Edinson Cavani bagged a brace in Florence to secure Napoli’s morale-boosting 3-0 victory over the Viola.
Morgan De Sanctis was rested due to flu symptoms, ending his 99-match run of consecutive Serie A appearances, as Antonio Rosati stepped in. Ruben Olivera made his Viola debut, though Manuel Pasqual, Per Kroldrup, Houssine Kharja and the suspended Andrea Lazzari were out.
It took just over two minutes for Napoli to break the deadlock at the Stadio Franchi. The Three Tenors combined with Marek Hamsik threading through from Ezequiel Lavezzi for Edinson Cavani to spring the offside trap and slot past Artur Boruc.
Fiorentina replied with Marco Cassani’s well-taken volley from a Juan Manuel Vargas cross, but it flashed inches past the base of the near post.
There was a bizarre moment when Hugo Campagnaro limped off and Gianluca Grava was ready to replace him, but at the last moment the Argentine insisted he could continue. He tried for several minutes, but did eventually have to leave the field with a calf twinge.
Cavani knocked down a corner for Hamsik to nod over the bar, then from another set play Christian Maggio was left totally unmarked for his header on to the woodwork, as Fiorentina’s defending from dead ball situations was disastrous.
Fiorentina also rattled the frame of the goal from a corner, as the Vargas set play reached Cesare Natali, but the looping header cracked against the outside of the post.
The home side grew into the game during the first half and Amauri drilled off target when he perhaps should’ve set up Cassani. Moments later, Stevan Jovetic’s left-foot snapshot skimmed a coat of paint off the upright.
Napoli could’ve been 2-0 up, though, as a set play found Miguel Angel Britos at the far post and he somehow volleyed wide from point-blank range. Amauri was flagged offside in an extremely tight decision.
There was some bad news for Napoli, as Hamsik picked up a yellow card, which means he’ll be suspended against Inter. Valon Behrami was replaced at half-time after needing treatment for a cut lip.
Napoli doubled their lead 10 minutes after the restart with another Cavani strike. El Matador sprung the offside trap when he ran on to a Hamsik through ball, as Cassani was keeping everyone in play, then beat Boruc at the near post, surprising the goalkeeper.
It should’ve been 3-0 on 62 minutes when Cavani’s cross-field pass found Lavezzi, who skipped between Nastasic and Vargas only to be denied by a Boruc reaction save.
A Britos defensive header threatened causing an own goal from Riccardo Montolivo’s free kick. Amauri and then Jovetic had shots charged down in the box during the same move. Alessio Cerci came off the bench, but nodded over from a promising position.
Napoli also went close to a fourth in stoppages, but Boruc beat away Goran Pandev’s strike with his foot and Lavezzi turned the rebound off target.
Lavezzi did get it in the net moments later with a classic counter-attack, skipping past Salifu to squeeze his shot in at the near post.