Napoli have fallen four points behind leaders Juventus, as Giovanni Simeone’s hat-trick gave Fiorentina victory after Kalidou Koulibaly’s red card.
The pressure was back on the Partenopei to keep the Scudetto race alive, as after beating Juventus in Turin with a Koulibaly header, they saw the Bianconeri fight back for a 3-2 victory at Inter last night, temporarily increasing the gap to four points. The hosts still had a slim chance of making it into Europe, but had to do without Vitor Hugo and suspended Bryan Dabo.
The Viola have won only one of their last 15 Serie A meetings with Napoli, home and away, drawing seven and losing seven. That lone result was 1-0 at the San Paolo in March 2014. The Southerners were unbeaten at the Stadio Franchi since January 2009, emerging with four wins and as many stalemates.
The talking points started practically immediately, as Giovanni Simeone ran on to a long ball, in his attempt to clear the ball, Kalidou Koulibaly only kicked the player. At first, the referee awarded a penalty and booked the defender, but VAR confirmed the challenge was outside the area, so it was changed to a free kick and a straight red for preventing a clear scoring opportunity. It was quite a turnaround just seven days since the Senegal international scored the winner against Juve.
Maurizio Sarri was nervously chewing an unlit cigarette on the touchline and replaced Jorginho with Lorenzo Tonelli.
Jordan Veretout curled a free kick over the bar and Mario Rui almost surprised Marco Sportiello directly from a corner, while Lorenzo Insigne hit a fresh air volley.
Fiorentina took the lead when Simeone was wide awake on a loose Cristiano Biraghi ball hoofed forward and nutmegged the on-rushing Pepe Reina.
Moments later, it was almost 2-0, but Marco Benassi over-hit the cross-shot past Simeone, while Reina rushed out to block Federico Chiesa’s path and the Viola man accidentally landed on him.
Marco Sportiello smothered a Dries Mertens volley, but the Belgian was anonymous and replaced by Arkadiusz Milik.
Reina flew to fingertip away a Chiesa toe-poke and there were appeals for a penalty, but the ball struck Albiol’s body first and then hit his hand on the ricochet.
On the resulting corner, Napoli’s defending was static and it ricocheted off Elseid Hysaj’s hip, Reina parried with a leg, but Simeone was quickest to react on the rebound for 2-0.
Allan was the last to give in, but the Partenopei seemed exhausted and low on confidence. Simeone completed his hat-trick with the last kick of the game, running on to a through ball, shrugging off Mario Rui and placing the angled drive past Reina.
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