Controversy rules as Milan held by ten-man Fiorentina

Posted by Sumeet Paul

David Pizarro scores Fiorentina's equaliser against AC Milan from the penalty spotGettyImagesPizarro scores Fiorentina's equaliser against AC Milan from the penalty spot

In a highly charged atmosphere in Florence on Sunday, Milan were held to a disappointing 2-2 draw by ten-man Fiorentina. Despite a thrilling encounter between two Champions League-chasing sides, the name of referee Paolo Tagliavento was the one on everyone's lips at the full-time whistle.

- Video: Fiorentina 2-2 Milan (UK and Ire only)
- Allegri: Fiorentina clash not decisive

Prior to kick-off, it was decided amongst the Milan hierarchy that former Viola man Riccardo Montolivo would captain the side. The 28-year-old didn't disappoint under the added responsibility as his early goal helped the Rossoneri enjoy a sense of control over the game, with the tactical game-plan working to great effect.

Assistant Mauro Tassotti noted in his pre-game interview that one of the key points in defeating Fiorentina would be to shut-down David Pizarro. Montolivo did exactly that, hustling the playmaker into losing the ball before slotting it past goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.

However, the game turned with the controversial dismissal of Nenad Tomovic for what the officials deemed a flailing elbow on Stephan El Shaarawy. His departure had a frustratingly reverse effect on Milan, who seemed to play better against 11, rather than 10.

Despite Mathieu Flamini netting his first goal of the season, a drop in intensity and questionable refereeing decisions combined to conspire against the Rossoneri. Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentina were awarded two penalties, while claims at the opposite end fell on deaf ears.

Blame can, and most likely will, be directed at Tagliavento and his assistants, but as noted by Massimiliano Allegri in his post-match reaction, his side were also at fault.

"We controlled the first half well, but when going a man up we did not deal with the situation the right way," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"It was difficult for the referee today, as decisions were taken in favour of and against both teams. At the end of the game we put everything back in the balance and that is a shame. We let ourselves go in terms of intensity and were half-asleep."

Montella was also left angered by the decision to dismiss Tomovic, but will arguably be the happier of the two coaches having seen his side battle back impressively. In contrast, too many players went missing in the second-half for Milan and although the unbeaten run is extended, dropped points at this stage of the season could be crucial.

It is a bitter blow as essentially a win in Florence could have removed the Viola from the Champions League picture. A potentially unassailable nine-point gap would have put Allegri's side in a great position with Napoli and Juventus ahead over the next fortnight.

In addition, Mario Balotelli will play no part in the meeting with Napoli next Sunday having picked up a yellow card at the Artemio Franchi. However, Milan should still be in good spirits considering they are guaranteed at least a five-point buffer by the end of the weekend.

It will now be vital for the Rossoneri to regroup and be ready to go again next weekend, with no let up in the final stretch of the season. Despite the circumstances, a draw in Florence is by no means a disappointing outcome, but as this side continues to mature they must learn to adapt to favourable situations better and avoid unnecessarily dropping points.

Who was your man of the match against Fiorentina? Do you think Tagliavento got it wrong with his decisions or did Milan not do enough to finish the game off?

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