Napoli 3-0 Fiorentina:
I Partenopei secured a crucial 3-0 victory at the Stadio San Paolo to push further up the table in the hunt for a Champions League spot next season. The Neapolitan side were clinical and ruthless, shutting out the Fiorentina offense and scoring when it mattered most.
Despite losing in its last five outings, Napoli has recovered. With the season starting to draw to a close, Napoli needed to get back in form and push for an important Champions League spot. With Roma collapsing in the second half of the season, the top of the table was now wide open for Napoli to make a run for it. Meanwhile, Fiorentina have had a resurgence in the past month due to the winter transfer window signing of Mohammad Salah. The Egyptian forward has been a breath of life to a squad without many attacking options after losing both Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez for extended periods of time. With big victories in the Europa League and Coppa Italia, Salah has certainly been a revelation for the Florence based side.
Napoli forward Dres Mertens opened up the scoring midway through the first half with a shot from outside the box. The Belgian forward dribbled to find space and curled a perfectly placed shot into the back of the net leaving Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto with no chance. The Neapolitans doubled their lead early in the second half with a great exchange between Callejon and Hamsik. The ex-Madrid forward crossed a ball into the near post where Hamsik made no mistake in finishing off the play. Throughout the game, Napoli continually denied Fiorentina any opportunity to get back in the match. Salah in particular was unable to make any impact on the run of play. A goal from Callejon late in the match secured a crucial three points for Napoli, pushing them up to fourth place in the league.
Parma 1-0 Juventus:
Last placed Parma shocked reigning champions Juventus at the Ennio Tardini despite the club recently declaring bankruptcy. Even though Parma has been unable to pay the wages of its players, the club managed to grit a win against the lifeless champions.
Coming into this match, Juventus has had a near-perfect season. After winning their third straight Serie A title last season, the Turin-based side looks all but certain to make it four straight. Ex-Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri has been nothing short of spectacular this season. After inheriting his position from former manager Antonio Conte, he has exceeded all expectations by leading Juventus to the Champions League quarterfinals, the Coppa Italia finals and first place in Serie A. In contrast, Parma have had a season to forget. While this squad was competing for a Europa League spot a year ago, they now find themselves dead last with a guaranteed relegation due to filing for bankruptcy. There have been reports that the club has not paid any of its players during the season and one rumour that their youth team has been unable to afford hot water for the team shower.
Despite no one believing in them, Parma managed to do the unthinkable. It was clear that Allegri was resting for Juventus’ upcoming midweek clash with Monaco and Parma were able to make the most out of this. Throughout the match, Juventus were unable to make the most of their chances as they took 19 shots but weren’t able capitalize. Parma was able to hang on throughout the match and when the opportunity came, they were clinical. After receiving a pass on the outside of the box, Parma youngster Jose Mauri scored a stunner from outside the box, powering it past Storari and sending the Parma Ultras into raptures. The match finished 1-0, completing a dream match with the unlikeliest of finishes. Even though this win won’t mean anything in the table, it is certainly a heartwarming win.
Jose Mauri celebrates the lone goal of the match against Juventus. AP Photo/ Serena Campanini