SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 37 - 20 May 2017 (19.45 UK)
Napoli 4 - 1 Fiorentina
Koulibaly 8 (N), Insigne 36 (N), Mertens 56, 64 (N), Ilicic 60 (F)
Stadio San Paolo

Napoli ran riot in their final home game of the season, crushing Fiorentina 4-1 with a Dries Mertens brace, Lorenzo Insigne and Kalidou Koulibaly.

The Partenopei needed a victory to maintain the pressure on Roma in second, but knew full well that after today’s 5-3 win at Chievo, their chances of taking second place were extremely slim. The gap remains one point going into the final round.

Allan and Nikola Maksimovic were injured, so Piotr Zielinski started on his birthday. Borja Valero and Davide Astori were suspended for the visitors with Carlos Sanchez injured, but Gonzalo Rodriguez returned from his ban.

In the reverse fixture, it ended 3-3, but a month later Napoli eliminated Fiorentina from the Coppa Italia quarter-finals with a 1-0 result. The Viola haven’t beaten the Partenopei since a 1-0 here in March 2014, followed by two draws from eight meetings.

Mertens should’ve scored after four minutes, but hit a fresh-air volley when left unmarked on a Faouzi Ghoulam corner. Poor Fiorentina marking was in evidence again soon after, as Ciprian Tatarusanu beat away the Marek Hamsik free header, but could do nothing on Kalidou Koulibaly’s follow-up.

Mertens sprung the offside trap and sprinted forward, but Tatarusanu did well to stand tall to the last second and the Belgian narrowed the angle too much, hitting the side-netting.

Mertens was rather unlucky soon after, as his sensational curler left Tatarusanu stranded, but bounced off the top of the upright. Nobody was ready to tap in Elseid Hysaj’s ball across the face of goal, then Pepe Reina did well to fingertip a deflected Josip Ilicic strike round the far post.

Lorenzo Insigne also fired wide from distance, but Napoli doubled their lead when Zielinski caught Sebastian Cristoforo in possession, Mertens immediately threaded through for Insigne to drill into the near bottom corner.

The hosts seemed a little too comfortable after the restart, but scored against the run of play thanks to a howler from Tatarusanu. The goalkeeper flapped at an Insigne knock-on header from a corner and it fell kindly for Mertens to tap in from point-blank range.

Moments later, Fiorentina did get one back, as Cristian Tello burst down the left and his pull-back found Ilicic to sweep home from just inside the area.

Federico Bernardeschi’s snapshot flashed across just wide, but Napoli struck with a well-worked team effort. Mertens nutmegged Gonzalo Rodriguez, gave a no-look pass to Marek Hamsik and when the shot was beaten away at full stretch, the Belgian was first on the rebound.

The Viola would not give in and Reina needed a double save on Tello’s curler from outside the box and a deflected Ilicic strike moments later.

Callejon was excessively generous, as after a stunning first touch on Insigne’s pass over the top, he rolled it back to Marko Rog and the finish was charged down.

Khouma Babacar sprung the offside trap near the centre-circle, but was denied by Reina’s legs at the near post. Gonzalo Rodriguez also needed a crucial interception to stop Leonardo Pavoletti meeting a Koulibaly low cross.

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Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Zielinski, Jorginho (Diawara 69), Hamsik (Rog 65); Callejon, Mertens (Pavoletti 79), Insigne
Fiorentina: Tatarusanu; Gonzalo Rodriguez, Tomovic, De Maio, Maxi Olivera (Babacar 54); Vecino, Badelj; Ilicic, Cristoforo (Tello 54), Bernardeschi; Kalinic (Saponara 81)
Ref: Rizzoli