Rome: Ten-man Napoli overcame dramatic scenes prior to kick-off at the Olympic Stadium to claim their second Italian Cup trophy in three years thanks to a 3-1 win over Fiorentina on Saturday.
Violence marred the lead-up to the final with unconfirmed reports that at least four fans had been taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.
Hard-line ‘ultra’ fans of Napoli, many of whom threw rocket flares towards the pitch, even ordered the Serie ‘A’ giants not to play after rumours spread that one of their supporters had been shot.
Following discussions between Napoli captain Marek Hamsik and an ‘ultra’ leader, the match eventually kicked off 45 minutes later than scheduled.
Fiorentina ’keeper Neto was given the all-clear despite suffering a finger injury last week while Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi made his return on the bench following his recent recovery from a knee injury.
With no designated striker, Fiorentina started, on paper at least, with a disadvantage which became apparent inside the first 16 minutes when Lorenzo Insigne scored twice to give Napoli a 2-0 lead, his first a sublime curling shot which crept inside Neto’s far post after Hamsik’s superb lay-off.
Fiorentina’s defence was almost caught unawares soon after, with Borja Valero clearing Gonzalo Higuain’s attempted tap-in from a corner off the line. Higuain was denied moments later again.
Napoli clearly had the momentum and were rewarded on 16 minutes when Insigne trailed in late to meet a cross from Higuain after his run down the right, the Italian beating Neto with a shot which deflected off Nenad Tomovic.
“He should be going to the World Cup,” said Napoli coach Rafael Benitez when asked about Insigne’s chances for Brazil....