Wed, Mar 01, 2017 - Page 16 News List

‘La Viola’ jeered after blowing lead

Reuters, MILAN, Italy

ACF Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa, front second right, and Torino’s Emiliano Moretti, second left, vie for the ball in their Serie A match at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence, Italy, on Monday.

Photo: AP

ACF Fiorentina squandered a two-goal lead at home for the second time in five days on Monday and were jeered off the pitch following a 2-2 draw with Torino which heaped the pressure on coach Paulo Sousa.

Torino forward Andrea Belotti missed a penalty for the third time this season, but then scored a brace for the visitors in the second half after Riccardo Saponara and Nikola Kalinic had given the hosts a two-goal halftime lead.

It was all too familiar for Fiorentina fans, who Thursday last week watched their team go 2-0 up at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach — and 3-0 on aggregate — in the UEFA Europa League, but then collapse to a 4-2 defeat.

About 300 fans protested at a training session on Sunday, demanding Sousa’s resignation, but the Portuguese said he would not quit.

The result left Fiorentina eighth, increasingly out of touch with the race for Europa League places, with Torino in ninth.

“I will sleep well tonight because I’ve done my job with great honesty,” Sousa told reporters. “The fans pay for their tickets, they have every right to make their feelings known. They’re the soul of the club, they’ve been here the longest.”

Saponara gave Fiorentina an eighth-minute lead, turning in the rebound after Torino goalkeeper Joe Hart superbly stopped Borja Valero’s shot, then Kalinic headed in seven minutes before the break.

Torino were nowhere and only Hart prevented a bigger deficit.

The second half was a different story and Fiorentina had a let-off when Belotti’s penalty hit the crossbar, the fifth out of nine spot-kicks squandered by Torino this season.

However, Fiorentina’s relief was short-lived when Belotti headed a goal back in the 65th minute.

The home fans could sense what was coming and five minutes from the end Daniele Baselli’s cross found Belotti who slotted home his 19th goal of the season, making him joint top scorer in Serie A alongside Gonzalo Higuain of Juventus and AS Roma’s Edin Dzeko.

“We weren’t on the pitch for the first hour,” said Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, whose side have won only one of nine games this calendar year. “We prepared for the match in a certain way and did exactly the opposite on the pitch. All five [missed] penalties were decisive and if we had converted them, we could have six or seven more points.”

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