Napoli put aside their recent troubles on Thursday by reaching the Italian Super Cup final with a convincing 3-0 win over Fiorentina in Riyadh.
Giovanni Simeone opened the scoring in the 22nd minute at a sparsely-populated Al-Awwal Park before Alessio Zerbin ensured Napoli’s passage with two late goals, his first for the Italian champions.
Napoli will face the winner of Friday’s other semi-final, between Inter Milan and Lazio, in the final at the same stadium on Monday night.
Thursday’s success was a rare bright moment in what has been a disastrous season for Napoli, who are 20 points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan and have won just five times since Walter Mazzarri replaced Rudi Garcia in November.
Fiorentina had plenty of the ball but struggled to break down Napoli, and Jonathan Ikone’s missed penalty just before half-time summed up a bad night for Vincenzo Italiano’s team.
This season is the first time that the Italian Super Cup has been contested with a four-team format, but it doesn’t appear to have captured the imagination of the Saudi Arabia public.
The stadium was mostly empty for a match featuring the ailing champions, who took the lead when Simeone netted the first chance his team created in a rare start, with Victor Osimhen at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Fiorentina should have levelled when Ikone went down easily under a challenge from Mario Rui, but the French forward ballooned his spot-kick over the bar.
And after easily keeping Fiorentina at bay Napoli doubled their lead in the 84th minute through substitute Zerbin.
The 24-year-old, who is reportedly moving to Frosinone on loan this month, latched on to a flick-on at a corner and poked home before smacking his head into the post.
Team doctors had to check over the 24-year-old, who looked dazed from the impact, before he could return to the field.
But he recovered quickly enough to add the third two minutes later, pinching the ball off Michael Kayode and lashing a low shot past Pietro Terracciano to confirm his team’s spot in the final.