After a 2-1 comeback victory over bottom club Chievo at the weekend, Vincenzo Montella made two changes to his Fiorentina side with Facundo Roncaglia and Marvin Compper coming in for Nenad Tomović and Gonzalo Rodriguez. Ever the squad rotator, Rafa Benitez made four changes to the side that beat Torino at the weekend as Lorenzo Insigne, Marek Hamsik, Blerim Dzemaili and Pablo Armero made way for Giandomenico Mesto, Valon Behrami, Jose Callejón and Goran Pandev.
The early exchanges were dominated by Fiorentina as their midfield trio of Alberto Aquilani, David Pizarro and Borja Valero controlled the ball with a series of neat passes. Chances weren't quick to come but Juan Cuadrado did fire a warning shot, hitting the side netting from a tight angle after breaking into the penalty area.
Despite Fiorentina's early dominance, it was Napoli who drew first blood with their first attack of the match. After a swift counter, Goran Pandev played it to Gonzalo Higuaín who crossed from the left side with the outside of his right boot. Jose Callejón was waiting at the back post and sweetly volleyed the Argentine's cross low into the far corner.
After going a goal down, Fiorentina once again settled into the rhythm they had established prior to the goal, passing around their midfield trio but remaining unable to threaten the Napoli goal. However an equalizer came from a set-piece just before the half-hour mark. As David Pizarro curled a free kick into the penalty area from the right side, Federico Fernández got a little too personal with Stefan Savić, shoving the Montenegrin defender to the ground and giving the referee no choice but to award a penalty to the home side. The in-form Giuseppe Rossi stepped up and calmly sent Pepe Reina the wrong way.
The goal appeared to briefly rally Fiorentina, and not long afterwards the lively Cuadrado hit a 30-yard daisy cutter which beat Reina all ends up but came crashing back off the post.
Although Fiorentina's tails were up, it was Napoli who would go in ahead at the break from another counter attack. This time, Dries Mertens played a cute one-two with Callejón and the Belgian winger unleashed a devastatingly accurate finish right into the left-hand corner of Neto's goal.
After the break, it was business as usual with Fiorentina dominating possession but seemingly unable to fashion any meaningful chances. Rossi was, as usual, the main outlet, firing across goal from a tight angle and later unleashing a curling effort that forced Reina to claw the ball wide.
With 10 minutes to go, Napoli's job of protecting their lead against the Florentine onslaught was made a little harder as Christian Maggio was sent off for a second booking after annihilating substitute Ryder Matos with a reckless challenge on the touchline.
With a man advantage, Fiorentina huffed and puffed for the final 10 minutes but still couldn't really create any meaningful openings as Napoli edged towards a barely deserved three points. At the start of injury time, the numbers were evened up as Juan Cuadrado was sent off for a second yellow card for a second dive. The problem was that the second one wasn't a dive, as there was definite contact with Gokhan Inler inside the area. However the Colombian perhaps paid for his earlier fakery and Napoli were able to see out the final minutes on an even keel to draw only two points behind Roma, who take on bottom club Chievo tomorrow.
Fiorentina: Neto; Compper, Roncaglia, Savic, Pasqual (Vargas 83); Aquilani (Vecino 71), Pizarro, Valero; Joaquín (Matos 76), Rossi, Cuadrado
Goals: Rossi pen 28
Sent off: Cuadrado 90 +1
Napoli: Reina; Mesto, Fernández, Albiol, Maggio; Inler, Behrami; Callejón, Pandev (Armero 81), Mertens (Insigne 66); Higuaín (Hamsik 62)
Goals: Callejón 12, Mertens 36
Sent off: Maggio 80