Kalinic hat-trick gets Fiorentina firing

Milan (AFP) – Nikola Kalinic struck a hat-trick and Federico Bernardeschi hit a brace as Fiorentina’s stuttering Serie A season finally took flight with a classy 5-3 win at Cagliari on Sunday. 

Elsewhere, 10-man Napoli added to the woes of basement side Crotone with a 2-1 win that reduced their gap on leaders Juventus to four points. 

Juventus had opened up a seven-point lead on Napoli last week after Maurizio Sarri’s men were stunned 3-1 at home by Roma.

But Juve’s 1-0 defeat to a resurgent AC Milan at the San Siro on Saturday, when teenaged midfielder Manuel Locatelli beat Gianluigi Buffon with a second-half scorcher, has breathed new life into the early season title race.

Not all of Juve’s rivals capitalised, however. 

Already winless in their past three games, Inter Milan were stunned by a late penalty at Atalanta that gave Gian Piero Gasperini’s hosts their second big scalp three weeks after stunning Napoli 1-0 at home.

Inter invested heavily over the summer and drafted Frank De Boer in to replace Roberto Mancini, but the Nerazzurri have dropped to 14th and are still 10 points off the lead.

Roma host Palermo later Sunday when a win for the capital club would hoist them back up to second place to sit ahead of AC Milan on goals difference.

But on Sunday another potential Juventus troublemaker joined the party.

Despite making up for an opening day defeat to Juve with a 1-0 home win over Roma last month, Fiorentina travelled to Sardinia looking to end a four-game winless streak.

Cagliari were given the perfect start when Davide Di Gennaro beat Ciprian Tatarusanu with a bullet header from the edge of the box.

But it only spurred the visitors into action. 

Kalinic pulled La Viola level on 20 minutes after a perfect run behind the hosts’ defence to send a glancing header past Marco Storari.

Minutes later Kalinic turned provider from the left side of the area, the Croat curling a superb ball in behind the Cagliari defence for Bernardeschi to slot past the former Juventus number two at the back post.

Fiorentina had their third goal in the space of 12 minutes, and Bernardeschi his maiden brace in Serie A when he beat Storari was a superb snap shot from the edge of the area.

Kalinic had his second five minutes before the interval, the wiry striker coolly firing an unstoppable curler past Storari from Bernardeschi’s unintentional pass.

Kalinic secured his hat-trick eight minutes after the restart when he was allowed to rise unchallenged to send a powerful header past Storari from 10 yards out.

A pair of late goals from Marco Capuano and Marco Borriello proved too little too late. 

Fiorentina’s third win of the season moved them up to 10th place. Although nine points off the pace, Sousa’s men have a game in hand after a game at Genoa was rained off earlier in the campaign.

Napoli’s trip to league strugglers Crotone came in timely fashion following defeat in their last two league outings and a shock reverse to Besiktas in the Champions League in midweek.

It took Napoli 17 minutes to break the deadlock, Jose Callejon beating Alex Cordez with an angled drive after Lorenzo Insigne’s bouncing delivery from the left was missed by the hosts’ entire defence.

On the half hour, Manolo Gabbiadini lashed out with his right boot after a foul from behind by Giammarco Ferrari to earn a straight red card.

But the hosts were given little time to capitalise, Nikola Maksimovic bundling home at the far post after the slightest of touches from the head of Kalidou Koulibaly at a corner for the visitors.

Aleandro Rosi hit a late consolation for the hosts but as Napoli moved up to third — four points behind Juve and one ahead of Roma — Crotone remain rooted to the bottom.

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