Serie A - AC Milan move to within six points of Inter after edging five-goal thriller in Florence
Serie A, Stadio Artemio Franchi - Fiorentina 2 (Pulgar 17, Ribery 51) AC Milan 3 (Ibrahimovic 9, Diaz 57, Calhanoglu 72)
AC Milan's Turkish midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu (R) celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Italian Serie A football match Fiorentina vs AC Milan on March 21, 2021 at the Artemio-Franchi stadium in Florence
Hakan Calhanoglu scored the winner as AC Milan closed the gap on eternal city rivals and league leaders Inter to six points with a dramatic 3-2 triumph at Fiorentina.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was restored to the Milan starting XI having come off the bench in the Europa League defeat to Manchester United on Thursday following a spell on the sidelines and the veteran marked the occasion with the opener in the ninth minute, breaking the offside trap to slot past Bartlomiej Dragowski. The strike made him the oldest player to score 15 goals in a Serie A season at the age of 39 years and 169 days.
However, their lead lasted just eight minutes as Fiorentina drew level in stylish fashion, with Erick Pulgar's splendid curling free-kick beating Gianluigi Donnarumma from just outside the penalty area.
Donnarumma could only watch on as German Pezzella's back-heel flick hit the underside of the bar, but the woodwork was soon rattling at the opposite end when Ibrahimovic's dinked finish bounced off the crossbar.
Franck Ribery rolled back the years to give Fiorentina the lead with a lovely finish six minutes after the restart, but Brahim Diaz scored his second goal of the season to restore parity in the 57th-minute following a corner.
Ibrahimovic hit the post with an effort with the outside of his boot as Milan upped the ante in search of a winner, but Calhanoglu wasn't to be denied, grabbing the match winner with an instinctive first-time shot with 18 minutes remaining.
TALKING POINT - Milan come out fighting to keep pressure on Inter
Just when you thought Milan might be dead and buried in their bid to land a first Scudetto since 2011, Stefano Pioli's side pull a huge victory like this out of the bag.
When Fiorentina took the lead early in the second half, it looked like the visitors would throw away an opportunity to make up ground on Inter, whose Saturday's night clash with Sassuolo was delayed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the Nerazzurri camp. But they showed tremendous spirit to come from behind and take all three points to reignite their title charge.
It was Milan's 12th away win of the campaign and what a perfect way to sign off before the international break, with the Rossoneri proving yet again that you cannot write this side off.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan celebrates after scoring a goal during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and AC Milan at Stadio Artemio Franchi on March 21, 2021 in Florence, Italy
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH - Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan)
Ibrahimovic was excellent and led the line tremendously, but Calhanoglu scored the decisive goal to cap a fine attacking display.
9' - GOAL! Fiorentina 0-1 AC Milan (Zlatan Ibrahimovic): Who else but Ibra scores to break the deadlock! The 39-year-old times his run to perfection to meet a ball over the top and he keeps his cool to control and slot it past Dragowski.
17' - GOAL! Fiorentina 1-1 AC Milan (Erick Pulgar): Oh my, that is sensational! Pulgar lifts the free-kick over the wall and although Donnarumma gets a hand to it, the Milan goalkeeper cannot keep it out!
51' - GOAL! Fiorentina 2-1 Milan (Franck Ribery): Ribery rolls back the years with a lovely goal to give Fiorentina the lead! The hosts work a nice move down the left, Vlahovic receives with his back to goal and tees up Ribery, who finishes with a first-time low effort.
57' - GOAL! Fiorentina 2-2 AC Milan (Brahim Diaz): It's all level again! Diaz scores his second goal of the season - and how important could this one prove to be?! Milan win a corner on the break, Kjaer heads it to the near post and Diaz keeps his cool to score Milan's equaliser from just a few yards out.
72' - GOAL! Fiorentina 2-3 AC Milan (Hakan Calhanoglu): A great finish from Calhanoglu and Milan are back in the lead! It's only a half chance, really, but he connects with a first-time shot and it nestles into the far corner. How significant could this prove to be in the title race?!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, aged 39 years and 169 days, is the oldest player to reach 15 goals in Serie A's history.
AC Milan have won 12 games away from home in Serie A this season: a joint-record for the Rossoneri in a single top-flight campaign despite the fact they still have five away games to play (level with 2004/05 and 2011/12).
Hakan Calhanoglu has scored four goals against Fiorentina in Serie A, at least two more than against any other side in the Italian top-flight.