ACF Fiorentina, two goals down and reduced to 10 men, converted two quickfire penalties to draw 2-2 with AC Milan in Serie A on Sunday, while a 12-minute hat-trick by German Denis gave Atalanta BC a 4-3 win at a stunned Inter after they had trailed 3-1.
Inter were set to move above Fiorentina in the race for a UEFA Champions League place when Ricardo Alvarez scored twice in four minutes to put them 3-1 ahead, until his fellow Argentine Denis sprang into action on a day of drama and controversy.
Elsewhere, Josip Ilicic scored a memorable individual goal, beating four players in a run from the halfway line, before firing past Sergio Romero to give strugglers US Citta di Palermo a 3-1 win at UC Sampdoria, their second successive win.
Antonio di Natale scored twice in Udinese’s 3-1 win over AC Chievo Verona, the first after goalkeeper Christian Puggioni made a hash of trying to dribble his way out of trouble and the second a magnificent volley from an almost impossible angle.
SSC Napoli stayed nine points behind leaders Juventus in second place with a 2-0 win over Genoa thanks to first-half goals from Goran Pandev and Blerim Dzemaili, while the Catania versus Cagliari and AC Siena versus Parma matches ended goalless.
Tommaso Rocchi put injury-plagued Inter ahead two minutes before halftime at the San Siro, but the real drama came in the second half with six goals in 21 minutes.
Giacomo Bonaventura leveled in the 56th minute, but Alvarez immediately put Inter back in front, pouncing on a loose ball, and he struck again four minutes later with a superb solo goal.
Denis pulled one back with a 65th minute penalty, fired the equalizer six minutes later and volleyed the winner from close range in the 77th minute. There was still time for Atalanta’s Cristian Raimondi to be dismissed in stoppage-time.
AC Milan midfielder Riccardo Montolivo scored 14 minutes into his return to Fiorentina, where he spent seven seasons.
The Italy international ignored the jeers from the crowd as he dispossessed David Pizarro and rolled the ball into the corner from the edge of the area.
Nenad Tomovic was given a straight red card in the 40th minute after being adjudged to have elbowed Stephan El Shaarawy as the two tussled for the ball, bringing furious protests from the Fiorentina players, who surrounded the referee to remonstrate.
Milan appeared home and dry when Mathieu Flamini scored in the 62nd minute from a chance created by Montolivo, but instead Fiorentina hit back.
Adem Ljajic won and converted a controversial 66th-minute penalty and Pizarro stepped up to fire home his own spot-kick seven minutes later after Juan Cuadrado was tripped.
Mario Balotelli has been on his best behavior since joining Milan, but the maverick striker’s old habits resurfaced this weekend when he was fined for smoking in a train toilet and suspended for a needless yellow card. The 22-year-old Italian was booked for failing to retreat at a free-kick.
Balotelli’s problems began on Saturday when the team traveled by train to the game in Florence.
Balotelli was caught smoking in the toilet by a ticket collector.
Balotelli was ticked off by the guard, who told Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani: “You need to pull his ears. He was smoking in the bathroom,” Gazzetta dello Sport reported.