-second place with their win over Atalanta, but Inter Milan managed a point against Cagliari. Instead, victory means Fiorentina share third with Napoli.
The Viola came out flying in Florence and never looked back. The first shot came in the second minute, when Luca Toni picked up a through ball from Adem Ljajic. Andrea Consigli was quick on the draw, though, saving the veteran's shot before it settled in the bottom corner.
The Atalanta keeper wasn't so fortunate a few minutes later. A foul on Ljajic led to a free kick, taken by Manuel Pasquale. The visitors weren't composed enough to clear the danger, and Gonzalo Rodriguez took advantage, sticking his foot around his marker and slotting the ball into the back of the net. It was only the 5th minute and the Viola were already ahead.
Atalanta weren't quite ready to accept defeat, however, gathering their forces and putting pressure on the Fiorentina defense. The first real attempt came in the 10th minute, when Germán Denis got on the end of a cross from Luca Cigarini. All shots from the visitors seemed to come from the Argentine, which is why it was slightly surprising when Giacomo Bonaventura scored the equalizer in the 34th minute. The goal was a bit fluky, with the ball seeming to pinball around the area, but Bonaventura got on the end of a header by Cristian Raimondi to put the ball past Emiliano Viviano.
But it was less than ten minutes before Fiorentina had taken the lead once again. You'd think Atalanta would have realized not to run around fouling Viola players near the area, but no, Carlos Camona clipped David Pizarro on the ankle and the Chilean went down like he was shot. It was Alberto Aquilani that took the kick, and let off a lovely shot that curled into the top left corner, leaving Consigli rooted to the ground.
Things only got worse for the visitors. Cigarini was sent off with a straight red for a foul on Juan Cuadrado, which may or may not have been slightly harsh. Cuadrado executed a very acrobatic barrel roll into the area, but the referee wasn't fooled, awarding just a free kick. Surprisingly enough, Fiorentina didn't score.
No matter, though, because the home side took a 3-1 advantage into the break, thanks to Aquilani scoring a second in the final move of the first half. This time it was a tap in from a corner -- we're still waiting to see if the Viola can score outside a set piece situation.
It didn't take long for Fiorentina to demonstrate that yes, it was possible for them to score from open play. Aquilani was the creator for his side's fourth goal, sending in a perfectly lovely cross, which Luca Toni headed on past Consigli. Perhaps Aquilani heard me wondering if there was any point to him beyond his hair?
After the fourth goal, the match turned into an exercise in passing for Fiorentina. Sure, there were a few attempts on goal by the Viola, but for the most part, it seemed the objective was to simply keep the ball away from Atalanta. In all honesty, watching a match that's 4-1 by the 50th minute is rather boring. Watching that match before 8 a.m. is positively nap-inducing.