Having succumbed to a disappointing defeat at home against Basel in their UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final first leg on Thursday, fans would be forgiven for assuming that a rotated Fiorentina side would be fixated on the away leg, but a goal within the opening seven minutes made clear their intentions to finish as close to the Serie A top seven as possible.
A long-range strike from Alfred Duncan thundered against the crossbar, and Castrovilli found enough space in the resulting melee to poke in the opener from close range.
An impressive start to the season coupled with just one loss from their last four outings meant that Udinese were liberated from the usual relegation worries and sat level on points with Fiorentina and three other sides going into this round. Still, they looked faltering in their bid to earn a first top-half finish for a decade, and were unable to muster a single first-half attempt in response to the early setback.
In fact, it was the home side who again went closest to finding the net before the break when Josip Brekalo raced ahead of the defence, but his shot slid under Marco Silvestri and agonisingly off the post.
Andrea Sottil knew that his side’s surprise win here last season would be difficult to replicate, and 14 consecutive defeats at Stadio Artemio Franchi prior to that suggested that a turnaround was against the odds. Indeed, it was much the same story as the second half progressed, and substitute Nicolás González went close as he looked to make an impact for Fiorentina.
It wasn’t until the final 15 minutes when the visitors threatened to change the outcome of the match, and a glancing header from the 18-year-old Vivaldo Semedo struck the woodwork.
Nevertheless, Fiorentina’s quality shone through, and Bonaventura danced his way through the defence to bury a killer second into the bottom corner.
The crucial upcoming European tie and a Coppa Italia final against Inter are both chances to bring silverware to Florence for the first time since 2001, but Vincenzo Italiano will no doubt be delighted that this result ensures his side remain in the top eight. Udinese, meanwhile, slipped to a fourth consecutive away defeat without scoring as their season peters out.
Perhaps still hungover from their non-stop party since clinching the Scudetto last week, Napoli showed early signs of complacency against a Monza unit looking to become only the eighth promoted team to hit the 50-point mark in the three-points-for-a-win era.
It didn’t take long for the hosts to make the most of their opponents’ slack start, either, as Dany Mota added the finishing touch to a lightning-quick counterattack to give his side the lead.
Surprisingly, it took until 10 minutes before HT for the Partenopei to produce anything in the way of a response, with Amir Rrahmani blasting a shot into the stands from inside the box before Michele Di Gregorio denied André-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s powerful drive.
Despite Napoli’s late efforts, though, Raffaele Palladino’s outfit preserved their advantage heading into the break, with the visitors needing to improve significantly to get anything out of the match after the interval.
However, even the introduction of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia could not inspire an equaliser, as Monza eventually registered their second via loanee Andrea Petagna, who punished his parent club against the run of play with a calculated strike into the bottom corner.
The strike caught Napoli off guard and, although Spalletti’s team continued to look for a way back into the encounter, they eventually fell to just a second defeat in 18 away league outings.
Despite a first-ever defeat at the Brianteo, Napoli can continue to celebrate their fantastic campaign - after waiting over 30 years for a league title, this loss will do little to dampen their spirits. Monza, meanwhile avenged their 4-0 defeat from earlier in the campaign in style and extend their unbeaten top-flight streak to seven games in the process. As such, a historic top-half finish in their maiden SA season now looks likelier than ever.