Fiorentina beat nine-man Napoli in Italian Cup thriller

Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi celebrates after scoring against Napoli in the Italian Cup at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Napoli January 13, 2022. — Reuters pic
Fiorentina’s Cristiano Biraghi celebrates after scoring against Napoli in the Italian Cup at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Napoli January 13, 2022. — Reuters pic

MILAN, Jan 14 — Fiorentina saw off nine-man Napoli 5-2 in extra time on Thursday to reach the Italian Cup quarter-finals in a dramatic match which saw three red cards.

It is the eighth time in 10 seasons that Fiorentina have made the Cup quarters.

Dusan Vlahovic, who has been heavily linked with a move away from Florence, put the visitors ahead with his 19th goal of the season four minutes before half-time, as the game burst into life.

Napoli winger Dries Mertens levelled just three minutes later, before Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski was sent off for a cynical block on Elif Elmas as the Macedonian looked to take advantage of a defensive mix-up.

But the 10 men restored their lead in the 58th minute as Italy left-back Cristiano Biraghi pounced on a rebound inside the box to score.

Napoli also had a man dismissed, as substitute Hirving Lozano was shown a straight red card after a VAR review.

The hosts’ tempers boiled over further in stoppage time, with another sub, Fabian Ruiz, given his marching orders for a second booking.

But just seconds later, Napoli’s Andrea Petagna slotted in a remarkable equaliser to force extra time.

Fiorentina made their man advantage count, though, as Lorenzo Venuti and Krzysztof Piatek netted either side of half-time in extra time.

Moroccan Youssef Maleh added a fifth as his side eased into a last-eight clash with Atalanta, who beat Venezia 2-0 on Wednesday.

Later Thursday, AC Milan host Genoa, with the other five last-16 ties to be played next week. — AFP