Atalanta vs Fiorentina, final score 0-2: Viola flying high, dreaming even higher

Claudio Villa

The Viola failed to impress during the first half in Bergamo, but Vincenzo Montella's substitutions made the difference, leading to two second half goals. Fiorentina's win puts them within four points of third-place Milan.

It took Fiorentina a full forty minutes to awaken from their coma and remember that three points were absolutely essential if they wanted to keep their Champions League dreams alive. Fortunately for the visitors, Atalanta somehow managed not to score in that time, despite having the freedom to roam the pitch and dance into the area.

Giacomo Bonaventura had a great first half, getting himself into wide areas to provide terrific balls for Marko Livaja and German Denis. It was only due to the fine work of Emiliano Viviano that Denis couldn't get a flick in, while a slightly quicker run from Livaja could have meant this match turned out very differently.

Instead, Fiorentina turned themselves around. It started just before the break, when Alberto Aquilani created the first real chance of the game, chesting down a ball from David Pizarro. He couldn't get enough power on the shot, however, and Andrea Consigli was able to save easily. Minutes later, Aquilani had a chance to head on a cross from Manuel Pasqual, but again, Consigli had no trouble saving.

The real fun came in the second half, specifically around minute 58. Vincenzo Montella made a double save, bringing on Adem Ljajic, who'd began the game on the bench with a muscle problem, and Marcelo Larrondo. Mounir El Hamdaui, practically invisible in the first half, and Aquilani were the ones that made way.

Just three minutes later, Ljajic succeeded in earning another penalty, his second in two matches. Again, this one was rather dubious -- a handball by Guglielmo Stendardo that certainly didn't look intentional. But the Viola found their break and Pizarro wasn't going to waste it, slotting neatly into the bottom right corner of the net.

And by the 72nd minute, it was all over for Atalanta, courtesy of a fantastic goal by Larrondo. Juan Cuadrado, who'd had a surprisingly poor first half, showed his usual quality to set Larrondo up with a through ball. The goal just beautiful, with the forward coming into it from a difficult angle but still managing to smash the ball just under the bar.

Then Larrondo very nearly turned from hero to villain, and certainly went from villain to public enemy number 1 in the Atalanta supporters' eyes. He put in an ugly tackle on Bonaventura, coming in from behind and executing what another referee could have easily considered a red-card offense.

Fiorentina continued to threaten, with the lively Ljajic leading the counter-attack, constantly racing up the left-hand side and dribbling through the Atalanta defense. Ljajic tried to imitate Larrondo with his own shot from a difficult angle, but this time Consigli was able to rescue -- with his legs.

Atalanta's only real chance to get something form the game came in the 83rd minute, after Maxi Moralez earned a free kick for his side. Facundo Parra got on the end of a ball from Cristiano Del Grosso, but his header went just wide of the far post.

Things got even worse for Atalanta in the 90th minute, when German Denis put in a nasty challenge on Pizarro. The striker came nowhere near the ball, instead clipping Pizarro across the back of the legs. Clemente Russo showed no hesitation in pulling out the red card, so la dea will be without Denis for their games against Genoa and Bologna.

Atalanta: Andrea Consigli, Cristiano Del Grosso, Stefano Lucchini, Guglielmo Stendardo, Lionel Scaloni, Giacomo Bonaventura, Ivan Radovanovic, Davide Biondini (Maxi Moralez 74), Franco Brienza (Luigi Giorgi 49), Germán Denis, Marko Livaja (Facundo Parra 76)

Fiorentina: Emiliano Viviano, Marvin Compper, Facundo Roncaglia, Gonzalo Rodríguez, Manuel Pasqual, David Pizarro, Mohamed Sissoko (Giulio Migliaccio 73), Juan Cuadrado, Borja Valero, Alberto Aquilani (Adem Ljajic 58), Mounir El Hamdaoui (Marcelo Larrondo 58)

Goals: Pizarro 61 (F), Larrondo 72 (F)

Red cards: Denis 90 (A)

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