Inter Milan was unable to hold off a late charge and sustain 10 minutes (plus seven minutes of extra time) of consistent attack, as a late penalty drew ACF Fiorentina level with the Nerazzurri, 3-3 Sunday in Florence.
It was an early second half penalty from Ivan Perisic that could have sealed the match for the Nerazzurri, who would have claimed their fifth straight win in all competitions But the draw keeps Inter Milan in third place in Serie A – two points in front of AC Milan.
Goals from Matias Vecino, Matteo Politano and Perisic were nearly enough to see Inter through despite a very early goal from the Viola and a late goal to pull Fiorentina back to within one goal.
Inter Milan put themselves in a hole early after Giovanni Simeone put in a shot toward goal that ricocheted off Stefan de Vrij and into the back of the net 16 seconds into the match.
Fiorentina 1-0 Inter - We went to sleep instantly punished pic.twitter.com/WoqjJcWDlh— InterYaSkrinYa (@InterYaSkrinYa) February 24, 2019
It marked the fastest goal in Serie A this season.
But, Inter appeared to respond quickly when Vecino found the goal for the first time in Serie A this season after Radja Nainggolan took a corner kick into the area.
Fiorentina 1-1 Inter (VECINO) A great response to that shocking start. pic.twitter.com/l5uyFW9laF— InterYaSkrinYa (@InterYaSkrinYa) February 24, 2019
Despite drawing level, it was Fiorentina that continued to be the aggressors on offense.
In the 10th minute, Vitor Hugo attempted a header from Jordan Veretout, but Hugo’s delivery was blocked away. Ten minutes later, Marco Benassi had a right-footed shot from in the middle of the area sail to the left of Samir Handanovic and out of play.
Gerson made an attempt in the 29th minute after faltering from Inter’s defense. His shot from outside the box, however, went wide to the left of the net.
Inter continued to struggle to find any rhythm after Vecino’s goal as Fiorentina continued to press.
But, in the 40th minute, it was Politano who seemed to wake up the Inter offense.
Danilo D’Ambrosio picked out Politano with a nice pass and Politano struck the ball with his left foot, curling it around and finding the back of the net, putting the Nerazzurri up 2-1.
Fiorentina 1-2 Inter (POLITANO) pic.twitter.com/MU8EX2aYDq— InterYaSkrinYa (@InterYaSkrinYa) February 24, 2019
Perisic nearly had an opportunity after a breakdown from the Viola defense when Lautaro Martinez slotted a ball into a streaking Perisic, but the Croatian’s shot was took strong and went over the goal to the left.
In the first half, Inter had four shots with two of them on target while Fiorentina managed six shots with none of them on target. After starting sluggishly, Inter was able to even up the possession in the latter half of the period.
The second half started with the same veracity as the first with Inter being the aggressors this time around.
Just before the 50th minute, a free kick from Marcelo Brozovic seemed to clip the hand of Fiorentina defender Edimilson Fernandes. After an extensive review from the video-assisted referee, a penalty was awarded.
Perisic was able to bury its first goal in league place since before the holidays of 2018 to put the Nerazzurri up 3-1.
Fiorentina 1-3 Inter (Perisic Penalty) pic.twitter.com/wAcDhBMcU5— InterYaSkrinYa (@InterYaSkrinYa) February 24, 2019
But, in the 59th minute, Fiorentina responded after Cristiano Biraghi blasted a rebound into goal. However, the referee took a look at the VAR and waived the goal off after it appeared Luis Muriel – who just came on as a substitute – was shown to have fouled an Inter player in the area just before Biraghi’s shot went in.
It was at that point Fiorentina elected to stretch the field in order to gain more offensive opportunity. However, that also made it easier to Inter to keep hold of the ball when the Viola made a misstep.
But, it seemed to work out for Fiorentina in the 74th minute after Muriel blasted a shot from outside the area that found the upper corner of the goal, pulling the Viola back to within a goal, 3-2.
Inter nearly responded, again with Vecino, after Fiorentina were dispossessed the ball found Politano. Politano crossed in to find Vecino who’s header nearly snuck in, but Alban Lafont collected the attempt in front of goal.
In the 86th minute, Federico Chiesa took a long cross, took a few dribbled and attempted a shot from distance that went well right of the goal.
A minute later Lautaro Martinez appeared to be fouled on a drive, but the referee failed to stop play after Martinez appealed for treatment. It was Chiesa who finally put the ball out of play and appealed for stoppage.
On running back, Lafont appeared to have words with Martinez and Lafont was shown a yellow card for the effort.
The Nerazzurri seemed to struggle to keep Fiorentina off their offensive front foot in the latter stages of the game as Stefano Pioli’s call to spread the field seemed to keep Inter off balance.
In the 96th minute, Fiorentina were awarded a penalty after the ball appeared to strike D’Ambrosio on the arm. The third VAR of the match seemed to show the ball go off D’Ambrosio’s chest. However, the referee didn’t see enough in the review to overturn the decision.
Veretout buried the ball past Handanovic to end the match on level terms.
Inter will have a short turnaround before getting back on the road to take on Cagliari on Friday and the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday, March 7.
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