Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Fiorentina.
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Gonzalo Higuain fired Napoli into third place in the Serie A table with a second-half winner in a 1-0 victory over Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
The Azzurri made an inconsistent start to the season but will now enjoy a week in the final Champions League berth after Higuain’s sixth league goal confirmed a second straight league win.
Fiorentina, who were strangely off-colour in front of their own fans, remain in 10th place after losing back-to-back games.
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Napoli dominated the first half but could not quite put any of their numerous chances away.
Higuain was twice thwarted by Neto in the opening exchanges before the Fiorentina goalkeeper survived a speculative attempt from Marek Hamsik.
The Tuscans’ best opportunity came in the 19th minute as Khouma Babacar took aim from outside the box and smashed the ball just over the crossbar.
Napoli suffered an unwelcome setback when Lorenzo Insigne suffered an injury – the striker was replaced by Dries Mertens – but they nevertheless soldiered on in pursuit of the opening goal.
Higuain skipped past two defenders before shooting wide and Hamsik should have done more with Jose Callejon’s dangerous cross across the six-yard box.
Fiorentina were lucky to reach the break on level terms as Callejon whipped a drive just past a post in the 44th minute. There was still time for Higuain to find the back of the net, but he was offside.
The second half took a while to get going but an exchange of chances around the hour mark breathed fresh life into the contest.