Ten-man Napoli slumped to a 1-0 home defeat to Fiorentina on Sunday, in a topsy turvy game they could've easily won. The Neapolitans were dominant throughout the opening exchanges, until a red card for defender Faouzi Ghoulam shortly before halftime allowed the visitors to take control, and eventually take the lead.
That Fiorentina even had the opportunity to go in front in the second half was all thanks to their young goalkeeper Neto, who was the game's top performer in the first period. He was on hand to tip Gonzalo Higuaín's volley around the post in the opening ten minutes, before getting down to make a close-range stop on Marek Hamšík soon after.
Still, it looked only a matter of time before Napoli finally hit the back of the net, before the complexion of the match was changed by a red card eight minutes from halftime. Juan Cuadrado burst towards goal in a rare Fiorentina foray forward, only to be tripped by left-back Faouzi Ghoulam. The Algerian was swiftly ejected, and suddenly things looked completely different.
Fiorentina unsurprisingly came out after the second half in the ascendency, with Napoli reduced to rare counter-attacks and Gonzalo Higuaín looking ever more isolated up top. However, the viola struggled to break a determined Napoli down, with Benítez having reshuffled his team into two sturdy banks of four at the halftime break.
The two best chances of the game fell to Fiorentina substitute Alessandro Matri, though true to tradition, he squandered them both. The first came from a corner with just over 15 minutes remaining, with the striker scuffing his shot from close-range and allowing Pepe Reina to make a comfortable save on the line. The second followed moments later after some excellent wing play from Joaquín, though it was all undone by Matri's wayward header.
However, Matri's embarrassment was spared by a dramatic winning goal from Joaquín with just a couple of minutes of the regulation 90 remaining. Goalkeeper Reina was caught out in no man's land by Manuel Pasqual's deep cross, which was duly headed into an empty net by the Spanish winger.
Napoli's hopes of finishing second are fading fast, while Fiorentina move a step closer to consolidating fourth place.
Napoli: Reina; Ghoulam, Albiol, Henrique, Réveillère; Inler, Jorginho; Insigne (Mertens 75' [Pandev 85']), Hamšík, Callejón; Higuaín (Behrami 80').
Red cards: Ghoulam (37').
Fiorentina: Neto; Pasqual, Savić, Rodríguez, Roncaglia (Vargas 71'); Borja Valero, Aquilani, Bakić (Iličić 46'); Cuadrado, Gómez (Matri 73'), Joaquín.
Goals: Joaquín (88').