Lecce snatched all three points in the dying embers of the game against Fiorentina in Serie A on Friday evening, with injury time strikes from Roberto Piccoli and Patrick Dorgu and a first-half free-kick from Remi Oudin bettering Rolando Mandragora and Lucas Beltran’s efforts in a 3-2 thriller.
Fiorentina were leading 2-1 with 89 minutes gone, and had temporarily been in the Champions League positions, but crumbled at the death and are still without a win in Serie A since the turn of the new year.
The home side registered the first real opportunity of proceedings. Pontus Almqvist won a questionable free kick off Fiorentina’s Duncan, which allowed Oudin to send an enticing delivery in from the right channel. Nikola Kristovic and Federico Baschirotto were not quite able to make contact with the cross.
Lecce struck the woodwork three minutes later. Antonin Gallo delivered a wicked cross from the left flank, which Mohamed Kaba slammed onto the crossbar with his head. Almqvist then headed the rebound straight down the middle, which still required quick reactions from Pietro Terracciano to keep the scores at 0-0.
Lecce capitalised on their bright start by winning what initially looked like a penalty after 13 minutes. Krstovic released Almqvist, who looked to burst into the area, before being brought down by Lucas Martinez Quatra right on the edge of the box. Referee Antonio Giua did point to the spot at first.
There had been some questions as to whether the tackle was made inside or outside the area. A lengthy VAR review deemed that a free-kick was in fact the correct decision, which saved Martinez Quatra from a sending off.
Confusingly, Giua then reached for a red before realising he had taken the wrong coloured card out of his pocket. A yellow was then correctly awarded. After several minutes of confusion and Fiorentina protests, Oudin lined up his free-kick, which he subsequently bent through a gap in the wall and into the back of the net for 1-0.
Lameck Banda sent in yet another dangerous ball from the left flank, this time a slow, low cross into the middle of the area. Krstovic took a couple of touches to get the ball out of his feet before rolling an effort onto the post.
35 minutes into proceedings, Fiorentina had not managed to register a shot on Wladimiro Falcone’s goal. Davide Faraoni sent a wayward header comfortably wide of the goal from a Giacomo Bonaventura cross with around 10 minutes of regular time left to play in the first half.
Terracciano was called into action once more before the half-time whistles, stretching out to prevent an Alexis Blin header after a decent corner from Oudin.
Vincenzo Italiano called for wholesale changes at the interval, and the players he brought on signalled a switch to all-out attack.
Nikola Milenkovic came on to replace the already booked Martinez Quatra at centre-back, Mandragora came on for Duncan, while Andrea Belotti came on for his Fiorentina debut in place of Bonaventura. With Beltran and M’bala Nzola still on the pitch, La Viola effectively had three strikers on at the beginning of the second half.
Krstovic somehow managed to smash the ball over the crossbar from about seven yards out two minutes into the second period. The decision was offside, but the player was unaware and actually, the officials may not have made the correct decision.
Fortunately for Fiorentina, the scores were back level almost immediately. And, it was one of Italiano’s subs who made the difference.
Out of almost nothing, Mandragora smashed a low, driven effort into the far corner from 25 yards out on the left-hand side. That was Fiorentina’s first shot on target all game and Mandragora’s first goal in any competition since August.
Lecce technical coach Salvatore Sullo was shown a red card for dissent just shy of the hour mark.
63 minutes in, Milenkovic got his legs in a muddle and allowed Banda to sneak through, racing towards Terraciano’s net with nobody else to stop him. The Fiorentina keeper did very well to keep the scores level.
Nico Gonzalez was called up to replace Riccardo Sottil shortly afterwards.
Beltran then capitalised on a calamitous error from Lecce’s Falcone. The ‘keeper had played a one-two with Baschirotto from a free-kick just outside the six-yard box. Beltran came rushing in to close him down, only for Falcone to play the ball directly onto his foot, which bounced straight into the back of the net.
There had been some initial confusion, as TNT cameras had been showing a replay of Banda’s missed opportunity when the goal went in.
Belotti came within inches of a goal on his debut with three minutes of regular time left to play, swivelling and sending a looping effort from close range over the top of Falcone and onto the crossbar. Fabiano Parisi should have buried his effort in the following phase.
Then, chaos ensued at the Stadio Giardiniero. A deep Lecce free-kick was sent into the Fiorentina area, which Nzola managed to head backwards and into danger, for substitute Roberto Piccoli to stab into the back of the net for 2-2.
Lecce won the ball back almost immediately from kick-off, sending four players off on the break. Krstovic’s initial effort was parried by Terraciano into the path of Dorgu, who bent a sweet effort in off the upright to send the Stadio Giardiniero into a frenzy.
That was the 19-year-old’s first Serie A goal, and it could not have come at a more important time.
Lecce have managed to lift themselves into 13th place in the Serie A table on 24 points after 23 games, while Fiorentina remain in seventh. Their Champions League aspirations have just suffered a rather hefty blow.