In the penultimate game of the Serie A season, Fiorentina who traveled to Naples made four changes, following the win last week to Lazio. It's the familiar 3-4-2-1 system for La Viola with Kalinic back in the starting lineup after his brilliant substitute appearance last week. Badelj makes a surprising appearance after his recent injury fears. Capitan Gonzalo and Ilicic also come into the side for Astori and Valero respectively. Napoli still chasing second place, line up with the usual 4-3-3, with the devastating trio of Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne.
Napoli dominated the possession to early on and set the fast paced tone to the game. The Neapolitans from the off displayed their high pressing style which resulted in the opening goal only 8 minutes in.
From a corner, Marek Hamisk was wide open with a free header and forced Tata into a smart stop. However, Kalidou Koulibaly beat Matias Vecino to the ball and tapped it home to give the home side the lead.
Fiorentina were still asleep, they hadn't woken up and struggling to string any passes together. It certainly looked like it could be a long night for the away side.
Somehow on 18 minutes it wasn't 2-0 to Napoli. After sloppy midfield play, Mertens was sent clean through on goal by Jorginho, as De Maio was caught napping. The Belgian seemed to have rounded Tatarasanu but somehow fired wide. The Romanian in goal just did enough to put off Mertens who looked like he couldn't miss.
Napoli fans must have been wondering how their team hadn't already ran away with the game. The Viola defence foolishly let Mertens free 25 yards out who curled an effort towards goal only to see it clip the post, as left Tatarasanu rooted to the spot.
It took until the half hour mark for Fiorentina to show any signs of life. Josip Ilicic caused Pepe Reina into a fantastic save. The Slovenian's deflected effort forced the Spaniard into a smart stop to his right to deny, what have been a totally undeserved equalizer.
As Fiorentina were beginning to get a foothold into the game, Napoli struck. Lorenzo Insigne with a brilliant finish as he deceived Tata who dove the wrong way. It was another goal from being disposed in midfield. Mertens slipped through Insinge for his 19th goal of the campaign.
It did seem a controversial goal at the time as the Viola players appealed for a foul in the build up on Zelinski. However, replays suggested the referee made the correct call.
As the first half came to a close, it was pretty much complete domination from Napoli. Barring a five minute period from The Viola, leaving Paulo Sousa with a big team talk if his side wanted to get back into this one.
Fiorentina began the second half with greater intensity although this wasn't saying much as it couldn't have been worse. The likes of Vecino and Badelj looked to press higher and start the attacks which their counterparts; Zelinski and Jorginho had done so well in the opening 45.
It didn't take long for Sousa to mix things up Babacar and Tello were introduced for Christoforo and Olivera 54 minutes in. A bold move by the Viola boss only eight minutes into the half.
57 minutes into the game, and it was effectively game over. The third goal was such a significant goal in the game and from a nothing corner, Tatarasanu completely missed his punch and the ball fell kindly for Mertens, who simply couldn't miss. An awful moment for the Romanian who certainly won't want to see that one again.
However, minutes later substitute Tello showed his brilliant pace and played in a great ball in to Ilicic who expertly placed into the corner. It was game on again at the San Paolo.
The Viola had sparked into life, Ilicic who had been having a fine game almost doubled his tally as his attempt just flashed wide of the far post. Not only had Viola sparked into life the game had as a result, both sides were going all out attack.
Napoli, seemed overjoyed at Fiorentina's sudden attacking intent and Dries Mertens showed how much of a fantastic player he is. He embarrassed Gonzalo as he slipped it through his legs. And after laying it off to Hamsik, whose shot was parried by Tatarasanu. Mertens was quickest off the mark to tap home to make it 4-1. In truth the Belgian striker should have had about 4 to himself.
Fiorentina continued to attack however. Ilicic and Tello were both denied by Pepe Reina in the space of two minutes. Reina, had a fine game and made some great stops throughout the game.
Fiorentina were playing into Napoli's hands, the speed of the Gli Azzurri front three was devastating and Callejon should have added a fifth. But, only to be defined by Tata who came racing out to meet the Spaniard who should have squared it.
Fiorentina looking for a consolation with five minutes to go should have made it 4-2 as Babacar wasn't sent through excellently by Bernardeschi who couldn't finish psat Reina.
Think every Fiorentina fan can't wait for the season to end. A new manager next season and hopefully a fresh start in Florence. Despite more attacking intent in the second half, Fiorentina were never going to get into this game. At times terrible at the back and the likes of Mertens and Insigne had a field day. 6th will be out of fiorentina's reach if Milan can beat Bologna. It's looking like a season without europe next year in Florence, to cap off a poor season.
Tatarusanu: 4- Made some very good saves, but produced a howler for Mertens second goal.
Gonzalo: 4- Hate to criticise Gonzalo, especially as his Viola career is coming to an end. However, like the rest of the defence just couldn't handle the spectacular Napoli front line.
Tomovic: 4- Ran ragged by Insigine on the right hand side of the defence.
De Maio: 4- Caught out on occasions and left Hamsik for the first goal. Great block at 3-1 but looked all over the shop at times.
Olivera: 5- Didn't have bad game, was harshly brought off early in the second half as Sousa went all out attacking.
Vecino: 5- Should have defended better for the first goal, really did struggle with Napoli's pressing and pace.
Badelj: 5- like Vecino struggled against the midfield of Napoli, and their great intensity.
Ilicic: 7- By far the best player wearing red, scored a very good goal and was the only goal threat for the away side.
Cristoforo: 5- Brought off after 57 minutes, doesn't fit into the system at all under Sousa.
Bernardeschi: 6- On the periphery of things, never really got going had a better second half, should have had an assist late on.
Kalinic: 4- Next to no impact on the game, never got involved. Was brought off for Saponara. One to forget for the Croatian.
Tello: 6- Added a spark in the second half with his pace and got a very good assist.
Babacar: 4- Should have scored late on, never really made an impact from coming on.
Saponara: N/a Barely touched the ball after coming on very late.