Florence, February 23: Erick Pulgar's late penalty salvaged a 1-1 Serie A draw for 10-man Fiorentina against Milan on Saturday (February 22).
Fiorentina were heading for defeat at Stadio Artemio Franchi, but Asmir Begovic – on in place of the injured Gianluigi Donnarumma – was unable to keep out a Pulgar spot-kick five minutes from time after Alessio Romagnoli was adjudged to have fouled former Patrick Cutrone.
Pulgar's penalty cancelled out Ante Rebic's second-half opener, with the Croatia forward having netted his sixth goal in his last six Serie A appearances.
Matters looked even bleaker for Fiorentina when Dalbert was shown a red card for a foul on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but ultimately it was Milan who were left hanging on, Dusan Vlahovic and Martin Caceres missing late chances to win it.
Pulgar risponde a Rebic, e finale di cuore dei viola in 10 per oltre mezz'ora. Segno 'X' al Franchi, ma è come una vittoria.— ACF Fiorentina (@acffiorentina) February 22, 2020
Fiorentina 🆚 Milan 1⃣-1⃣#ForzaVIola 💜 #FiorentinaMilan pic.twitter.com/IkUF1Okg14
Donnarumma was lucky not to be punished for a sloppy mistake in the 13th minute, with Gaetano Castrovilli blazing over after Milan's goalkeeper conceded possession.
Rebic should have made Fiorentina pay for a poorly executed offside trap soon after, yet directed a close-range header at Bartlomiej Dragowski.
Ibrahimovic made no such mistake with Milan's next opening, slotting coolly beyond Dragowski after getting the better of two defenders, only for the goal to be disallowed for handball after a VAR check.
Despite Donnarumma succumbing to injury early in the second half, Milan hit the front in the 56th minute - Rebic thumping home via a deflection after capitalising on Caceres' error.
Fiorentina's frustrations were swiftly compounded when Dalbert, despite initially escaping with a booking for a professional foul on Ibrahimovic, was dismissed for a professional foul after the referee checked the replay.
However, Giuseppe Iachini's roll of the dice to introduce ex-Milan striker Cutrone paid off when he drew a tackle from Romagnoli and, though it seemed as if the defender got the ball, Fiorentina were awarded a penalty.
Begovic got a hand to Pulgar's spot-kick but was unable to keep it out and Fiorentina went for the jugular, but neither Caceres or Vlahovic could keep their cool to snatch all three points.
What does it mean? Milan must put games to bed
It has been some turnaround in fortunes for Milan in 2020 but they were punished for not putting Fiorentina to the sword when they had the chance after Dalbert's dismissal. The visitors seemed in complete control but it proved to be a frustrating evening.
Cutrone proves his worth against boyhood club
Cutrone was reportedly not keen to leave Milan for Wolves in the off season and failed to settle in the Premier League. Now back in Serie A, the forward - who is yet to score a league goal for Fiorentina - made a crucial impact against his former side, and perhaps his Viola career is about to take off.
Milan dealt Donnarumma blow
Begovic might think he could haved save Pulgar's penalty and, though the ex-Chelsea man provides plenty of experience, Stefano Pioli will be desperately hoping Donnarumma, who required treatment in the opening stages, has not suffered an injury which will keep him on the sidelines for too long.
Milan host struggling Genoa on February 29, with Fiorentina facing Udinese later that day.