NEWS
Saturday May 3 2014
Coppa: Insigne brace downs Viola

Lorenzo Insigne’s brace and Dries Mertens saw 10-man Napoli beat Fiorentina 3-1 and lift the Coppa Italia trophy for the second time in three years.

This was the Viola’s first Final since 2001, when they beat Parma and suffered bankruptcy soon after, while the Partenopei had already lifted the trophy in 2012. Mario Gomez was out of action and Juan Cuadrado suspended, but Giuseppe Rossi returned to the bench for the first time since damaging knee ligaments on January 5. Vincenzo Montella opted for a strikerless system with Borja Valero as a False Nine. Gonzalo Higuain was able to start despite a badly bruised right shin with Christian Maggio in the squad after emergency surgery for a collapsed lung in February.

The game had been due to kick off at 20.00 UK time, but started at 20.45 after authorities and captain Marek Hamsik reassured Napoli ultras that three people shot outside the stadium were alive and the incident was unrelated to football. 

The Partenopei had a great chance in the opening minutes when a corner found Higuain, but Neto and Borja Valero managed to scramble it off the line from point-blank range.

Fiorentina paid for a classic counter-attack on the opening goal, as Hamsik threaded through for Lorenzo Insigne’s splendid right-foot curler in off the inside of the far post.

Jose Callejon burst down the left and rolled in a low cross for Higuain, so Gonzalo Rodriguez came sliding to intercept and very narrowly avoided scoring an own goal.

It was another rapid counter-attack to double the lead from a Juan Manuel Vargas error, as this time Higuain rolled his pass across from the right and it went past Hamsik, but found Insigne for a shot that struck Nenad Tomovic to loop over the helpless Neto. Insigne was the only Italian in the line-up and the only Neapolitan, while he hoped to impress Azzurri Coach Cesare Prandelli in the stands.

Gokhan Inler and Borja Valero blasted just over from distance, but the Viola did get back into the game before the half-hour mark. Vargas sprung the offside trap on a Josip Ilicic through ball and let it bounce for a fierce left-foot half-volley on the edge of the box. Pepe Reina wanted the flag and watched it sail into the near bottom corner.

Joaquin was halted by an extremely close offside decision, but his lob had gone over the bar anyway, while Higuain drilled straight at Neto as Fiorentina started to get a lot more of the ball.

In the last move of the first half, Ilicic curled in a free kick for Alberto Aquilani to turn in, but the goal was ruled offside in another incredibly close decision.

Montella’s men continued to keep possession after the break as Napoli sat back and hoped to strike on the counter. Goran Pandev replaced Higuain, who was limping after that heavy bruise to the tibia.

Pepe Reina needed a fingertip save to turn a Mati Fernandez screamer out from under the bar.

Fiorentina fans went wild as Giuseppe Rossi was introduced, making his comeback after four months out with a knee ligament injury.

Pandev sprung the offside trap and tried to flick it past Neto with the outside of the boot, but the goalkeeper stood his ground and was able to block.

Inler was fortunate not to receive a second yellow card on 75 minutes for his clumsy challenge on Mati Fernandez. The Swiss international didn’t heed the warning, as moments later he went through the back of Ilicic and was sent off, leaving Napoli with 10 men.

Alessandro Matri was thrown on too and immediately pounced on an error to thread through for Ilicic, who incredibly chipped wide of the far post with only Reina to beat from 10 yards. The Slovenian crumpled to the ground, aware of what an important miss that was.

Matri spun round to fire off target, as did Mati Fernandez from distance, but Fiorentina were unable to find the breakthrough in five minutes of stoppages.

Instead, a lucky ricochet sparked a counter and Dries Mertens kept his cool to smash an angled drive under Neto. Despite that late blow, the Fiorentina fans in the Curva Sud raised their flags and scarves in the final minutes, thanking the team for this performance.

Fiorentina 1-3 Napoli

Scorers: Insigne 11, 17 (N), Vargas 28 (F), Mertens 93 (N)

Fiorentina: Neto; Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Savic, Pasqual (Mati Fernandez 56); Pizarro, Aquilani (Matri 83), Vargas; Joaquin (Rossi 72), Borja Valero, Ilicic

Napoli: Reina; Henrique, Fernandez, Raul Albiol, Ghoulam; Jorginho, Inler; Insigne (Behrami 81), Hamsik (Mertens 63), Callejon; Higuain (Pandev 70)

Ref: Orsato

Sent off: Inler 79 (N)

Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!

FOOTBALL ITALIA RELATED NEWS

TODAY'S FRONT PAGES