Gonazalo Higuain’s fifth league goal of the season helped Napoli to a precious 2-1 win over Fiorentina on Sunday as Mauricio Sarri’s men moved up to fourth place in Serie A.
Napoli welcomed Fiorentina to the San Paolo looking to maintain a recent purple patch that has seen Sarri’s side remain unbeaten in their last six outings.
Fiorentina were tough customers, but after Nikola Kalinic had levelled Lorenzo Insigne’s superb opener for the hosts, Higuain struck in the 75th minute to secure Napoli’s fourth win of the campaign.
Fiorentina, conceding just their second defeat, remain top but now have just a one-point lead on Roma and two on Inter Milan, who could go top of the league if they beat Juventus in the ‘Derby d’Italia’ later Sunday.
Elsewhere, Sampdoria’s promising start came to a shuddering halt with a 2-0 defeat at Frosinone, while Lazio were stunned 2-1 away to Sassuolo.
Atalanta, meanwhile, romped to 3-0 win in Bergamo that came complete with a stunning corner kick goal from Alejandro Gomez.
Mauricio Pinilla gave the hosts a welcome eighth-minute opener after meeting Maxi Moralez’s curling delivery from the right to head past Carpi ‘keeper Vid Belec at his near post.
Belec was beaten again on the stroke of half-time in more spectacular fashion, Gomez hitting a superb corner that sneaked over the entire Carpi defence and into the far top corner.
Atalanta wrapped up the points when Luca Cigarini fired past Belec from the penalty spot on 63 minutes after Pinilla was fouled by Igor Bubnjic.
Paulo Sousa’s Fiorentina have been rightly described as one of the most stylish teams in the league and were unlucky not to snatch a share of the points at the San Paolo.
On the quarter hour Jakub Blaszczykowski brought a great one-handed save from Napoli ‘keeper Peper Reina after turning on the edge of the area to unleash a left-footed drive.
When Higuain was impeded by Milan Badelj when just about to pull the trigger minutes later, he earned a free kick that Insigne curled into the waiting arms of Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Napoli’s players surrounded the referee on the stroke of half-time to demand the expulsion of Davide Astori after the Italian defender tugged at Allan’s shirt to stop him launching an offensive down the right flank.
From the free kick, Napoli almost found the opening, Higuain heading wide of the target from Insigne’s chipped cross from the left of the area.
The deadlock was finally broken two minutes after the restart when Insigne beat Tatarusanu at his far post after running on to Marek Hamsik’s superb defence-splitting pass down the left.
Minutes later Higuain spurned the chance to double Napoli’s lead when he bundled just over from close range.
Napoli appeared to be on their way to a share of the spoils after Croatia international Kalinic, who hit a hat-trick in the 4-1 ormp over Inter, ran on to Josip Ilicic’s delivery to slot the ball past Reina down low.
But minutes later the stadium erupted when Higuain dispossessed Ilicic deep in Fiorentina territory, played a one-two with Dries Mertens and held off his marker to beat Tatarusanu down low. – Agence France-Presse