- Associated Press
Monday, February 24, 2014

MILAN (AP) - Matias Fernandez’s stunning free kick saw Champions League-chasing Fiorentina snatch a 2-2 draw at Parma in a thrilling Serie A match which also featured three red cards on Monday.

Fiorentina remained six points behind third-place Napoli after an equally magnificent free kick from on-loan Napoli forward Emanuele Calaio rescued a 1-1 draw for Genoa against his parent club.

“We could have managed the game better, especially in the first half,” Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said. “We played well against a difficult opponent even when we were a man down but the two sendings off are a pity.

“We had a great first half, but we weren’t clinical. We conceded in our best period and then we got nervous, but we managed to rescue the match with our tenacity and strength.”

Antonio Cassano fired Parma in front six minutes from halftime after Amauri’s pull-back was deflected into his path.

Fiorentina drew level two minutes later when Juan Cuadrado slid in at the back post, slotting home Alessandro Matri’s cross.

Former Fiorentina forward Amauri restored Parma’s lead six minutes after the break with a penalty after Nenad Tomovic fouled Jonathan Biabiany.

Fiorentina’s hopes of getting something from the match appeared to evaporate when Modibo Diakite was sent off for a second booking two minutes later.

However, Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto kept his side in the game with fine saves, including a fantastic double stop to deny first Marco Cassani and then Amauri from point-blank range.

And substitute Fernandez struck a stunning 30-meter free kick into the top far corner five minutes from time.

Gianni Munari and Borja Valero were sent off following a stoppage-time brawl.

After extending its club record run of unbeaten matches to 13, Parma was seventh, three points behind fifth-place Inter Milan in the race for a Europa League spot.

“I’m disappointed to draw because we were justified in expecting all three points,” Parma coach Roberto Donandoni said. “But you have to give credit to the quality of your opponents, like Matia Fernandez’s goal which was an extraordinary free kick.

“We made a bit too many mistakes at the beginning, but then the lads did well against a great team.”

Fiorentina lost no ground in the race for a Champions League spot after Napoli was also held in the late match.

Napoli appeared to be heading for all three points after Gonzalo Higuain gave it the lead in the 18th minute. The Argentina forward timed his run to perfection and chipped a delightful through ball from Marek Hamsik over Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin for his 13th league goal of the season.

However, Calaio curled a free kick into the top right corner six minutes from time. He apologized to the home fans.

“I’m sorry to have scored a goal against Napoli itself. I had important spells there,” Calaio said. “When the manager gives me the opportunity I try to give my all for this shirt, our fans deserve it. I dedicate the goal to my family and my son.

“It’s the third goal in my career I’ve scored from a free kick, I’m sorry to have scored at the San Paolo, but that’s my job and I hope to score in the next games too.”

Napoli is six points behind second-place Roma and 15 behind leader Juventus. It plays both in upcoming home matches, either side of a crucial clash with Fiorentina.

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