Fiorentina vs. Napoli: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

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Fiorentina vs. Napoli: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

Lorenzo Insigne scored a first-half double as Napoli defeated Fiorentina 3-1 on Saturday in the Coppa Italia final Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. 

Insigne struck in the 11th and 17th minutes, finishing off a pair of swift team moves as Napoli caught Fiorentina on the counter. Juan Vargas pulled one back for Fiorentina in the 28th minute and Josip Ilicic missed a clear chance to equalise five minutes from time. Substitute Dries Mertens then sealed the victory with Napoli's third in the stoppage time. 

Napoli finished the match with 10 men after Gokhan Inler was sent off in the second half for his second bookable offence.

Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

This was Napoli's fifth Coppa Italia title and second in three years following the 2012 triumph under then-manager Walter Mazzarri.

That only two players in Saturday's starting 11 remained from that 2012 cup-winning side illustrated the extent to which Napoli's squad has changed in the past two seasons. The victory itself underlined the club's desire to secure future success.

New manager Rafa Benitez oversaw a shopping spree last summer that cost nearly £80 million, according to the Daily Mail. And with his squad all but certain of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League via their Serie A finish, Benitez will likely look to continue building his squad ahead of next season.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, are currently fourth in Italy's top flight, eight points behind Napoli with three matches to play. The Viola almost certainly will not qualify for the Champions League via Serie A, but have already secured a spot in next season's Europa League as Coppa Italia runners-up.

Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

The match was delayed approximately 45 minutes following an incident of violence in Rome. According to Italian media reports cited by Rob Harris of the Associated Press, "at least one fan and one police officer" were shot in clashes away from the stadium in an area where Napoli fans were assembling before the match. Per the AP report, there was also violence inside the stadium as a firefighter was struck by a flare from the stands.

Once the match started following the long delay, the fans at the Stadio Olimpico were treated to an open match of attacking football, as noted by @beINSPORTSUSA.

The match's first chance fell to Napoli in the sixth minute as Insigne cut in from the left and fired toward the near post, where Neto tipped the ball around the post. From the resulting corner, Borja Valero cleared off the line after Gonzalo Higuain redirected the ball on target. 

The opening goal came five minutes later as Napoli hit Fiorentina with a lethal counter. Marek Hamsik led the move, dribbling from deep in Napoli's half to the edge of Fiorentina's box, where he laid off for Insigne. With his first touch, Insigne curled a picturesque shot around Neto and into the net off the inside of the far post for a 1-0 Napoli advantage.

Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

Napoli came close to a second in the 15th minute as Jose Callejon crossed dangerously from the right for Higuain. The latter nearly made contact, but instead Fiorentina defender Gonzalo Rodriguez redirected the ball around the post.

It was only a momentary let-off for Fiorentina, though. Two more minutes later, Napoli doubled their advantage with another quick counter. Higuain led the break this time, powering down the right before rolling a pass across the box into the path of Insigne's late run. Insigne finished with his first touch again, the ball deflecting in off Fiorentina defender Nenad Tomovic. 

Napoli were flying, but Fiorentina had a sight of goal in the 25th minute, when Valero rifled a long-distance shot over the bar. At the other end, Callejon blazed a low effort wide of the far post one minute later.

Vargas' goal in the 28th minute gave Fiorentina a foothold, but Napoli had another good chance at the other end in the 39th minute, Higuain firing straight at Neto. The Viola thought they had pulled level in the 45th minute via Alberto Aquilani's volleyed finish from an Ilicic free-kick, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Trailing 2-1 at half-time, Fiorentina pushed for the equaliser throughout the second half. Ilicic shot off target in the 64th minute and Matias Fernandez forced a fingertip save from Reina eight minutes later.

Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

At the other end, Goran Pandev nearly scored Napoli's third in the 74th minute after latching onto Mertens' angled pass. But Neto saved one-on-one to keep Fiorentina within a single goal.

Napoli went down to 10 men in the 79th minute with Inler receiving his second yellow card—and subsequent red—for a foul on Ilicic. Five minutes later, Fiorentina had a clear chance to equalise as substitute Alessandro Matri freed Ilicic with a defence-splitting pass. But with only the onrushing Reina to beat, Ilicic lifted his shot wide of the far post.

It turned out to be a costly miss. In the second minute of stoppage time, Mertens sealed Napoli's victory with a clinical, low finish from Callejon's pass.

 

Grades

Fiorentina Player Ratings
Starting XI Half-Time Full-Time
Neto 6 6
Nenad Tomovic 6 6
Gonzalo Rodriguez 6 6
Stefan Savic 5 6
Manuel Pasqual 6 5
David Pizarro 7 6
Alberto Aquilani 6 6
Juan Vargas 7 7
Joaquin 5 5
Borja Valero 6 6
Josip Ilicic 6 5
Substitutes Half-Time Full-Time
Matias Fernandez (for Pasqual, 56') N/A 6
Giuseppe Rossi (for Joaquin, 72') N/A 5
Alessandro Matri (for Aquilani, 83') N/A 5

B/R UK

Napoli Player Ratings
Starting XI Half-Time Full-Time
Pepe Reina 7 7
Henrique 7 7
Federico Fernandez 7 8
Raul Albiol 7 8
Faouzi Ghoulam 6 7
Jorginho 7 8
Gokhan Inler 6 6
Lorenzo Insigne 9 8
Marek Hamsik 8 7
Jose Callejon 5 6
Gonzalo Higuain 7 6
Substitutes Half-Time Full-Time
Dries Mertens (for Hamsik, 64') N/A 7
Goran Pandev (for Higuain, 71') N/A 6
Valon Behrami (for Insigne, 81') N/A 6

B/R UK

 

Post-Match Reaction

Benitez hailed his team's performance and called the match "beautiful," telling RAI Sport (via Football Italia):

I think it was a beautiful game. We were in control at the start with 2-0 and it seemed simple, but then Fiorentina got back into it.

We could’ve got a third goal earlier, but we also worked well in defence and with 10 men did well as a team with real character.

I have always said losing wouldn’t change anything, a win would be more positive. The fans saw that the team played 100 per cent and that’s the important thing.

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik said it was a "difficult night" and said winning silverware in Benitez's first season was important. Speaking to RAI Sport (via Football Italia), he said:

It was a very difficult night. Every Final is complicated, but at the end the emotion of the victory put everything behind us,” Hamsik told Rai Sport.

We are professionals and know these things can happen. We had to concentrate on the field and that’s all that matters.

In previous years I played in a deeper role, but I still need to learn and improve in this position.

 

Up Next

Both teams return to Serie A with home matches on Tuesday, when Fiorentina play Sassuolo and Napoli face Cagliari

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