Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off early as Napoli succumbed to a Giovanni Simeone hat-trick in a shock 3-0 defeat at Fiorentina that edged Juventus closer to a seventh successive Serie A title on Sunday.
With just three games left, Juventus have a four-point lead on closest challengers Napoli and could wrap up yet another ‘Scudetto’ next weekend.
Koulibaly, labelled a hero when he scored the last-gasp header that kept Napoli’s ambitions alive with a 1-0 win over Juventus in Turin last week, turned villain in Florence after he was sent off after just eight minutes.
Argentina forward Simeone — the son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone — scored all three goals in a spectacular display to keep Fiorentina’s Europa League hopes alive.
Juventus battled past 10-man Inter Milan in a San Siro thriller on Saturday to prevail 3-2 thanks to two late goals in three minutes.
Massimiliano Allegri’s champions host Bologna on Saturday and will be assured of a seventh straight title if Napoli fail to win at home against Torino on Sunday.
Napoli never recovered from Koulibaly’s expulsion, the towering Sengalese defender inititally shown a yellow card for kicking out at Simeone as he charged towards goal.
But a video assistant referee (VAR) review at the Stadio Franchi in Florence upgraded the yellow to red, with a free-kick given instead of a penalty.
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri replaced midfielder Jorginho with central defender Lorenzo Tonelli.
But Napoli struggled to contain their rivals, Simeone breaking the deadlock by firing through the legs of goalkeeper Pepe Reina after 34 minutes.
Simeone pounced to fire in the second on 62 minutes after the ball initially bounced off Elseid Hysaj and Reina cleared with his leg.
The 22-year-old completed his hat-trick three minutes into injury time to claim his 13th goal this season.
“My father will be very happy with the hat-trick!” said Simeone as Fiorentina moved to within four points of the Europa League places.
© Agence France-Presse