Napoli won 2-1 in Florence, but the Viola were furious after Juan Cuadrado was incorrectly sent off for simulation.
This was a big test of the Viola’s ambitions and they were looking for a fourth straight win in all competition, while the Partenopei were eager to hold on to second place. Gonzalo Rodriguez sat out a ban with Mario Gomez, Massimo Ambrosini, Mati Fernandez and Josip Ilicic sidelined. Napoli were still missing Juan Camilo Zuniga and Miguel Angel Britos, but surprisingly rested Marek Hamsik in favour of Goran Pandev.
The hosts took the initiative early on and dominated possession, but Napoli broke the deadlock with a splendid goal. Pandev sent Higuain on the counter and his cross found a Jose Maria Callejon volley across Neto into the far corner.
Neto fingertipped a Dries Mertens free kick over the bar, but Fiorentina got the chance to get back into the game when Federico Fernandez shoved Stefan Savic as a free kick was floated in. Giuseppe Rossi stepped up and, having converted both his penalties so far this season, sent Pepe Reina the wrong way with a stuttering run-up.
Fiorentina almost turned the game around completely, as moments later Juan Cuadrado’s daisy-cutter thumped the upright with Reina beaten.
However, it was Napoli who added another goal with Mertens. The Belgian fought to win the ball between two defenders and smashed his angled drive across Neto.
Reina ran off his line to smother at Borja Valero’s feet, as Fiorentina kept possession but continued to trail.
Cuadrado was booked for simulation when going down in the box, while Rossi had penalty appeals for what he claimed was a handling offence. Rossi went down just inside the box, but the referee again waved play on, as he seemed to drag his foot.
Rossi flashed his shot across the face of goal, then Pepito forced Reina to fly in order to fingertip the curler out from the far top corner.
Christian Maggio left Napoli with 10 men for the last 10 minutes, as the foul on Ryder Matos was his second bookable offence. The Viola poured forward in a bid to get something from this match, laying siege to Reina’s goal.
Fiorentina were absolutely furious in stoppages when Gokhan Inler visibly kicked Cuadrado in the shin, but the referee flashed a second yellow card for simulation. He was doubly furious, as he’ll now be suspended for the match with Milan on Saturday.
Sent off: Maggio 80 (N), Cuadrado 91 (F)