Napoli and Fiorentina lost ground on champions Juventus in the Serie A title race as they shared a pulsating 1-1 draw at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Both goals arrived early, with each side seemingly keen to atone for last week’s Europa League exits – Fiorentina losing out to Tottenham, while Napoli came off second best against Villarreal.
The host struck first in the sixth minute when Marcos Alonso glanced in a header from Borja Valero’s corner, but the goalscorer was culpable when Napoli levelled from the restart.
Alonso strained for and misjudged a left-footed clearance from Kalidou Koulibaly’s punt and the ball fell to Gonzalo Higuain, who steered home his 25th Serie A goal of the season from outside the area.
Koulibaly was almost the next man to undo his good work, as he erred to send Nikola Kalinic sprinting clear to rattle the Napoli crossbar, before Cristian Tello cut in to again test the frame of Pepe Reina’s goal.
Reina’s opposite number Ciprian Tatarusanu made a stunning double save to thwart Jose Callejon and Higuain in the second half and Napoli are now three points behind Juventus, while Fiorentina are five points further back in fourth.
The earlier kick-off saw Sassuolo preserve seventh position by overcoming eighth-placed Lazio 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico.
On a rain-soaked pitch, Domenico Berardi opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 41st minute after Mauricio clattered into Gregoire Defrel.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s team sealed the points midway through the second period as Defrel finished emphatically from Nicola Sansone’s pass.