Fiorentina 1-1 Napoli: Spoils shared in action shy fixture

Napoli waste opportunity to reduce the gap with Juventus and are only able to get a draw in their visit to Florence

Fiorentina 1-1 Napoli: Spoils shared in action shy fixture
Higuaín celebrates his goal (Playbuzz)

Fiorentina and Napoli faced each other in which was undoubtedy the biggest fixture of the round in Serie A. The match was postponed to Monday given both teams played during the past week in the Europa League, both suffering the same fate which was elimination from the competition. The Partenopei only drew 1-1 at home against Villareal after losing away in the first leg and the Viola suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat in White Hart Lane against Tottenham after only managing to draw in Italy the week before.

For these reasons this was a huge match for both to get back on track in the league, especially since they were facing a direct rival. Napoli hadn’t won any of their last four games, after failing to get a win against Juventus and Milan in their last Serie A fixtures, aside from their aforementioned games against Villareal, and needed the three points to put pressure on Juventus that had beaten Inter on Sunday and were four points clear at the top.

Fiorentina were one point behind Roma, that had also won during the weekend, and needed to win to sit in third place alone and put pressure on Napoli for the second spot. The hosts were unbeaten in the past six Serie A games and were starting to show again the form that took them to top of the table back in October.

Fiorentina out the blocks fast

The match started as it was expected with both teams attacking and looking for a goal right from the beginning. It was Fiorentina that started better and was playing in the opposite half more often than not. It didn’t take them long to get the lead, as Marcos Alonso struck a terrific header past Pepe Reina in the fifth minute. Celebrations didn’t last long for the hosts however, since only a few seconds later Gonzalo Higuaín scored for Napoli after a very poor clearance from Alonso, that had given his team the lead only seconds before, fall on his feet and the Argentinean only had to push the ball towards the empty goal.

The rest of the first half didn’t have any other goals but was thrilling nonetheless, with the hosts hitting the woodwork twice. First it was Nikola Kalinic that took advantage from Napoli’s poor defending and was able to find himself one on one with Pepe Reina but was denied by the post. Only minutes later Cristian Tello made a great move inside the penalty area, but also failed to give his team the lead again hitting the post from just outside the goal box.   

Tatarusanu saves Fiorentina from late defeat

The second half would have less scoring opportunities, with Fiorentina’s level declining and Napoli growing in confidence. It was the visitors who had the best chances to score again during that half, but were denied twice by Ciprian Tatarusanu. Fiorentina’s goalkeeper made a fantastic double save on José Callejon and Higuaín first and then denied Lorenzo Insigne in the dying seconds of the game.

The draw is not a great result for any time, as Napoli now sits three points away from Juventus and Fiorentina couldn’t surpass Roma in the quest for 3rd place (both teams are now tied five points behind Napoli). The Romanese themselves are probably the biggest winners with this result as neither Napoli or Fiorentina got out of reach and are back fighting for a Champions League spot.