Straight up fireworks on Friday night as Napoli paid a visit to Fiorentina. Vincenzo Montella unleashed the youth movement, fielding Gaetano Castrovilli, Riccardo Sottil and Dusan Vlahovic together from the get-go, while Carlo Ancelotti, who could not use Arkadiuz Milik and Hirving Lozano, deployed Dries Mertens as false-nine, supported by Fabian Ruiz, José Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne, while Mario Rui was picked over Faouzi Ghoulam on the left flank. Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kostas Manolas, Pol Lirola and Erick Pulgar debuted with their respective teams.
After just nine minutes, Castrovilli tried to shake free in the box, the ball hit Piotr Zielinski’s hand and the referee awarded a penalty, which Pulgar calmly sunk. The Partenopei looked frazzled in the first half an hour and suffered the opponents’ dynamism, but Dries Mertens pulled one out of a hat after 38th minute, managing to wiggle loose on the edge of the box after a series of bad touches by Fiorentina players and curled it home and Bartlomiej Dragowski could not swat it away despite getting to it.
Four minutes later, the Azzurri complete the first comeback as Mertens cunningly stumbled on an opponent that was on the ground in the box and won a dubious penalty, which Lorenzo Insigne converted. The Gigliati clawed back into the game seven minutes after half time, as Nikola Milenkovic outjumped everybody on a corner kick and bagged it with a thumping header.
Napoli answered shortly thereafter as Insigne fed Callejon with a sharp ball on the box’s line and the Spaniard slotted it home with a surgical cross-shot just. Kevin-Prince Boateng one-upped him immediately after subbing in, as his cross-shot from a more central position gently kissed the post before crossing the goal-line, making it three-all.
However, the guests were not to be outdone as two minutes late Mertens sprung Callejon loose deep into the box and the winger linked up with Insigne, who just had to nudge it home with a header from inside the six-yard box. Napoli finally managed to lull the game into sleep with his ball possession and La Viola did not have enough energies to equalize again despite the insertion of Franck Ribery, who had a penalty claim for a tug.
Insigne played a part in all of the Partenopei’s goal and paced everybody fantasy-wise with his 12 points, followed by Erick Pulgar, who scored and assisted, and Callejon, who had the same production but was booked. Dries Mertens earned three, Boateng three and Milenkovic just one as the defense allowed multiple goals.
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