Napoli were held to a 1-1 draw by Fiorentina after Edinson Cavani’s 100th Serie A goal wiped out a bizarre Morgan De Sanctis howler.
The Viola had lost all three of their games in 2013, including the Coppa Italia quarter-final in extra time against Roma on Wednesday night. On the other hand, Napoli were brimming with confidence after they had two points restored and six-month bans for Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava quashed in an appeal against the betting scandal verdicts. They were both on the bench, while David Pizarro was unable to start for the Viola, making way for Romulo.
Fiorentina haven’t won this fixture since 2009, registering a draw and two defeats. An early counter-attack was wasted when Goran Pandev scuffed his finish.
The Stadio Franchi crowd was furious when Luca Toni fell to the ground during a tussle with Miguel Angel Britos, but replays showed it was Toni who was pushing the Napoli player down.
Romulo blasted wide on the counter instead of passing to an unmarked Stevan Jovetic. It was a very tense encounter with five yellow cards in the opening half-hour.
Manuel Pasqual aimed a long-range free kick that curled just past the near top corner. The goal did arrive soon after, but in utterly bizarre fashion.
Facundo Roncaglia aimed a long pass from the halfway line for Toni, but Morgan De Sanctis completely misjudged the flight of the ball and rushed out, seeing it bounce over him into an empty net! The Fiorentina defender seemed almost apologetic, as he had certainly not intended that as a shot on goal.
Neto sprinted off his line to smother at Edinson Cavani’s feet on the counter, then Alessandro Gamberini needed a sliding tackle in the box to stop Juan Cuadrado.
Cavani’s free kick was straight into the arms of Neto, but El Matador did draw level before the break with his 100th Serie A goal. It was a Marek Hamsik free kick from the touchline and Cavani rose for a glancing header. Curiously, he also scored his first top flight goal against the Viola.
De Sanctis almost gave away another goal 30 seconds later, as this time he hesitated coming out to help Hugo Campagnaro and Toni pounced, but the goalkeeper managed to parry with his body from point-blank range.
Valon Behrami crucially intercepted a Jovetic through ball that was sending Toni clear in first half stoppages. Toni got another chance, getting in front of his marker to volley over the bar.
Behrami had already been booked and ran a huge risk of a second card when tripping Cuadrado. Walter Mazzarri took the hint and substituted the ex-Fiorentina midfielder.
Neto smothered a Cavani angled drive at the base of the near post, as did De Sanctis on a long-range Aquilani effort. Hamsik just failed to get his mohican to a dangerous Gokhan Inler cross and Campagnaro crucially intercepted a cross before Toni could nod in at the back post.
Napoli seemed more dangerous now, understandably as Fiorentina went to extra time in the Coppa Italia against Roma on Wednesday night. The visitors introduced Lorenzo Insigne for defender Gamberini, pushing Christian Maggio back into a four-man defence.
Neto flew to palm an Inler curler away from the far post, then the goalkeeper came flying out of his area to clear an inspired Hamsik ball for Cavani on the counter.
Neto performed a stunning reaction save from point-blank range on Goran Pandev’s header, proving why he is picked ahead of Emiliano Viviano.
In stoppages a Jovetic volley flashed across the face of goal, but the defenders calculated correctly by getting out of the way as it whistled past the far post.
Aquilani had the chance to win it deep into injury time, but ballooned over the bar from a smart Cuadrado cut-back to the edge of the box.