Gonzalo Higuain snatched a 1-0 win for Napoli, but Fiorentina were denied by the woodwork and a goalline clearance.
This was a head-to-head for European places, though the Viola were already quite a way off the hot spots as the injury crisis took its toll. Giuseppe Rossi and Federico Bernardeschi are out until well into 2015, while the Partenopei were fired up after beating Roma and Young Boys over the past week. Marek Hamsik shook off flu symptoms to start and Jose Callejon was confident following his debut Spain call-up.
Gonzalo Higuain had the first chance after six minutes, drilling inches wide of the upright, then Lorenzo Insigne curled off target from distance and forced a save out of Norberto Neto.
Khouma Babacar went extremely close on 18 minutes, his scorching strike clipping the top of the crossbar.
There were worrying scenes when Insigne landed badly to sprain his knee and had to be helped off the field almost in tears.
Higuain went on a mazy run through a host of defenders and the finish was dinked over Neto, but just wide of the far post.
Mati Fernandez’s shot was charged down, as did Hamsik and Dries Mertens at the other end. Jose Callejon blasted over from a promising position down the right.
Higuain got the ball in the net with a spectacular volley from six yards at an angle, but he was correctly flagged offside. In stoppages Borja Valero went on the counter, but Josip Ilicic’s finishing was woeful.
Ilicic moved to a more central role for the second half and the switch improved Fiorentina, but a sustained period of pressure failed to produce a goal and the home fans jeered as time wore on.
Cuadrado had a fantastic chance on 58 minutes, his curling effort fingertipped round the base of the upright. From that corner, Napoli went on the counter and Neto needed a desperate one-handed save to deny Hamsik one-on-one.
Napoli did take the lead soon after. Nenad Tomovic slipped when trying to clear a Christian Maggio cross, allowing Higuain to blast under the bar from 10 yards. Pipita has now found the net in each of his last four Serie A outings.
The Viola continued to have more of the ball, but did little with it, as Cuadrado hit the side-netting and David Pizarro’s shot was charged down. Mario Gomez’s terrible luck continued, as his splendid header turned a Cuadrado cross on to the bar with Rafael beaten.
Higuain wasted the chance to make it 2-0, ballooning over Jonathan de Guzman’s assist, but Fiorentina dominated the final stages and Raul Albiol bravely charged down another effort in the box.
Kalidou Koulibaly needed a goalline clearance in stoppages to deny Manuel Pasqual, whose angled drive had squirmed through a sea of legs.
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