Dethroned Italian champions Napoli's hopes of playing European football next season are hanging by a thread after they played out a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina in Serie A on Friday.

Napoli took the lead in the eighth minute through defender Amir Rrahmani, who nodded home a corner by Matteo Politano.

Cristiano Biraghi levelled for Fiorentina in the 40th minute from a free-kick, before M'Bala Nzola put the hosts in front two minutes later when he fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia responded with another stunning free-kick early in the second half to rescue a point for his team.

Eighth-placed Fiorentina, on 54 points and with a game in hand, are five points behind Lazio in seventh.

They can still earn a Europa League spot either by leapfrogging the Rome side or by winning the Europa Conference League final in which they face Greece's Olympiakos on May 29.

Ninth-placed Napoli, on 52 points, still have a slim chance of making the Europa Conference League playoffs.

Data Debrief

Fiorentina left-back Biraghi has now scored six goals from direct free-kicks since the start of 2021-22, which is behind only James Ward-Prowse (seven) - now of West Ham and formerly of Southampton - as the most across Europe's top five leagues in that period.

Kvaratskhelia also levelled via a direct free-kick, making this the first Serie A match in which both teams scored via that route since Fiorentina against Lazio in April 2018 (Jordan Veretout and Luis Alberto in that case).

Napoli keeper Alex Meret saved Matteo Pessina’s second-half penalty to ensure the Serie A title-holders walked away with a point as they played out a disappointing goalless draw with Monza.

Amir Rrahmani could have given the hosts the lead after the break but wasted a free header, and while Meret made the vital stop to preserve the draw he was worryingly forced off soon after.

Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri was sent off while his side’s finishing woes were highlighted by substitute Gianluca Gaetano’s inability to find the back of the net when in acres of space just outside the six-yard box.

The visitors, who saw Mirko Maric dismissed late in stoppage time, mustered few further chances and would be happy with the point, while the hosts extended their poor run of form at the Maradona Stadium.

Mazzarri was without the suspended Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano, both of whom were sent off against Roma last time out.

Frank Anguissa had a deflected effort comfortably saved while at the other end of the pitch Meret looked on relieved when Pedro Pereira’s early attempt took a deflection before sailing narrowly past his left post.

The hosts had found a slightly stronger foothold by the halfway point in the first period but neither keeper found himself with much work to do.

Giacomo Raspadori nodded wide and Napoli were nearly ahead just before half-time, when an excellent Mario Rui cross found Anguissa in an ideal position but he was only able to direct his effort – easily the best chance of the first half – straight at keeper Michele Di Gregorio.

There was a second-half change for Raffaele Palladino with Samuele Birindelli coming on to replace Pereira, who had been booked, with Napoli wasting an early free-kick near the corner flag.

Rrahmani then somehow sent a free header over the crossbar from Piotr Zielinski’s delivery before Raspadori sent the ball skipping across the face of goal from a tight angle.

Valentin Carboni scuffed an effort for the visitors and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia came close for Napoli, nutmegging the Monza keeper who subsequently smothered the ball before Birindelli forced Meret into his first real save.

While Napoli had looked likelier to score since before half-time, it was Monza who won the best chance after Jesus was penalised for handball inside the penalty area, Pessina stepping up but squandering the spot-kick as Meret proved alert to his intentions.

Meret’s evening worryingly came to a close after 74 minutes and, with Pierluigi Gollini a last-minute absentee from the matchday squad due to an left ankle issue, on came Nikita Contini, while Giorgio Cittadini would soon replace the injured Danilo D’Ambrosio for the visitors.

Mazzarri, who had previously been booked, was sent off after he got involved in a touchline scuffle, while Rui, Kvaratskhelia and finally Gaetano seemed only able to direct efforts directly at the keeper as they ran out of time to find a winner.

Napoli boss Rudi Garcia is expecting his team to deliver against Fiorentina on Sunday.

The Partenopei boss revealed at a press conference that he asked his team to win their three Serie A matches ahead of the international break, following a disappointing goalless draw at Bologna.

After a 4-1 home victory over Udinese and 4-0 success at Lecce last time out, Garcia’s players are close to providing the right answer to his request.

Ahead of Sunday’s visit of La Viola to the Stadio Maradona, Garcia told his club’s official website: “I asked the team for three straight wins and on Sunday we have the chance to achieve that.

“We’re in third place, alongside Fiorentina. We want to beat them to stay up near the top and consolidate our position.”

However, the 59-year-old knows his team will not have things all their own way as they seek to extend their winning league run.

He continued: “We know they’re a team who play good football and they’ve enjoyed an excellent start to the season.

“Fiorentina have top-quality players, they’re well drilled and have a clear playing philosophy. They’ve scored lots of headed goals and we’ve analysed their strengths.

“They’re a similar team to us in the way they press and win the ball back. We know it will be a difficult match but we’re playing at home and we must show we’re capable of winning it.”

Despite their strong league form, Napoli lost 3-2 to Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.

However, Garcia says the team should not be short of confidence despite the home defeat.

He explained: “We can take confidence and become stronger because of it. The way we played shows we’re capable of giving world-class teams like Real a game.

“There were little things we should have done better, especially when we conceded the goals, but it can help us grow.

“The Real Madrid match shows we’re a strong side but now we need to take that into our game on Sunday and be even more determined when defending.”

Garcia has not ruled out making changes against Fiorentina, revealing he would decide after their final training session ahead of the game.

Defender Amir Rrahmani is closing in on a return from a muscle injury but is not yet fit to play 90 minutes.

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